Filled with residents from the Kings Highway section of Washington Township, the municipal building became a house divided Wednesday night, as representatives from Kings Highway, LLC continued to state their case for redeveloping a parcel of land to create an apartment complex.
Those residents who live nearby, however, did not shy away from speaking their minds on the issue.
Bringing forth two more experts on traffic and housing market data, attorney Michael Selvaggi stated Kings Highway, LLC’s case yet again before the township committee. Selvaggi and his witnesses spent more than two hours going over details of the proposal during a November meeting.
This time, the development side delved into specific numbers about cost of the rental units on a monthly basis and the tax implications that would have on the town. The development group is seeking a redevelopment ordinance on what is now industrial-use land to create residential housing.
Using the only other apartment complex in Washington Township as a comparable, market analyst Peter Matone said the proposed units would be bigger than what is available in Peachtree Village at the corner of Rt. 46 and East Avenue.
The prices would be higher as well, by an estimated 20-percent, Matone said.
A one-bedroom apartment on Kings Highway, if developed at a size of 820-square-feet, would cost $1,575 per month. A two-bedroom apartment jump $400 to $1,975 monthly at a size of 1,120-square-feet; and a three-bedroom apartment, with a size of 1,420 square feet, would run $2,375 per month.
Each unit would add $200 per month if located on the bottom floor of the building and had basement availability, Matone said.
The 208-apartment complex with integrated low- and moderate-income housing would generate anywhere between $600,000 and $650,000 in real estate taxes annually.
Of those figures, more than $111,000 would go to the municipality, while approximately $300,000 would go the Washington Township School District. Another $140,000, approximately, would go to the West Morris Regional High School District, and the remaining $66,000 would be paid to the county.
Those figures are just a projection, Matone said, as there are many variables involved.
Selvaggi also mentioned that subdividing the land for the purpose of building single-family homes, under the Highlands Act, would restrict development to two, maybe three homes.
Traffic vs. Quality of Life
Selvaggi told the committee he felt the November presentation may have gotten bogged down in too much data, especially when it came to the traffic discussion.
“What people want to know is, ‘how is this going to impact my quality of life,’” he said.
Traffic expert Craig Peregoy tried to clear up the confusion and answer Selvaggi’s question by saying “there isn’t going to be much change” in the traffic delays on Kings Highway.
Peregoy said his studies showed there would be one extra car every three minutes, and that “it’s not going to take any longer to leave the driveway” for Kings Highway residents.
The expert then said even if the projections were wrong, and the number of vehicles coming to and from during peak rush hour times doubled, it would only cause a the additional flow to be one car every 90 seconds.
His comment was met with a “bull----“ from an angry resident.
Residents Express Rage
As of Wednesday some 240 Washington Township residents signed an online petition created following the most recent meeting opposing the development.
There was no subtlety put forth by 17 Kings Highway-area residents who took to the municipal building’s microphone Wednesday night, some prefacing comments with “this may not be politically correct, but…”
Nearly all who spoke expressed concern about the traffic, but others took aim at how the nearby residents would benefit, if at all.
“What do we get out of this,” said Patrice Schaffer, who lives in close proximity to the land in question. “Where’s the positive impact? This is not the area for this particular project. This is not what our town wants, and this is not what our town needs.”
Others took a more sarcastic approach, trying to discredit the data and analysis brought forth by the development experts.
“So we would have people who don’t have cars, aren’t having children, and have lots of money?” questioned Jackie Crowe, drawing laughs from the audience. Crowe joined Schaffer, and others in saying the area just wasn’t right for the proposed development.
After the meeting, Selvaggi took umbrage with some of the comments.
“As a resident of this town,” the attorney said, “I’m disappointed in the comments made here tonight.”
The decision to rezone the site is still in the hands of three township committee members – Tracy Tobin, James LiaBraaten, and David Kennedy. On Dec. 31, Kennedy’s term expires. He will be succeeded by Donald Babb, who was in attendance Wednesday night.
No further notice of when action would be taken was given.