Home » Hopewell Borough Council and Planning Board – June meetings

Hopewell Borough Council and Planning Board – June meetings

by Angela Fee-Maimon

Borough Council

The Hopewell Borough Council began its June meeting by showing support for Gun Violence Awareness on Gun Violence Awareness Day. Members of the Council and several advocates attended the meeting wearing orange. Orange is worn because it is the color that hunters wear for protection.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety

Brad Evans, chair of the Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, said that the committee was nearing completion of Phase Two of their plan.

There was discussion among Mayor Paul Anzano, Council member Krista Weaver, and Anne Hayton, a member of PSBAC, about recent accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists with Anzano suggesting that, in some of the accidents, the pedestrian or cyclist was at fault and Weaver and Hayton disputing that.

Evans recommended repainting the crosswalks on Princeton Avenue and its intersections.  He said that the PBSAC had met four of the six qualifications for an Safe Streets and Roads For All, or SS4A, Grant from the Department of Transportation, and that the PBSAC was ready to move forward with the other steps to apply for the grant money before the Juily deadline. Anzano said that the Council had reached out to the County about repainting the crosswalks and were awaiting a response.

Resident Melissa Cookman said that there was a lot of concern in the community about the potential installation of a traffic circle on Greenwood Avenue. Anzano said that it was a County suggestion that would be thoroughly vetted with the public.

Council member David Mackie said that the Stony Brook Bridge would be under construction for 45 days, but would not have much of a material impact on traffic to the Borough.

Ordinance to establish a capital account for water costs

The Council heard a first reading of Ordinance 868 to establish a Water Capital fund.

The Borough minutes state: “Mackie explained this is to cover mostly engineering costs to determine capital costs of leasing, selling or keeping the water utility. He discussed the needed work including potential rehabilitation of Well #6, lead service line replacement, repair needs and geologist expenses. Mr. Kennedy stated this was a placeholder for funds.”

The Council approved the first reading unanimously; a second reading and public hearing of the ordinance will follow.

Other financial news

Council approved the 2023 budget, which included a tax increase that increased taxes on the average home by three cents per $100 of assessed valuation per year (average $120 per home).

Kennedy said that the cost of recycling in Hopewell Borough will see a huge increase due to tipping fees. It could total an overall increase of $31,000 for the Borough.

The Council passed several resolutions, including a resolution that will make the Borough eligible for $75,000 in stormwater improvements, and a resolution that signals a mutual understanding with Mercer County to move forward with road safety improvements on Broad Street.

Weaver asked about painting the shoulders of the roads so that cars were aware that parking was not permitted as a good interim measure.

Mayor Anzano said that the resolution is being passed to send a message to the county that Hopewell Borough is a willing partner in the process of road improvements so that the County can proceed with more actions.

Liaison Reports:

Councilmember Samara McAuliffe said the Green Team was still working on curbside and organic waste pick-up. A recycling event was scheduled for the Pennington Farmer’s Market for items like cell phones and brita filters on June 24.

Councilmember Debra Stuhler said that the Board of Health was working on publishing a social support resources booklet on the town’s website soon. Food Truck Friday and the Hopewell Block Party were organized for local recreation. The Shade Tree Committee planted two trees and will soon plante four more, and invasive plant species are being removed from local parks and replaced with native plants.

Mackie said that a number of structures in the community were underwritten by Betty Johnson, and that her foundation continues to support maintenance on those structures. Recently, the foundations paid for masonry work on the bandstand.

Council President Sky Morehouse said that the annual cleanup at Borough Park had been successful and that the Neiderer and Stephens families joined the clean-up with their “small, delightful” children. The Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser at the Firehouse was also a success with a record-number of participants attending. Sky suggested that a way to curb speeding in the Borough would be to make court appearances mandatory for traffic violations like some other municipalities in New Jersey.

Kennedy said that the Master Plan Subcommittee was meeting about next steps for downtown. The Economic Development committee made Cruise Night one of the best in memory. Parking initiatives need to be discussed soon.Two million dollars in grant money had been allotted to the construction of the new senior center behind Shoprite in Pennington.

Weaver said the PBSAC wanted a yes or no on moving forward on obtaining grant money from safe streets for all. The PBSAC would like to see the crosswalks repainted sooner than the proposal of mid-August. The municipal Alliance met to discuss expanding mental health awareness and programs. Narcan training would be available in July and October.

Mayor Anzano said that he expected the State to approve the allotment of money to restorations at the Old School Baptist Church soon.

