Planning Board Approves 32-Home Cluster Development At Cedar Grove Lane And Amwell Road

F. Mitchell Ardman speaks about the development at the Dec. 6 Planning Board meeting.

A much-discussed proposal to build 32 homes at the corner of Amwell Road and Cedar Grove Lane was approved Dec. 6 by the Planning Board.

The project will result in about 11 acres of open space along Amwell Road that will ultimately be owned either by the developer, Anatol Hiller, the homeowner’s association for the new development or the current owners of the land, the Resta family.

The township does not want to take title to the land, and a handful of township advisory boards recommended that it not do so.

This was not the first time the board heard about the project. In October, an informal hearing was held to let board members hear the recommendations of those committees and make an endorsement.

The plan the board approved Dec. 6 was the plan it endorsed in October.

The entrance road to the project will be on Cedar Grove Lane, as will an emergency road for first responders. The emergency road will be blocked with a locked chain.

A main road will cut through the property, ending in a cul-de-sac, with two smaller offshoot roads also ending in cul-de-sacs.

The project’s developer, Anatol Hiller, opted to create a natural resource preservation cluster subdivision rather than build the project out with one house per acre, as is permitted by the underlying zoning.

Instead, each house will be built on a 20,000-square-foot lot, which leaves the roughly 11 acres for open space.

The proposed lot size “matches up pretty well” with existing lots on Cedar Grove Lane, said F. Mitchell Ardman, teh project’s planner.

“This is a good site design for this property,” he said. “It really fits the lots well.”

Peter Lanfrit, Hiller’s attorney, said that if the township did not want to accept the open space, “we will sit down with staff” to determine what to do with it.

In response to a question from a Cedar Grove Lane resident, traffic engineer Gary Dean said the development would result in about 24 cars entering rush hour traffic during a peak hour.

“That sounds like a lot if it was all 24 vehicles showing up at once, but they don’t,” he said. “Not everyone leaves at once, people leave at 5:30 or 6 or 7:30. That’s about one car leaving every 2-3 minutes. For anyone driving on Cedar Grove Lane … it’s imperceptible and it’s not going to have a detrimental affect on Cedar Grove Lane.”

“The zoning allows and anticipated this type of development,” he said.

Noting earlier testimony that the township’s cluster ordinance requires that 40 percent of the subject land be open space – a threshold this project does not meet – Cedar Grove Lane resident Walter Quagliano asked why that was.

“Forty percent open space would mean much smaller lot sizes,” Ardman said. “There would be more houses lined up on either side of the road.

The board unanimously approved the project and the several variances needed.

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