The Hopewell Township Planning Board approved the Hopewell Parc Application after spending two hours determining corrected conditions with which the developer must comply when building the proposed 1,077 residential unit development. 

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

Francis Linus, the Board attorney, explained that there are 60 different conditions for the Board to review before voting, and the Board could add any conditions to the list on that as well.  

“As the Board may recall at the May 13 meeting, the applicant rested its case, the public provided its comments, and we’re here tonight to deliberate. The Board asked me to prepare proposed conditions, which I did. I circulated them both to the applicant’s attorney, as well as to the Board and Board members and invited their comments,” Linnus said.

The 60 different conditions related to affordable housing, requirements from Township Engineer Mark Kartryniak, and various items brought up from the past three months of deliberation. The Board addressed details including the wording of several areas on the plan where bike paths are built, and the area’s lighting. 

Kataryniak explained that everything that was said during the meeting, whether listed as a condition or not, applies to the applicant: “The resolution that the Board adopts requires that the applicant adhere to the testimony that was provided in the transcript… whether it’s specifically listed as a condition or not, the applicant is still held to the representations that were made at the hearing,” he explained. 

The hearing focused on a new condition brought forward by Board member Rex Parker, about adding motion sensors, dimmers, and light timers to the development’s lighting system. 

“It is going to be the most intensive lighting in a concentrated area of anywhere in the Township… and the amount of skyglow that’s going to come out of this is regrettable,” said Parker.

Kevin Kuchinski, a Township Committee and Planning Board member, explained that the idea of motion sensors was addressed at the last meeting. However, the idea was denied because of the belief that wildlife, like deer, would cause the lights to turn on and off throughout the night.

“I believe the challenge raised in the last meeting is that there’s not presently technology that achieves your aims without subjecting the residents to on-off light incidents with deer,” Kuchinski said. “If you think that we need to move forward, I would suggest you vote down the application. I don’t think it’s fair to put up the condition on it. I’m not willing to put that condition on this because it’s not in our ordinance.”

Parker explained that it is in the ordinance to encourage applicants to go this route if possible. This led to a discussion about adding the clause at the last minute without bringing it up during testimony.

Parker explained he did mention this last meeting. “I was shut down by comments from the Planning Board. I’m bringing it up now before we vote –this the last chance…There ought to be some way where we can get the applicant to weigh-in and say, maybe we can try this experimentally on one of the parking lots and get some data that could be available for guidance and future situations,” Parker said.

Allyson Kasetta, attorney at Prime and Tuvel representing Lennar, argued that it would be improper to add this condition to the terms. “I was present at the last hearing when the testimony concluded, and the understanding that we had at that time was that this would not be imposed as a condition… I heard the suggestion that the Board use softer language and recommend… that the applicant explore other options, which might not be as difficult as imposing an actual requirement at this time,” Kasetta said.

The Board voted to add the condition that Lennar must investigate other routes or areas to improve the lighting and decrease skyglow.

Before the vote was taken, Linnus explained the procedure for after the vote. “The Board exercises its option tonight to vote on the application with these conditions. Then I prepare a resolution of memorialization of the application, and with conditions, and that gets circulated to the applicant’s attorney as well as to the board professionals. Then at the night of the adoption of the resolution, the applicant has the right to challenge some of the conditions,” Linnus said.

The vote passed unanimously in a six to zero vote after the two hours of deliberation. This will move the Lennar Project into the next phase to set up the development in Hopewell Township.

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