Apartment Complex In Limbo Despite More Expert Analysis

Tax implications, traffic analysis explained before crowd of residents who spoke out against proposed development on Kings Highway.

Attorney Michael Selvaggi, right, with traffic expert Craig Peregoy before the Washington Township Committee Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Attorney Michael Selvaggi, right, with traffic expert Craig Peregoy before the Washington Township Committee Wednesday, Dec. 11.

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.

Video: Apartment Complex 'Not What Our Town Needs'

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. 

Maria December 17, 2013 at 09:49 AM
Truly sorry, feel I've monopolized this thread and now, I will move on with my day.... :)
Bill Hanson December 17, 2013 at 10:54 AM
Maria I was just going with the average, no problem. There are many homes in Long Valley that are big and well over $20,000 a year in taxes. One of the biggest difference in Long Valley, and why many people focus on schools, our school property taxes are close to 75% of your bill. (2 districts k-8 and 9-12). Many of the towns in the state are 50 to 60%.
The Stig December 17, 2013 at 11:57 AM
@Nedd - Recheck your Math - LV is 24th, not 16th (the fact that taxes are above average should have been a clue that the township residents weren't doing better than average). Being 8% over the county average is nothing to crow about. Closing a school down would save taxpayers millions and move LV closer to the mean of MC, where it belongs.
The Stig December 17, 2013 at 12:21 PM
The Stig December 17, 2013 at 12:22 PM
Above is in order based on Effective Rate in the table YOU published. Everyone can count for themselves.
The Stig December 17, 2013 at 12:26 PM
.167/1.99 = .0839 or 8.4%
The Stig December 17, 2013 at 12:27 PM
Excel never makes a mistake
Bill Hanson December 17, 2013 at 01:04 PM
Just curious why are my income figures wrong and the others correct? Mine are from census 2010. Go to US gov site
Maria December 17, 2013 at 01:58 PM
@Bill- I'm here to discuss and publicize the fact that there are many cons and few pros to the proposed Kings Hwy development, as well as learn what I can. SO, I will reply by saying that I get your point insteading of getting into a political discussion. Bunch of math folks, love it, much less nasty...since I'm not privy to all your data, I was curious and checked the figures thinking things could have changed from 2009. On the mls listings a house in Boonton with comparable 2012 assessed price as mine has almost exactly the same taxes. So, Washington Twp. is a great deal for your money if you want good schools/bigger newer home/bigger property, the big downside being the commute. What did I say about living situations and compromise?
The Stig December 17, 2013 at 03:52 PM
First, it seems that Mr. Nedd, by failing to argue otherwise, is conceding that LV is in the bottom half of Morris County (i.e., 24th cheapest out of 39, not 16th). Second, he was the one who used the County Mean - $1.99 above and miscalculated how much more expensive LV was than the county average (almost 9%). Once he realized his mistake, rather than admit it he switched to Median to make LV's taxes to appear a bit more towards the norm (only 4% more expensive). It would be better to admit the truth, LV is no bargain, and the main reason is the cost of the schools. Given the sharp reduction in the number of students being educated, a trend projected to continue downward for a few more years, it is ridiculous to continue to argue that the district shouldn't be closing down one school, either next year or the year after. So once again - Build the apartment complex and spread the high taxes over a bigger base, and, close a school building and save residents even more $$$$$$$$$$$$.
Maria December 17, 2013 at 06:10 PM
@Stig - There is much contention that building the apartments will lower taxes. The cost to provide services for 450 new residents has many variables....like has been mentioned previously, the estimate for the number of kids seems dubious, and if there are a few with special needs...
DBA December 17, 2013 at 09:15 PM
I've been reading this thread for a while now and (very interesting and often entertaining) IMHO it seems obvious that this comes down to $$. On the one hand there is a developer who obviously thinks it would do better to build apartments rather than single family homes (or retain the property as an industrial property) vs the money it would cost the township (leaving the place empty or educating more people), potentially impact house prices/tax bills etc. There are the intangible and harder to quantify arguments (NIMBY, change of the "rural-ness" of LV). To me, I think it boils down to: Would granting an EXCEPTION for this developer be an overall positive or negative impact for the township? I tend to think that overall, there is not enough benefit to the township to justify the exception.
Bill Hanson December 17, 2013 at 11:25 PM
I will say this for the 10th time I HAVE NO ISSUE WITH CLOSING OFRS. I was trying to show people why I know OFRS is in good shape. I go there. If it makes the most sense close it.
Maria December 18, 2013 at 07:15 AM
@DBA - well stated and I agree. You did forget to mention a big issue with the apartments, the fact that this area already has many traffic issues and to add 400 more cars will only create more congestion at the intersection and more accidents on the winding mountain road...and yes, it has been entertaining :)
Bill Hanson December 18, 2013 at 09:57 AM
Agreed, from all I know it could be done today. Town would be fair then. Elementary on the mountain, Middle school and high school in the Valley. 6 grades and pre school on mountain 7 grades in the valley not bad.
Maria December 18, 2013 at 10:24 AM
@Bill and Kevin - agreed. Busing is the biggest impact to the kids if class sizes remain the same. As much as I don't want to keep bringing up the closing of schools, I did take notice of the assumption the F/K would be the school(s) to close. All I could think was that the folks living in the western part of town seem to have to do all the compromising...dense apartments, longest commute to ALL schools. Can we now keep the conversation on topic?
