The room was packed at Borough Hall for the Hopewell Borough Planning Board meeting on September 5. After residents of Hopewell Borough voiced concerns about the proposed plan for 11 Seminary Avenue, RB Homes Inc. decided to go back to the drawing board and revisit the proposal and consider neighbors before moving forward.
The proposed application planned for seven one-bedroom apartments and one business and commercial unit with seven or eight parking stalls in the attached lot. Each apartment would be about 670 square feet and include one bedroom, one bathroom, a kitchen and living area.
Daniel Barsky, assistant manager of RB Homes Inc., explained that the apartments would be ideal for young professionals, a young couple, or even an elderly couple — anyone who does not require that much room. t would be marketable to people looking to downsize or come into the Borough.
“The Planning Board is trying to determine the usage of this lot and how you’ve proposed it,” said board member Bob Donaldson. “The economic marketability of the property is really not our concern at the discussion today. It’s really about the density, it’s about public safety, it’s about parking. It’s those things that we have to worry about.”
Some residents believe that the lot would flourish with two bedroom apartments instead of one, because it has such a central location to parks and schools for families with children.
“I feel like the understanding of the street is a little skewed, too,” said resident Kaitlin Deering. “Yes, it doesn’t have a backyard but we are half a block from Hopewell Park and also Hopewell Elementary. So, I feel like two or three apartments would be perfectly suitable for that situation.”
Residents also brought up issues regarding the proposed parking situation on Seminary Avenue, and how it is difficult to find parking there any time of the day, considering the current scarcity of parking spaces. The concern is that adding apartments with limited parking availability would cause more difficulty if the tenants have multiple vehicles or if the tenant’s guests visit and want to park on the street.
While the representatives informed the Board that they made an agreement with 1st Constitution Bank to reserve a number of spots in its parking lot for tenants, some residents thought it would be unrealistic to walk 0.8 miles back and forth and that people would look for street parking instead.
“I love walking, but I think it’s absurd that someone is going to walk eight-tenths of a mile round trip to go park their car,” said Brenda Considine. “I just don’t see it happening. I think they’re going to park anywhere they can find it.”
RB Homes Inc. decided to revisit the plan and consider more of the neighbor’s thoughts and concerns before returning to the Board with another plan.
The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for October 3 at 7:30pm.