Hillsborough housing plan for 209-acre tract encounters 'significant problem'

HILLSBOROUGH – A public hearing on a proposal to build almost 200 single-family homes on the former Glen-Gery brickworks factory and quarry between Hamilton and Falcon roads will continue on Dec. 1 as a new issue in the development has arisen.

The board began hearing the proposal by M&M Realty Partners at Hillsborough, a joint venture of JSM at Hillsborough Glen-Gery and JMP at Hillsborough, on July 28.

The development on the 209-acre tract would be on the west side of the CSX railroad. The north end of the development would be behind the Hillsborough Promenade Shopping Center. In plans submitted to the township, the proposed development would be divided into three neighborhoods – two off Falcon Road and one off Hamilton Road.

The developers have agreed to build 88 affordable units on the Sherman tract off Camplain Road on the Manville border as part of the agreement that the Glen-Gery site be zoned for single-family homes. No plans have been submitted for the affordable housing.

However, at the Sept. 22 planning board meeting, a new issue about the single-family development came to light when Board Attorney Eric Bernstein said it had been discovered that 10 of the 198 homes were not in a sewer service area.

Bernstein called it a "significant problem" and Board Chairman Carl Suraci said it was "dumbfounding" that the information was not included in the original application materials.

"How can you not identify properties not in the sewer service area?" he said.

Earlier:Possible contamination, affordable housing factor in Hillsborough quarry plan

Board Engineer Todd Hay also said it was "extremely problematic" and said there were also unanswered questions about buffering by stream corridors.

Douglas Wolfson, attorney for M&M, told the board that the state Department of Environmental Protection has jurisdiction over those issues.

If the DEP disagrees with the proposal, "we will have to come back," Wolfson said.

Wolfson said the developer had provided the board with all the information requested at the July meeting.

"We've done our best," he said. "We are not trying to be combative; we're trying to be cooperative."

"We're not asking for anything unfair," said Mayor Shawn Lipani, who also sits on the Planning Board.

"We've bent over backwards to provide the information that in my experience no other board has asked for," Wolfson continued later. "And we did it with a smile."

Wolfson proposed that the board go forward with the public hearing and could approve it with the condition that no building permits or certificates of occupancy be given until the DEP decides on the issues. He said the outstanding issues were "not a big hurdle."

Wolfson told the board that the proposal was part of a settlement agreement developed together by M&M and the township in Superior Court.

M&M had filed as an intervenor in the township's affordable housing litigation which allowed developers to build a certain amount of market-rate housing in exchange for constructing affordable units.

The agreement allowed M&M to build 380 market-rate homes on the Glen-Gery property, but this application is only the first phase of the project. No plans have been submitted for the remaining units on the eastern side of the property that are not in a sewer service area.

According to the developer's community impact statement, when completed the development would have an assessed value of $143.6 million and generate $3.38 million in property taxes. That is based on an anticipated market value of each home to be $750,000.

When the development is built out to 380 units, the overall assessed value is estimated to be $275.6 million, the community impact statement said.

The development could generate 619 to 736 new residents, with 107 to 167 public-school students, according to the community impact statement.

Of the $3.38 million in new property taxes, according to the community impact statement, the school district would receive approximately $2.8 million while the cost of educating the new students would range from $1.7 million to $2.7 million.

Property taxes for municipal use would total an estimated $500,000 while the cost of providing municipal services, based on $443 per person, would be from $268,000 to $318,000, the community impact statement said.

The proposal comes after the Planning Board earlier this year approved Toll Brothers' plan to build 174 homes on half of Royce Brook Golf, less than 2 miles to the east also on Hamilton Road.

Email: mdeak@mycentraljersey.com

Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account.

This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Hillsborough housing plan encounters 'significant problem'