Pennington Planning Board Continues to Hear American Properties Application for 80 Residential Units

Last Wednesday, the Pennington Planning Board continued to hear the application by American Properties at Pennington, LLC for the construction of an 80-dwelling unit residential community on the 13 acres located off of Knowles, West Franklin and RT31, near the Straube Center.

“Heritage at Pennington” would consist of 19 buildings with 3 different styles — 32 villas, 32 townhouses, and 16 “COAH” or affordable housing units. The villas would be 3-bedrooms with a 2-car garage; the townhouses would be 3-bedrooms with a 1-car garage; and the “COAH” units (affordable units) would be 2-bedroom with surface parking. The density would be 2.5 units per acre, less dense than neighboring Pennington Point, the neighboring 55 and older development.

“The 3-bedroom units are ‘age targeted,’ in that they appeal to an older buyer, who is downsizing, and who wants the ability to have one-story living. The upstairs is intended for guest bedrooms or for couples who like to sleep in separate bedrooms,” explained American Properties’s architect, Richard Arzberger, from Sonnenfeld and Trocchia Architects.

The planning board meeting was packed primarily with residents from Pennington Point who were interested in finding out more about how this project will effect their own community in particular with regard to views, sidewalks, drainage, and traffic.

The drainage discussion continued from the last hearing, with the applicant’s engineer Alfred Coco indicating that they had developed plan in accordance with specific regulations and had completed an informal report analyzing the entire drainage area to the west side of the railroad and below. Based on this report, they found that, considering the way the site is being developed and the basin at Pennington Point, the peak flows will be less than today. However, the applicant is being requested to conduct a formal soil testing regarding permeability rates of the soil, which has not been completed yet.

As part of the application, American Properties is requesting a variance regarding the set-back on one particular corner of one of the affordable housing units. Several Pennington Point residents expressed concern that they might be able to see the building from their own development, if the set-backs were closer. In response, the planning board requested that the applicant enhance the buffer in that location.

With regard to the sidewalks associated with the project, “Throughout our planning documents, the Borough of Pennington has stressed the importance of the connection of sidewalks to the rest of the Borough,” said Winn Thompson, Pennington Planning Board chairman.

“The sidewalk is a high priority for the Borough,” agreed Tom Ogren, Pennington Planning Board member.

The board also heard from American Properties’s traffic consultant, Karl Pehnke, regarding his studies of the traffic in the area during peak traffic in the morning and evening commute hours.

Based on his observations and calculations, Pehnke stated, “Because there are several choices for travel out of the site, going in a variety of directions, only the addition of 6-7 cars will be added in a particular location. Therefore, there will not a perceptive change in the area — the additional traffic will not change much what is occurring at the intersections today. This is not to say that the side street approaches to Route 31 will not experience delays however, those delays you experience today will not be perceptively different.”

The hearing was continued to Wednesday January 13th at 7:30 pm and, based on statements from the planning board, it is conceivable that the matter will continue to February meeting, as well.

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