Hookerman December 18, 2013 at 11:29 AM
If posters are using the closing of a school as a reason to reject the apartments, then the subject of a school closing is NOT off-topic.
History WT December 18, 2013 at 12:04 PM
This boils down to one thing -- the legal precedent of ripping zoning from one end of the spectrum to the other. Industrial to rental apartments is as dramatic a change as there is, right past office, commercial, retail, McMansions, townhouse, and condos. Newburgh Road has a mile of industrial zoned properties -- they go temporarily empty why shouldn't they be given a few thousand apartments? Better roads, walking distance to shopping in both Mansfield and Hastings Square. They would have an A+ application, this one is a D-. That struggling Blockbuster mall on 46? (yes, that is Washington Township). They would make a lot more money with apartments. And, hey, what about all that useless, unproductive farmland? Let's pave paradise.
Maria December 18, 2013 at 02:03 PM
@Hookerman - I think people want to APPROVE the project in hopes that it will bring in enough kids to AVOID closing a school. Please see previous conversation where Jason posted the research numbers, he summizes that the number of kids in the apartments would barely "make a dent" in the decision either way. That is why I feel this muddles the issue. But it is obviously a favorite topic.... @History WT - I agree with you 100%. For those of you on the other side of town who feel this does not affect you, if this "exception" is okayed, the next development could be the abandoned farmland on your street....
Hookerman December 18, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Yes, and there are those who say the apartments should NOT be approved because this will delay the closing of a school. Why would one POV be off-topic, while the other isn't? And if only 40 kids will be added to the K-12 schools system as a result of this project, then won't that addition have very little negative impact on the school systems, and on increased property taxes? If so, then why aren't these factors also considered "off-topic"?
Maria December 18, 2013 at 03:42 PM
@Hookerman - Please explain your first sentence. No apartments, less kids. How will this delay closing a school? As for your point about taxes, I don't know. I just don't agree that providing services to 450 new residents (and the infrastructure costs) will LOWER taxes, as someone had mentioned. Everything should be open for discussion, you are right. It is all interconnected at some level. But aren't we trying to understand the ramifications of doing this? You have just stated that the school and taxes may be minimal issues. Fine. The major issues (from the comments on the petition) are traffic and what I'll sum up (from someone's comment) as; "It is changing the town and the reason we moved here". A precedent like this is HUGE. This is a beautiful town, please think long-term people.
Maria December 18, 2013 at 06:19 PM
I know you see it that way Kevin. I know many people never venture out this way and feel they are not impacted in any way. I thought this town thought highly of natural beauty! When I drive around, a yard sale will take me down a new street, what an adventure, what a surprise! The farms and the valley and the woodlands. They are a TREASURE! Every special little part of it. All the tucked away dirt roads, twisty mountainous paths, ALL OF IT. It is a rare thing in NJ. It is what makes this a special place! For our town government to basically say we value apartment buildings over an area full of wildlife, a river stocked with fish, it just really saddens me. And once it is done, it can never be undone. And we open the door for the next developer...
Maria December 18, 2013 at 07:56 PM
And with that I think I'm done. Thanks for putting up with me and If you disagree with building these apartments, there is still time to make your voice heard. https://www.change.org/petitions/no-overdevelopment-to-kings-hwy
Bill Hanson December 19, 2013 at 06:54 AM
Maria always good to here many points of view. NIMBY is a positive term to me. You care about your neighborhood, your town, your fellow citizens, your state, NIMBY is not just next door. It extends to many places. Never apologize for taking legal action for what you think is right .
Maria December 19, 2013 at 07:21 AM
Thanks much for that Bill. I'm not apologizing in any way, just done trying to ascertain the reasons the town and its residents feel this is NECESSARY. What tangible, positive things will come from it. What tangible, negative things will come from not doing it. And, hopefully the readers here can come to the same conclusions I have, and that there are NO GOOD REASONS FOR DOING THIS.
Maria December 19, 2013 at 08:32 AM
There are available rentals in the same price range. We've been through this already...it is not a necessity. The negatives GREATLY outweigh the positives in my opinion.
Bill Hanson December 19, 2013 at 09:45 AM
The Township Committee will address the issue of apartments on its time schedule.
Bill Hanson December 19, 2013 at 10:42 AM
There is good reasons for not doing this, saftey, cost ect.....
Maria December 19, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Kevin - I look at it from the potential renter's perspective. There is supply to meet the demand... to put it in a language a math person might better appreciate :) Here's where it lies in importance: (and I did structure it, but the patch throws it all together) if PersonNeedsHousing then if Rental then if TownInDesiredRadius then if Rent <= PersonDesireRent then if NumOfBed >= PersonDesireNumOfBed then if RentalCondtionFactor >= PersonDesireCondtionFactor then if SchoolQualityFactor >= PersonDesireSchoolQualityFactor then if Apartment or Townhouse or Condo LIFE IS GOOD! elseif Home evaluate ? LIFE STILL MAY BE GOOD! endevaluate endif endif endif endif endif endif endif endif
Maria December 20, 2013 at 08:50 AM
I know this is a serious topic, but sometimes just got to lighten it up a bit....


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