Planning Board

At its June meeting, the Hopewell Borough Planning Board discussed replacing an existing structure with residential housing. A neighbor worried about the increased water run-off during storms flooding his storage building as the water that runs into his yard currently is excessive.

2 Voorhees Avenue is situated near a historic cemetery and the lot contains an existing home and garage built in the 1940s. The owners applied to remove the garage and build a two and one-half story home that would cover just over the same land area as the garage, but be constructed at a 40 feet setback from the footprint of the garage.

According to the applicant’s attorney, the construction would not change the grade of the property and would cause only a marginal increase of storm water to the neighbor on the west.

The new development would be consistent homes in the neighborhood.

Bruce Downy, the neighbor to the west of the property, said that he already has issues with water reaching the inside of his shed, and that increasing the amount of water flowing onto his property by any amount was going to end up costing him. He said that the clay soil on his property did not drain well, and that water reaching his basement would be a concern if the house was constructed.

“Why do we have these rules if we just keep bending them? What do we want for Hopewell?” Down asked during public comment.

Other neighbors spoke in favor of the project, saying that the change would be more aesthetically pleasing and improve the appearance of the neighborhood.

The applicant’s engineer said that the storm mitigation measures worked into the construction would offset water runoff enough to prevent measurable change in most storms.

The Board did not agree with a design to have a small parking pad on the property that would fit two cars, and the applicant agreed to eliminate it from the design and use on-street parking.

The Board approved the demolition of the garage and the construction of the home with the condition that the home would not include a parking pad and that updated landscaping plans would be submitted.

Next, the Board heard plans to transform 45 East Broad Street on the corner of Broad and Princeton into a neurology practice specializing in Parkinson’s Disease. Greg Corevelyn, attorney for the applicants, Jill and Thomas Farmer, said that the property had been used for many purposes, including most recently a lighting store, and that the Farmers planned to restore the building to its former grandeur.

Dr. Jill Farmer testified that she has been a resident of Hopewell Borough for the past two years, and she and her husband are raising two children in town. She said that, as her contract ends with a larger practice, she has decided to invest in practicing a type of medicine that is more “grassroots, small-scale, and peaceful.” She said she plans to name the practice, “Borough Neuro” with the slogan, “Move Well, Live Well, Hope Well.”

She said that she looks forward to practicing medicine in town and frequenting the local eateries for lunch. The practice will see patients in-office three days per week and through telehealth one day a week. She said that she hopes to, “foster a community within the Parkinson’s community.”

Peter Manning, architect for the applicant, said that the plans would shift the parking entrance by 25 feet, formalize six parking spaces, demolish the bump out to the existing deck, and rebuild an addition that was substandard. The reconstruction of the addition pushes the house out about eight feet.

The building itself will have a vestibule, comfortable reception area, two exam rooms, a room for storage and files, and an office. Everything will be graded without steps to make the building handicap accessible. He said that bringing the parking closer to the building increased accessibility significantly. He said that the materials and colors would remain the same but “spruced-up,” and that the building was being updated with all original window replacements.

The upstairs, which was formerly offices, will be transformed into a 725 square foot apartment with an open living room, full bathroom, and bedroom. One parking space, a path, and an original stairwell with second floor access will be available for the tenant.

All existing trees will remain except for a couple of large trees that may have to be removed to center the parking lot.

Board President Peter Macholdt said that the curb cut must be approved by the County. He said that he liked the plan, but said that it was a bad intersection.

James Kyle, the applicant’s planner, said that the County had already been contacted and had no problem with moving the exit closer to the intersection. He said, “Dr. Farmer sees one patient at a time for an hour and a half.

Theodore Bayer, engineer for the applicant, said that testing showed no evidence of the construction causing a high water table, and that all water would be pitched to a gravel vault. The property plans to use LED lighting with different levels of low intensity light so that people who have a 5 p.m. appointment in December can see their way into the building.

The Borough Engineer recommended “additional grading to ensure conformance,” North to South position of parking spaces, and a flanking use screen parking.

Keith Corrigan testified during public comment that, as a neighbor, he supported the application and was excited to have someone moving in that would put the property to good use.

The Board approved the plans for 45 East Broad as a medical office and apartment with the conditions that there would be adequate screening, reserved signage for the residential parking space, no more than one or two lights that stay on to have sufficient lighting for the residential spot, signage would stay compatible to the structure with color and language, a right-away dedication would be made, and a good faith effort made for any deliveries or medical waste pick-up to be performed after hours.

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