At the Hopewell Township Committee meeting this Monday, the group commonly referred to as the “Pennytown Task Force” appears to have been dismissed and the upcoming meetings canceled.
“The task force meeting is not occurring. There will be no additional task force meetings. At the last task force meeting, the task force had everything that it needed to say to Conifer. They had asked for some other items on the Pennytown site proper. What we are doing at this point is allowing Conifer to go forth, do its site due diligence and planning on the site. And when they’re ready, they will submit a full-fledged application to the Planning Board and will go through that appropriate process with the Planning Board,” said Hopewell Township Administrator/Engineer, Paul Pogorzelski at the April 14 meeting.
The Pennytown Task force was the volunteer advisory group set up to assist the Hopewell Township Committee in compiling and assessing data pertaining to the potential development of the Pennytown/Marshall’s Corner property. The property as originally purchased by the Township to partially fulfill the Township’s affordable housing obligations and was subsequently expanded in scope to potentially include the adjacent privately held parcel in a larger mixed-use development. The 13 task force appointees were meant to represent the variety of interest areas in the township and included members of the Planning Board, Township Committee, Environmental Commission, Green Team, Affordable Housing Committee, and the public. Despite vocal local opposition to the commercial and market-rate residential portion of the development, the group received a prestigious planning award in 2011 from New Jersey chapter of the American Planning Association for Distiguished Civic Leadership in Community Education for their walkable town-center recommendation for the Pennytown Property.
After the Township Committee abandoned plans to develop the property as a mixed use development with as many as 365 residential units and commercial space last spring, Hopewell Township contracted with Conifer LLC to develop a 70 unit affordable housing complex on the Township owned property. Under the MLUL (Municipal Land Use Law), the Township Planning Board will now proceed with the process to approve a site plan with Conifer preparing for, and eventually applying for various land use approvals, which will require additional public notice, meetings and an opportunity for public comment and review going forward.