Now is the time to pressure the Planning Board to recommend amending the plan. Your voice and presence is needed at meetings. The Redevelopment Plan is NOT APPROVED YET. web view
Wednesday, June 19th, was the first Toll Bros. Middletown Walk meeting. Before I get into the residential tract meeting wrap up, know that THE PLAN IS NOT APPROVED YET.
I've had previous conversations with Toll Bros. concerning issues we have with this residential development, regarding setbacks, drainage, open space, building height, rooftop decks, lack of transitional housing, shortage of various housing types, and affordable housing segregation. I was told the redevelopment plan allows for all this and that they are in compliance.
So, WE NEED TO PRESSURE THE PLANNING BOARD to make recommendations to the Township Committee to amend the redevelopment plan to make it more appropriate for our existing communities.
ATTEND PLANNING BOARD MEETINGS. The next meeting for Toll Bros. is Wednesday, August 7th. Traffic and/ or architecture could be the focus. The next big Traffic meeting is July 10th, the Town will present its independent traffic study. Both are very important meetings, both need to be well attended.
Meeting Highlights, Toll Bros first residential review:
AFFORDABLE HOUSING (AH) ––Retaining walls and fenced-in SEGREGATED affordable housing were the main takeaways.
__The townhomes have extra parking for guests, while the AH has the bare minimum number (142) of required parking spaces.
__ If the AH residents want to utilize additional parking anywhere else on the site, they will not be allowed.
__70 - AH segregated units will be rentals managed by a separate company and will have a separate name. These units will be apartments (some 1BR, some 2 BR, some 3 BR) in 3 buildings on 4 acres with one tot lot play area and only one ingress/egress. There will be a retaining wall with a fence on top in front of the complex to insure that AH residents cannot utilize the amenities or the parking spaces dedicated to the market rate units.
__It was made clear that this is, in fact, a SEPARATE and SEGREGATED community. The ingress/egress does not connect with the Middletown Walk community at all. The residents will have no access to any Walk amenities, including parking. The Toll engineer and attorney emphasized that the AH parking meets the minimum required by law, and, even after residents questioned overflow parking, repeated that standards were met. This is total denial of real situations. Again, there are 142 parking spaces assigned to 70 apartments and no additional visitor parking. If you live there and have family over, they had better carpool.
DISREGARD FOR AN EXISTING NEIGHBORHOOD, CARRIAGE DRIVE
Carriage Drive properties abut the east side of the Toll Bros' residential property.
The project will require large amounts of landfill to level out the land behind the residents on Carriage Drive. In some areas, the landfill will be 10 feet deep, and 3-story townhomes with rooftop decks will be built on top of that.
Residents expressed serious concerns about the height of these buildings, particularly regarding the rooftop decks on the units adjacent to Carriage Drive. One pointed out : “This is not Manhattan.” The Toll Bros lawyer cited the Housing Association as being the ones responsible for deterring noise and late night roof deck parties.
The Township and the redevelopment planner created this plan, and apparently they consider rooftop decks looking down into existing yards appropriate housing to be built adjacent to single-family homes. Further, the height of the Toll Bros townhomes will cast a shadow on the Carriage Drive properties. Not fair.
USABLE OPEN SPACE
––When questioned about usable open space, the Toll engineer speculated that a walking trail would encircle the retention basin and that picnic benches would be included in the plan “somewhere”, both to be confirmed later.
WATER MANAGEMENT / FLOODING
__The landfill will change how the water slopes toward the wetlands, and this could mean excessive water collecting along the back of Carriage Drive in the Heritage neighborhood, as one resident pointed out .
__Proper drainage is an issue and who to call if all goes to hell after theproject is built and you have water buildup on your property (existing homes in the Carriage/Heritage community) was asked.
__The engineer claimed his drainage plan is suitable to handle the 100-year storms. When pressed, the engineer admitted that this area receives considerably more rain than in the past and there will be overflow in the wetlands from the basin. Currently, the residents adjacent to that area already
have considerable drainage issues.
__A resident mentioned that the K. Hovnanian single-family homes east of site (Tanglewood Estates) already have water issues, and they were built very recently.
RETAINING WALL / BUFFER
__The developer is proposing a retaining wall all along the border of the residential project on Kings Highway East north of the complex entrance on Augustus Way (directly across from Kings Landing). Supposedly, this wall will be mixed in with the existing trees and not noticeable .
__Garbage collection might require different trucks than the usual side-loading vehicles the Township has now. The Township representative commented that a private garbage company might be required, and the truck could be there all day. This seems to contradict the Township’s plan to have all residential housing (except where dumpsters are in use, as in multi-family buildings) serviced by the same hauler and paid for via taxes, not fees.
__A resident suggested that the Planning Board consider further investigation of safety of the site re chemical residue because of the site’s history.
__Comment was made that the Planning Board is not holding the Toll residential redevelopment plan to the same high standards as the Taylor Lane application which was recently before the Board. No one on the Planning Board commented; their silence was awkward.
__A resident pointed out that answers from Toll often were that “standards were met”. That resident said that although Toll apparently was satisfied with minimum standards in all instances, the residents of existing communities are not.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR.
NEXT MEETING DATES:
July 10, 2019, 6:30 pm, Town Hall.
TRAFFIC The Township's commissioned traffic study will be reviewed and recommendations for traffic flow and remediation will be heard. RT35 and our neighborhood roadways are at peril. View the Independent Traffic study here.
August 7, 2019, 6:30 pm, Town Hall.
RESIDENTIAL #2 This will be the second hearing for the Toll Brothers Middletown Walk, 350-residential unit project planned under the Village 35 Redevelopment Plan. The Architectural and/or Traffic review for the residential tract will be heard.
They plan these meetings in the summer in the hopes no one is able to attend. Prove them wrong and show-up. All of us need to be involved to make change happen.
Our Goals for the Circus Liquors Redevelopment Plan, formerly known as Village 35:
Create more open passive and recreational space, be mindful of the rights of surrounding residents, reduce additional traffic congestion, public involvement for the design and a plan that is appropriate for the area and protects our quality of life.