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In Your Opinion: So. Middlebush Road Temple Ignores Township Master Plan

Submitted by Arnold Schmidt.

In reference to the proposed South Middlebush Road Dada Bhagwan Vignan Institute project, I have the following questions:

1) How does clear-cutting a mature dense tree stand (up to 12 acres) benefit the people of Franklin by the applicant paying into our tree fund and/or planting a few trees to satisfy an ordinance when doing this does not replace this old forest canopy and the wildlife habitat that would be destroyed – especially when it goes directly against the Township Council’s 2016 Proclamation to adopt a tree canopy goal of a3% increase over what it was in 2016?  This was reaffirmed just last week by Mayor Kramer in his Arbor Day proclamation.

2) How does clear-cutting this mature dense tree stand help our Township Council’s 2017 Resolution to support Climate Control when we know trees are among our greatest defenses against climate change by the sequestration of carbon and their production of oxygen?

3) How is clear-cutting all of these trees beneficial – when in the Township’s Master Plan – Scenic Corridors are defined as “areas that are visible from scenic roadways that may exhibit one or more of the following features…” including, from the Master Plan, “Mature woodlands, hedgerows, dense tree stands and substantial individual trees.”?

4) How is clear-cutting all of these trees better than using the already cleared adjacent 6-acre area, owned by the applicant, which can be used, in part, for a parking area and possibly more, and with appropriate aesthetic tree planting and buffering would preserve the scenic corridor view? 

And finally, why not just save this forest, this sacred grove of trees with ecological benefits?  Why not save it for our community, for our people, for our future generations?

It appears this plan’s reasoning includes destroying part of our Master Plan’s well-defined scenic corridor view – to save part of a scenic corridor, that will be a lot less scenic upon clear-cutting these trees as currently proposed.   

I am not against the building of this temple and I recognize the applicant’s right to do so as well as the beautiful increased diversity it brings to Franklin.  However, building in a more harmonious way with nature will benefit us all.  If the applicant wants their variances approved there should be a way to design this plan without upsetting the balance of our natural resources, the beauty of our scenic corridor and disrupting the neighboring properties.  Variances are not an absolute right.

I look forward to the applicant’s and the Zoning Board’s responses to these critical questions and issues. 

Thank you.


Arnold Schmidt is an Appointed Member of the Township Environmental Commission and Township Shade Tree Commission.

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