Hollystone remains subject of Zoning Board hearings

The Hopewell Township Zoning Board of Appeals continues to hear expert testimony about the controversial application for a variance to build a boutique hotel amid protected conservation lands on Fiddlers Creek Road.

The Zoning Board of Appeals will meet Wednesday, March 1, to continue the hearing that began in November. The Zoning Board has met a half dozen times since November, during regular and special meetings, to take testimony. It has hearings scheduled through March.

The Board has so far questioned the new owner, Margot Stern, as well as experts she hired to study the impact of the hotel project on traffic, water and sewer infrastructure, and on the environment. It plans in the next weeks to question the last of her experts on planning, as well as hear from experts presented by concerned community members aimed at rebutting some of the applicant’s expert testimony.

The variance application has stirred considerable opposition from neighbors and some environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Sourland Conservancy, and others. The Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space has taken no position on the application, even though it controls a conservation easement that is part of the parcel of land under consideration.

Recordings of the hearings are available online on the Township’s website. The hearings can be joined via Zoom, with links for each meeting set up through the Board’s online agendas

The Zoning Board has set April 6 as a self-imposed deadline to decide on a recommendation for the application, although it has twice extended that deadline in order to accommodate further questioning.

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