Lennar brings new witness and updates evidence for Scotch Road development

Screenshot of Hopewell Township website (2017)

The Hopewell Township planning board conducted their third and final review of an application for a proposed residential and affordable housing development called Hopewell Parc, located on the west side of Scotch Road, south of Washington Crossing – Pennington Road.

The applicant, “US Home Corporation, D/B/A Lennar” (“Lennar”), intends to develop a residential development containing 1,077 living units, 216 of which will be set aside for affordable housing. The full application can be found at this link, and coverage of the previous hearings on this issue can be found at this link.

One of the significant concerns addressed was the effects that development would have on the school populations.

Attorney for Lennar, Jason Tuvel, brought forward one new witness, Creigh Pahenkamp, from Creigh Rahenkamp & Associates LLC, a land development consultant company. Rahenkamp explained that, while predicting the demographics of future development is tricky, he estimates that this development would result in 329 additional children in the school district.

“Now, to put that in some sense of scale: between 2010 and 2018 your school district has lost 448 students. So this development alone is basically not even filling the gap of enrollment decline,” Pahenkamp said, who also explained that these numbers are a prediction and can change due to families staying in the neighborhood for long periods. “So essentially, you’re getting turnover in an existing neighborhood as empty-nesters ultimately decide to leave,” Pahenkamp said.

The Board continued its discussion of concerns from the prior meeting regarding light levels, in particular the applicant’s proposed light fixtures.Brian Perry, a LEED-accredited professional in building design and construction, was brought back to explain the changes the applicant made to the plans.

“We were asked to take a little bit of a closer look — a deeper dive — at some of the parking lot areas because, as you can see, there are still many light poles. These are residential grade light poles…kind of a colonial style and 12 or 13 feet [high] in the parking areas,” Perry said.

In an attempt to remedy the Board’s concern, the applicant revised its plans and reduced the plan from 322 light poles to 175 light poles. However, the planning board, especially Board Chair Karen Murphy, remained unsatisfied.

“You’re definitely moving in the right direction… but this is the reason why I want it back to this Board because, unfortunately, I think I am the authority when it comes to lighting on this board, [and] just submitting it to administrative review is not good enough,” Murphy said.

In an effort to conclude the application, the applicant’s representatives suggested that the application be put to a vote that evening while reserving light fixtures for a future-date final review.

Murphy explained that that has never happened before and deferred the decision to the Planning Board’s attorney, Francis Linnus.

“I’m a little uncomfortable with the process,” Linnus said, “As far as time is concerned, we have until May 31, I believe, to take action on the application. Secondly, I think that if the Board wants to see a revised plan and make a determination or an exhibitor revise the exhibit, actually, before it makes a determination, I think that’s appropriate.”

The planning board declined to vote and scheduled another meeting to review before the vote. That date is set for May 14 at 7pm.

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