The Collection at Hopewell discussed at June Planning Board meeting

The applicant for the “Collection at Hopewell” Development property (“The Collection”), which is planned for Washington Crossing-Pennington Road near the Pennington Circle, finished testimony before the Hopewell Township Planning Board at its regular meeting on June 24. The Planning Board continued to hear Eric Keller, a traffic expert, and finished the testimony with Creigh Rahenkamp, a land development consultant.

The applicant, US Home at Hopewell Urban Renewal, LLC, intends to construct 379 residential units that will comprise The Collection. Specifically, the site plan includes 29 three-story buildings consisting of 61 traditional townhouses, 144 stacked townhouses, 96 multifamily units, and 78 affordable housing units housed in four separate apartment buildings. Previous reporting on The Collection at Hopewell can be found at this link and this link, and a complete application and Board recording can be found at this link.

At the moment, Road One is proposed to connect the housing project to Reed Road by going through Lot 9. Gary Dean, the traffic consultant for the Board, stated that without the Reed Road access on Lot 9, the Development essentially is a multifamily cul-de-sac. This means that there is only one way in and out of the development. If the development meets that condition, there is a daily traffic limit of 1,000 vehicles instead of the no trip limit if it is not a cul-de-sac. Without the Reed Road entrance, the only entrance to the development would be the Rt. 546 entrance.

Keller explained that he doesn’t believe that the development fits the conditions to mandate a trip limit. With the addition of an emergency access path at Diverty Road and the divided boulevards that allow for easy turn arounds within the development, he said that this would not classify as multifamily cul-de-sac.“In addition to the emergency access, I do believe, putting aside whether we have Road One go to Reed Road or not, this is not a multifamily access cul-de-sac, and therefore there are no trip limits applicable to the development,” Keller said.

The Board Engineer, Mark Kataryniak, explained that, depending on how the Board looks at the project, both answers are acceptable. “If you look at this in totality of the whole site, you have the one access of a 546. If you start breaking this down into the components of the development, you have an internal road circulation that works that brings you multiple points of circulation.”

Board Chair Karen Murphy summarized that this is a technical issue. “It’s a technical waiver. There’s a definition that isn’t very clearly defined. The illustration that was shown to us was specifically said for illustrative purposes only…I don’t think that either [of] the professionals…are saying that what we see here is unsafe.” she explained.

This led the Planning Board to continue discussing Lot 9 and its effects on the development.

Lot 9 will be developed if the Township decides to build a community center. This happens after 50% of the development has occupancy. Rahenkamp explained that if the community center does not get built, the development will build a standard clubhouse for the residents. “There is a requirement that a clubhouse, with a fitness room and club room, will be provided. [This] has been, for a long time in our hearings, shown on the plan as a clubhouse, pool, recreation area adjacent to the dog park and across from our largest park area.” Rahenkamp said.

As the meeting continued, Rahenkamp testified that the design of the development will have housing to fit different stages of life. “It creates a sense of place for the community, leading into the design requirements. There’s a desire that this is not a traditional subdivision, a typical multifamily apartment rental complex, that there is an approach to the design of the site that creates a sense of place for the overall community,” Rahenkamp said.

Rahenkamp explained that the development is created with families in mind. “What we have here presented in the streets and the alleys,[is] a design technique that creates better streetscapes and better neighborhoods, a central circle with boulevards that create clear divisions between neighborhoods, [and] clear areas where kids can play,” Rahenlamp said.

As well, they implemented safety measures to slow drivers coming through the development. “What was important about the redevelopment plan is, it wanted to create all of these connections that went in every direction so that neighborhoods are connected to one another, but to not create an easy [shortcut]. This would not be a way that people would want to jump through the community to get somewhere else.”

The board has finished with testimony and will begin deliberations in the meeting on Thursday, August 12.

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