Pennytown Redevelopment Plan to be Reviewed by Hopewell Township Planning Board

    On Monday, the Hopewell Township Committee passed an ordinance adopting a redevelopment plan for the Pennytown “area in need of redevelopment.” In this context, “redevelopment” is an alternative to parcel rezoning and means “clearance, replanning, development and redevelopment,” as defined by the state’s Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (LRHL). (For the full statute, see N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1).

    “The redevelopment plan outlines the broad constructs of what can go onto the site and guides the redevelopment process,” said Hopewell Township Mayor, Kevin Kuchinski. “We look forward to getting input from the public and making this an open process.  Once the redevelopment plan is finalized, our professionals expect that we will receive multiple design concepts and bids based on the redevelopment specs. We will evaluate these proposals based on the specific plans they present for the site, as well as the dollar figure they offer for the site. As outlined in the plan document, the Township will also have additional input during this phase to help ensure that the resulting development is done in a way that is high quality and fits into the surrounding area.”

    Hopewell Borough is currently undergoing this investigation and MercerMe has covered it along with an explanation of the process. Check out this link for more articles about areas in need of redevelopment.

    “Finally we can give more specific input on the proposed ‘uses’ and ask the developer to rework their proposal if there’s something we don’t like.  By contrast, if we simply held a public auction for the property, I am concerned that a developer could build any use as long as it was consistent with the current zoning, and we would have less input or control over the aesthetics or uses.  With the redevelopment plan, the developer will still need to go in front of the Planning Board for specific steps in the building process (major subdivision approval, etc), but this upfront phase works differently.”
    The process of creating the Redevelopment Plan begins with a preliminary investigation, which began in June of 2009, when the Township Committee directed the Planning Board to determine whether certain areas within the municipality met the statutory criteria for declaring lands in a vicinity of being “in need of redevelopment.” In response, the Planning Board conducted the preliminary investigation to determine whether the Pennytown site met one or more of the criteria for such designation, as outlined by the applicable statute.
    At the conclusion of the public hearing process in September of 2009, the Planning Board adopted a resolution that concluded that the Pennytown Site, among others, satisfied the criteria for a redevelopment area designation and recommended that to the Township Committee. On September 14, 2009, the Township Committee designated the property, along with others, as “in need of redevelopment” and authorized the preparation of a redevelopment plan.

    Pennytown Future Deliberated in Township Executive Session

    “Once Pennytown was removed from consideration for the Township’s Affordable Housing plan, the Township Committee had a number of conversations about the site and reached a consensus to sell it, and to use the proceeds to reduce or eliminate the carrying costs of this property in the Municipal Budget,” said Mayor Kuchinski.

    On Monday night, the Township Committee formally adopted the plan which outlines the purpose and intent of the ordinance as:

    1. To return the property to productive use through the efforts of private capital and ownership;
    2. To provide appropriate development standards to guide and facilitate the redevelopment of the Pennytown property in a manner consistent with the overall redevelopment goal;
    3. To facilitate the preservation and/or adaptive reuse of the historic single family detached residence on the property that is part of the hamlet of Marshall’s corner;
    4. To encourage high quality architectural design and construction of new buildings within the redevelopment area;
    5. To utilize “green” building techniques and sustainable design features in both the site design and commercial building design consistent with the goals and objectives of the Hopewell Township Master Plan; and
    6. To preserve the pond and stream corridor along the Stony Brook Branch.

    Currently, the Township indicates that the existing zoning for the Pennytown site is Shopping Center 1, which does not significantly differ from the permissible uses in the Redevelopment Plan.

    The Redevelopment Plan carves out the property into three separate land use districts, specifically:

    1. General Commercial: transportation and traveler’s services, excluding lodging, and other automobile-oriented and convenience services are intended for this land use category… also provides opportunity for office, commercial recreation, leisure and semi liar retail sales and services;
    2. Historic Preservation: preserve the existing single-family house in the northeast corner of the redevelopment are but also allow for historically sensitive adaptive reuse for small scale lodging or office use;
    3. Conservation Open Space: The Stony Brook Branch stream corridor and pond on the that is designated for open space retention as defined by its existing 150-foot stream corridor easement which encompasses the south and southwest of the tract except for a small triangular shaped portion in the extreme southwest corner which has been included because it is too small to develop under General Commercial standards.

    Tonight at 7PM at its regular meeting, the Planning Board will begin to review the ordinance from the Township Committee. Stay tuned for updates or see you there (or both)!

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    1. It was a nice concept, but it had one drawback.
      Pennytown is built on wetlands, 3 of them to be exact.

      It would require sewers.

      But, the I have an idea. Why not gift to some environmental
      group? Wetlands are very important as they swell to receive
      precipitation and then then dry-up, when they’re not needed.

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