HT planning board talks BMS campus sale, denies Woodmont objectors, approves Capital Health lot plans

The Hopewell Township Planning Board memorialized their previous designation of the BMS campus as an “area in need of redevelopment,” denied a rehearing of an objection to the proposed Woodmont Federal property on Federal City Road, and approved preliminary lot plans for a continued care facility on Scotch Road adjacent to Capital Health at their June meeting.

The Board first memorialized its previous designation of the BMS campus. Board member and Township Committee liaison Kevin Kuchinski stated that the BMS campus was sold in its entirety to Lincoln Equities Group. Kuchinski then read Lincoln Equities’ press release on the sale, in which Lincoln Equities president Joel Bergstein stated: “This spacious, modern BMS campus – located in the center of ‘Einstein’s Alley’ in Central New Jersey – is a prime location for continued innovation and expansion.”
Kuchinski also announced that the area would be renamed Princeton West Innovation Campus.

The Board additionally heard from objectors to the construction of the Woodmont Federal property. Woodmont is a proposed 300-home development that will include approximately one-sixth affordable housing units on Federal City Road. In his argument, attorney Edward Bernstein, representing the objectors, sought a rehearing or an amendment to the resolution that allowed the property’s construction.

Bernstein raised concerns about the traffic at Federal City Road, going back to a 1993 resolution by the Planning Board that cited traffic concerns about the intersection of Federal City and Bull Run Road. Bernstein argued this resolution was overlooked by the Board and the applicants and that the Board should have a rehearing for provisions to add a traffic light to the road.

Thomas Carroll, representing Woodmont Federal, countered that the objectors are trying to delay the construction with a continued call to amend the resolution and that evidence they presented was not included in the original application and was presented over two months later. 

The Board acknowledged that there are pre-existing issues with the Federal City-Bull Run Road intersection, but that this application was not how they should be resolved and that the referenced 1993 resolution holds little bearing to today’s situation.

“I don’t see how a resolution on a project many, many years ago should apply to this application,” Board Chair Paul Kiss said.

Additionally, Kiss said the proper place to petition for a traffic light would be at the county or municipal level, and should not be included in Woodmont Federal’s construction application. He stated that “everything was done by the book” in the application process.

According to Kuchinski, the Township Committee is already in talks with neighboring Ewing and Lawrence Townships, which Kuchinski characterized as “positive interactions,” and that the 2020 budget committed the Township’s share of funding for the traffic light.

When taken to vote, the Board unanimously denied reopening the resolution.

The Board additionally heard testimony on a major subdivision for the Capital Health property, a first step in a joint venture by CF Hopewell and Capital Health to create a CCRC – or continued care retirement and rehabilitation community – next to Capital Health on Scotch Road. This new community development represents a significant part of the Township’s affordable housing plan.

The application would only approve the division of the lot adjacent to Capital Health and would not represent any construction initially. While Kuchinski commended Capital Health for their dedication and communication on the project, he raised concerns about CF Hopewell’s commitment. According to Kuchinski, when the Board requested a midterm review of the project, Capital Health provided their required information, while CF Hopewell did not.

“We’re approving a hypothetical new division of land or combination of land and, when I don’t see the corresponding action in the midterm report, that’s problematic,” Kuchinski said. “We’ve been working steadfastly with our partners and… we have not been able to get feedback from [CF Hopewell] on this part of the project.”

Capital Health attorney Robert Casey reassured the Board that it was in CF Hopewell’s “best interests” to follow through with the project as Capital Health has a significant investment in Hopewell Township.

Capital Health Chief Legal Officer Alexander Gladney joined Casey in reassuring the Board that CF Hopewell is “very committed,” stating that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reviewed the documents of CF Hopewell, validated them, and that they received an approval letter from HUD.

“We’ve gone through our due diligence with our insurer and the federal government and they’ve given preliminary approval for [the project], as well as being adjoined with CF Hopewell,” Gladney said.

Casey added that CF Hopewell would be involved in talks moving forward, stating that they “will obviously have representatives at CF Hopewell around the table” and that the Township can expect to see them “in the next two months” as the application process moves forward.

Taken to vote, the Board unanimously approved the major subdivision application as Capital Health and CF Hopewell move forward in their community development process.

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