Two new large residential developments before Hopewell Township planning board

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The Hopewell Township Planning Board listened to the last of the Hopewell Parc application for a residential and affordable housing development to be located on the west side of Scotch Road, south of Washington Crossing Pennington Road, which will include 1,077 living units. The planning board also began hearing the application for the construction of 379 residential units and community center with fitness and wellness facilities near the Pennington Circle.

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

Applicant Lennar, represented by Allyson Kasetta, attorney at Prime and Tuvel, led the final questioning of lighting expert Christina Spangler, to establish a satisfactory solution to the board’s priorities to save energy and lower light pollution.

At the Board’s request, the applicant modified its application to reduce the initial 223 light poles in the north section 121 fixtures. As well, 322 fixtures in the south have been reduced to 147 lighting fixtures. The last reduction was in the parking lots areas. 

“Even though it has the aesthetic of the lantern, it still has the optics and distributions of a more typical shoe box or commercial style luminaire,” Spangler said. “In December we started with 180 poles throughout all the parking lots and we’ve now reduced it to nine,” Spangler explained to the board.

Chairwoman Karen Murphy made one last addition to the plan explaining that areas such as the sidewalk and stairs that did not connect to the housing areas need to also be lit for emergency personnel.

“Although I appreciate the great reduction in the number of fixtures, I think there’s a couple areas where we might have to add some more, just so that our emergency service personnel and police [are] not entering a dark area,” Murphy explained.

There are 60 separate proposed conditions to review before the Board before the final vote on the Hopewell Parc application, and because of this, the Board decided to delay the vote to the next meeting: Thursday, May 27. 

Planning board attorney Francis Linus explained the procedure: “You’re not taking action tonight under that scenario. So, basically you can review… the proposed conditions, you’ll take a look at them before the next meeting, and then you’ll discuss them at the next meeting, and take action at the next meeting.”

The Board then turned their attention to the next applicant, US Home at Hopewell Urban Renewal, LLC, Major Subdivision, Preliminary/Final and Site Plan, Preliminary/Final otherwise known as “The Collection at Hopewell”. The development is proposed for a property located on Washington Crossing Pennington Road near the Route 31 Pennington circle.

The US Home at Hopewell Urban Renewal is represented by Frank Petrino, the applicant’s attorney. Petrino explained that this is the second time this project has been in front of the Board. The last time was in January 2018.  

“We’re seeking several things. We’re seeking preliminary and final subdivision approval, which would create 87 lots, including a lot upon which a proposed senior and community center with fitness and wellness facilities would be constructed, not by us but by others. We’re also seeking preliminary and final site plan approval to construct a total of 379 residential units, some or most will be for sale. There will be some rental units within 29 three-story buildings that consists of 61 traditional townhouses, 144 stacked townhouses, 96 multi-family units, and 78 affordable housing units,” explained Petrino. 

Petrino outlined what experts the Board could expect to hear from during the application hearing including: Lennar director Mitch Newman will discuss the residential aspects of the complex; engineer Sean Delany, principal at Bowman Consulting, will discuss the redevelopment plan and roadways, lighting, and landscaping; Eric L. Keller, the traffic engineer; and finally the applicant’s site planner. 

Mitch Newman, director of land acquisition and entitlements for Lennar’s New Jersey division, summarized the project and its history: “We started with the 2017 redevelopment plan that was amended, and then a redevelopment agreement (2012), and they had a concept plan attached to them, which is a little different than the plan you have in front of you,” Newman said.

Newman explained that the redevelopment plan has a section that acknowledges that the concept plan is subject to change, provided that the project continues to comply with the redevelopment plan.

The changes made from the previous plan involved relocation of areas like the senior building and school board offices as well as the addition of a dog park, community garden, and a central green space. 

One of the significant concerns brought up to the applicant was a path to the nearest Shoprite located directly adjacent to the development.

Newman explained that, due to a septic tank located in the area and wetlands, it is not possible to put a sidewalk or roadway for people to walk across. “The only way you could get to a flat area, as opposed to walking over there mounted septic and coming down the other side to our retaining wall, will be to walk all the way to the south around the end of the septic system…once you get to the southern part of their mounted septic, you’re now walking through wetlands and wetland buffers,” Newman said

Newman is expected to continue his discussion with the board this week about the Collection at Hopewell. If time allows, Engineer Sean Delany is scheduled to speak on the redevelopment plan and infrastructure of the area. 

The next meeting will be on Thursday, May 27 at 7pm. Link to the agenda can be found here.

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