Plan For 32 Homes At Cedar Grove Lane And Amwell Road Endorsed By Planning Board

Attorney Peter Lanfrit speaks to the Planning Board Oct. 4 about a plan to build 32 homes at Cedar Grove Lane and Amwell Road.

A plan to cluster 32 homes at the corner of Cedar Grove Lane and Amwell Road received an endorsement from the Planning Board Oct. 4.

In giving its endorsement, the board also recommended that about 11 acres of planned open space be kept where originally targeted at the southern end of the roughly 39-acre property, and that the township not accept a deed to that land if it is offered.

Board members said the open space would serve no real purpose for the township, and recommended that it either be managed by the future development’s homeowners’ association or kept by the land’s current owners, the Resta family.

The board’s endorsement called for the homes to be built on 20,000-square-foot lots, which was also preferred by the developer, Anatol Hiller, over an alternative plan to build the homes on 15,000-square-foot lots.

The project could be fully built out with each house on 40,000-square-foot lots with no open space. Hiller instead opted for what’s called a “natural resource preservation cluster subdivision,” where the homes are built closer together and open space is created.

Given the choice between 15,000-square-foot lots and 20,000-square-foot lots, it was felt by board members – and the developer – that the larger lot size would provide for nicer homes and more space between buildings.

The Oct. 4 session was not a formal hearing, it was just an opportunity for the board to hear recommendations by several township advisory committees that had reviewed the plans, and to make its endorsement.

The committees which reviewed the plans were the Environmental Commission, the Open Space Advisory Committee, the Agricultural Advisory Committee and the Shade Tree Commission.

None of those bodies opposed the plan, Mark Healey, the township’s planning director, told the board. He said the agricultural committee recommended that the open space be placed at the northern end of the property, while the open space committee thought the open space should be left where proposed. The shade tree commission, he said, recommended that the open space be connected if possible to current township open space with a trail.

“With that, it’s back to the board,” Healey said.

Board member Robert Mettler was the first to broach the idea that the township not take ownership of the 11 acres of open space.

“I view this open space as of limited value to the township,” he said. “It should remain with the management and be maintained by an association of homeowners as they see fit.”

“Maybe it could remain with the current owner, with a deed restriction, if the current owner wants to farm it,” said Peter Lanfrit, the developer’s attorney.

“I don’t think this open space is of any particular benefit to the general public,” board member Robert Thomas said. “If we can keep it off our roles and get the benefit of it not being built on, that would be fine. I would have no problem with its staying with the present owner for farming if they want.”

Township Councilman Ted Chase said he would be in favor of the township taking deed to the open space “which could be leased out as farmland if we want to.”


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