BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Property in the Emerson Lane neighborhood of the township is back in the news, again. The Warren Township property, which was proposed as a site for the Berkeley Aquatic Club (BAC), in 2012, is now being proposed as a site for a 192-unit housing development with 144 market-rate town homes and 48 affordable units.
Tuesday night, Mayor Robert Woodruff told residents that the township's bond counsel Matt Jessup of McManimon, Scotland, Baumann, will represent the township with respect to interactions between Warren Township and Berkeley Heights on this latest proposal. Already residents of the Emerson Lane area, along with others, are concerned about Warren’s proposal – they’ve been there before and won.
In December 2012, the township committee, by a vote of 5-1, rejected an ordinance that would permit the BAC to discharge its wastewater into the township’s sewage treatment plant. The thought at that time was that a commercial project such as the BAC did not allow for commercial businesses to use the sewer system.
That led to a lawsuit by BAC and, a referendum on the issue in a May 2013. Township voters rejected the proposed 51,000-square-foot swimming facility, by four to one -- 2,744 against and 661 for.
The sewer capacity is also of concern with this new development.
On Tuesday night, Woodruff asked Jessup about correspondence from Warren Township which asked Berkeley Heights to run an analysis to determine whether the Berkeley Heights sewer system could take on waste water discharge from two potential project sites in Warren Township.
They discussed a letter sent by Warren Township to Berkeley Heights in which Warren asked Berkeley Heights to conduct a sewer capacity analysis to determine whether the sewer system could take on waste water discharge from potential project sites in Warren Township. Berkeley Heights' Township Attorney Joe Sordillo, responded to the letter that, including all upcoming development projects, Berkeley Heights did have the sewer capacity, subject to changing circumstances and negotiations between the two towns on shared services.
Jessup said he would attend the meeting of the Warren Township Committee the next day, Wednesday, Oct. 10, to represent Berkeley Heights’ perspective before the Warren Committee voted on a settlement with the New Jersey Fair Share Housing Center.
The committee did, in fact, vote today, Oct. 10, to approve the settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center.
All told, the settlement calls for there to be 1,048 newly constructed homes, including 362 affordable units and 616 market-rate units, over the next seven years. Jessup did say “at the moment there are no concrete identified projects” on the books – no zoning changes being proposed. When there are real projects in the works, “where they might be located, what they might consist of and how they might impact Berkeley Heights, there are a variety of actions that we can advise you on” that can be undertaken to protect the residents of the area. “These are concept plans … the rest of it will come in time,” Jessup said.
Having gone through the process itself residents might remember just declaring an area “in need of redevelopment,” requires at least three public meetings across two governing bodies; the same with the actual redevelopment plan – that process goes through a multi-meeting, governing body process. “Once those public processes unfold there will be significant opportunities” to step forward, Jessup said.
Council member Susan Poage asked if Warren Township told Berkeley Heights how many units they wanted to build.
Jessup said Warren asked Berkeley Heights to research whether “There was enough sewer capacity in Berkeley Heights to handle the discharge from all three of the potential identified sites in Warren Township – which at the time were for 175 rental units, 192 rental units, and 125 units … those are the total number of units they asked Berkeley Heights last year to consider in its capacity analysis, said Jessup.” There seems to be a lack of clarity on the matter, as some correspondence refers to two projects, as opposed to three.
Councilman Peter Bavoso asked if the Berkeley Height’s answer to Warren said, “We’re accepting that sewerage from them.”
Jessup said absolutely not.
Woodruff asked if Warren has other options for sewer service than Berkeley Heights.
Jessup said that he doesn’t know.
Woodruff asked what the remedy would be if “they come to us” and want to connect.
Jessup said this is not the time to discuss legal strategies.
Watch the entire meeting, including this discussion, which is during the first part of the meeting, on Livestream.
Read the statement to Berkeley Heights residents from the Mayor and Council about this situation.
For more in the Warren meeting see
See more about Warren Township’s settlement agreement here https://warrennj.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/PDF-VERSION-OF-FINAL-SETTLEMENT-AGREEMENT-A1069713x9D7D2.pdf
or on its website: