Search Site
Menu
The Courier News reports

02/8/06

Housing plan compromise reached

By DEBORAH LYNN BLUMBERG
Gannett New Jersey

FRANKLIN (Somerset) — In a meeting described as the Planning Board’s last say on the town’s fair-share housing plan, members scrapped their original proposal and sided with the Township Council, putting a proposed Jack Morris development back in the plan.

Council and board members have disputed the affordable housing plan for months, with the council pushing for the Morris project and board members striking it from their version of the plan.

After more than five hours of resident testimony and board discussion Wednesday night, Planning Board members voted 7-2 to adopt a resolution supporting the council’s plan, which includes a Morris development of 644 homes and a Home Depot for land between Bennetts Lane and Veronica Avenue. Planning Board members Mike Orsini and Robert Mettler voted against the project.

“We’re in a situation where at least council feels that if we do not adopt this resolution, we’ll have a very big hole in our plan,” Planning Board Chairman Ted Chase said.

Townships that fail to file complete fair-share plans with the state’s Council on Affordable Housing can become vulnerable to developers interested in building in town.

The commercial development offered by the Morris project is crucial, officials at the meeting said, because without its property tax revenue, Franklin couldn’t afford to educate the extra children affordable housing will bring into town and residents taxes would increase.

At a council and board subcommittee meeting last week designed to reach a compromise on the fair-share plan, attendees decided not to reduce the number of housing units on Morris’ proposal. Some feared Morris might abandon the project if they cut the number of units, said Chase, who was at the meeting. The current Morris proposal calls for no more than 15 housing units per acre.

At Wednesday’s meeting, more than 80 concerned attendees, including former Franklin officials and officials and residents from neighboring towns, packed the room to share worries over heightened traffic and environmental damage locals have said the project would create.

“Traffic in the corridor was already bad in 2003,” said former council member Harry Weber, who opposes the Morris development.

Shirley Anne Almeida of North Brunswick said area roads are already at gridlock and asked board members to keep the project off the plan. Almeida often sees emergency vehicles stuck in traffic on town roads, she said.

“New Jersey has outgrown itself,” she said. “Nobody seems to take into consideration the long lines at gas stations, the long lines at post offices and the long lines at grocery stores. Enough is enough.”

The audience erupted in applause.

Arnold Schmidt, chairman of Franklin’s Environmental Commission, presented board members with a commission resolution opposing the development and recommended officials rezone the site as a conservation district.

Mayor Francis ‘Mac’ Womack of North Brunswick said he attended the meeting after receiving a flood of calls and e-mails from concerned constituents bemoaning traffic on Route 27.

The meeting turned heated when Stuart Lieberman, attorney for a citizens’ group against the development, questioned whether the plan’s consultant, Schoor DePalma, had worked for Morris in the past. The question went unanswered.

Franklin must send a final fair share plan to COAH by Feb. 11 to resolve council and board members’ disagreement over whether to include the Morris development. Towns are permitted to submit just one plan to COAH, and that plan must be endorsed by both the council and the board, according to COAH.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Township Council members will hold a special fair-share plan meeting. Officials expect the council to endorse the plan. But Mayor Brian Levine said he still opposes the development as is and supports the Planning Board’s original proposal.

“Every citizen who came before the council and the Planning Board was against the project,” Levine said about the Morris development. “It seems we’re saying to the residents of Franklin that Franklin is for sale to the highest bidder. I’m failing to see how this is good.”

Our Attorneys

Recent Twitter Posts

  • DEP urged to set tough limit on 1,4-dioxane in drinking water. https://t.co/UESauZowsJ
    1 month ago
  • Beach access issue returns in Cape May County beach community, near the location of a similar issue that was litiga… https://t.co/tWOMcfTqwM
    2 months ago
  • Another effort to make the Delaware Water Gap a national park is underway. https://t.co/C00NZ43nZU
    2 months ago
  • New Jersey seeks designation of Lower Hackensack River as a federal Superfund site. https://t.co/czOI3hDNb2
    2 months ago

Recent Blog Posts

Environmental Hearing Requests by Third Parties: An Update

In 2010 this author contributed an article discussing the difficulty that anyone other than an applicant had in administratively contesting a permit. Stuart J. Lieberman and Shari M. Blecher, “It’s
Read More
Environmental Hearing Requests by Third Parties: An Update

Hoboken cannot block residential development with new zoning ordinances, Supreme Court holds

In Shipyard Assocs., LP v. City of Hoboken, 242 N.J. 23 (2020), the Supreme Court held that the City of Hoboken could not block a waterfront residential development by enacting
Read More
Hoboken cannot block residential development with new zoning ordinances, Supreme Court holds

Long standing land use attorney Michele Donato joins Princeton’s Lieberman Blecher & Sinkevich as “of counsel”

The law firm of Lieberman, Blecher & Sinkevich is  proud to announce that Michele R. Donato, Esq. has become Of Counsel with their firm. Ms. Donato has specialized in land use,
Read More
Long standing land use attorney Michele Donato joins Princeton’s Lieberman Blecher & Sinkevich as “of counsel”

RLUIPA case in SDNY challenges alleged discrimination against Orthodox Jewish community

In December 2020, the Southern District of New York filed a lawsuit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) against the Village of Airmont. The suit alleges
Read More
RLUIPA case in SDNY challenges alleged discrimination against Orthodox Jewish community

In the media

  • Gulf Coast Town Center facing foreclosure

    Naples Daily News, September 16, 2015

    Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit Sept. 8 against an affiliate of CBL & Associates, the owners of the decadeold, 1.2 million-square-foot mall in south Fort Myers for a $190.9 million unpaid loan. The center has 94 stores on 204 acres, with such anchors as Super Target, Belk, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls and Costco...

    Read More
  • Town liable for private company's leaking underground tanks, court rules

    NJ.com Jul 26, 2017

    CRANFORD -- A couple that owned a businesses in town and became sick from leaking underground tanks owned by an adjacent business can sue the township for damages because the tanks were partially ...

    Read More
  • Dark Waters: How a Class Action Catapulted NJ to Forefront of 'Forever Chemicals' Battle

    NJ Law Journal Jan 09, 2020

    As property owners become increasingly aware of PFAS contamination, and as individuals exposed to PFAS learn of the health risks associated with exposure, liability will likely affect entire supply chains.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Contact Our Firm

Quick Contact Form