As part of the ongoing redevelopment process for the Hopewell Township-owned “Pennytown” property, the Hopewell Township Committee, on Monday night, reviewed and voted on proposed changes made by the Planning Board to the redevelopment plan. The changes will be incorporated into the proposed plan and a second (final) hearing of the redevelopment plan will take place at the next Committee meeting on November 14, which will be the final opportunity for public input on the redevelopment plan.
The redevelopment process is one that seeks “to rebuild or restore an area in a measurable state of decline, disinvestment, or abandonment. Redevelopment may be publicly or privately initiated, but it is commonly recognized as the process governed by the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law and undertaken in accordance with a redevelopment plan adopted by the municipality. If used correctly, it can transform an underutilized or distressed area into an economically viable and productive part of the community,” according to the Redevelopment Handbook, A Guide to Rebuilding New Jersey’s Communities.
At the August Planning Board meeting, the Planning Board reviewed the Committee’s redevelopment plan for Pennytown and suggested some modifications which are being considered by the Township Committee in the final decision-making. Most notably, it recommended that the possibly of residential development, including affordable housing, be retained on the property. Previously, Pennytown, owned by Hopewell Township, was identified as a potential future site for affordable housing in partial satisfaction of the Township’s constitutionally-mandated affordable housing obligation. While the property was purchased for that purpose (with funds from the Township’s affordable housing trust fund), the Committee had requested that the Planning Board remove the property from consideration in its Affordable Housing Plan.
“The original redevelopment plan for Pennytown did not include residential housing as a potential use on the Pennytown tract, including Affordable Units,” explained Township Mayor Kevin Kuchinski, when asked for clarification. “Several members of the planning board suggested that we add both of these uses back to the Redevelopment Plan — the thought on the former is that it could help shield existing residents in Marshall’s Corner from any new commercial development and/or be an attractive alternate use for a developer. The Planning Board understood that Pennytown had been taken out of the Township’s Affordable Housing plan, but they did not want to specifically preclude this use, as residential units are sometimes built above commercial storefronts.”
The Committee also revised the map used in the redevelopment plan to include an existing waterway by Hiohela Pond down to Marshall’s Corner-Woodsville Road, at the request of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association.
“We have largely accepted their suggestions,” said Mayor Kuchinski. The redevelopment plan will be reintroduced as amended with another public hearing on NOVEMBER 14 with a chance for public comment on that date before it is formally adopted.