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Subdivision plan rouses residents' ire

4/10/73

Strong public opposition was raised at last night’s meeting of the planning board over subdividing of a large tract of land on Route 1. Part of the tract would become an industrial park. Part would serve as the site of some 800 apartment units if approved.

Garden Homes Management Corp., of Union, came before the board for preliminary approval of the major subdivision of 160 acres behind the Greenbrier Restaurant and Okonite plant.

The planners’ decision, and further public hearing, was postponed to May 14 in order to give the Middlesex County Planning Board the required period of time to send its conclusions on the firm’s preliminary plat to the township’s board.

According to law, the local planning board can take no action until 30 days after receipt of the county board’s findings. However, the local board must act within 90 days of receipt of the findings.

The angry residents objected to the possible influx of traffic into the area.
To aggravate them' ’ further still, a number of the residents whose property abuts the planned development site said they had not received the required notice which developers must furnish adjoining home-owners.

This in fact came about because the residents’ addresses had been obtained from the township’s tax rolls, and many of them were listed under the names of the former property owners.

William Dailey, township engineer and a member of the board, recommended that the firm’s attorney Fred Becker meet with board attorney Leslie Lefkowitz to straighten out the matter of the addresses, asserting that the notification issue had turned into “a fiasco.”

Although the entire tract is zoned industrial, the firm plans to turn 84 acres into a garden apartment site, and 25 acres to industrial purposes. Of the rest, 47 acres would be retained by Alpha-Omage, Inc., owners of the tract, and 3.5 would be transferred to the Greenbrier.

Board chairman Frank Zorn tried hard to get across to the irate citizens that the board’s
ty is to rule only on the actual subdivision of the property and not on usage. Repeatedly he pointed out, as one objector after another had his say, that the board would be acting illegally if it allowed usage considerations to motivate its decisions.

Thomas Zikakis ose from the audience to demand: “Why do they want to take good industrial land and rezone it to garden apartments? We need ratables. We do need apartments, but why there?”

Zikakis, a fireman who said he was there as a private individual, then asked if the board could table any decision until he could bring in a petition of “more than 50 per cent of registered voters in that area, against this development.”

Zorn repeated his point that the board could act legally only on the actual subdivision and not on usage. “You have recourse to the board of adjustment and your township commitee for usage complaints,” he said.

Others objected to the firm’s statement that its plans for the industrial area have not been formulated as of now. The firm’s attorney, Becker, did
say that they would be specific when the time came for site plan approval, which is the next step following preliminary approval by the planners.

One planner, Benjamin Van Kirk, took a definite stand, however. At the conclusion of the evening he said: “The course of action for this board is crystal clear. Part of this tract is landlocked with no plans for ingress or egress as yet.

“It would be illegal for this board to create any subdivision of a landocked lot.” He won applause from the listeners. It was his second round of applause that night—earlier he was cheered when he demanded of Becker: “What guarantee have we that you won’t come back and ask for additional apartments on that industrial space?”

He was assured bv Becker that this was not the firm’s intent, and that the use. though not specific now, was definitely proposed as industrial for those 25 acres.

Zorn later said that entrance and exits for the landlocked property could be provided by purchase of nearby Penn Central land.
 

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