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New Use for Kings Highway Land to be Discussed

Open meeting with subcommittee and Kings Highway, LLC representatives to be held in early April.

Despite a denial by three township committeemen to rezone a parcel of Washington Township land that would clear space for hundreds of apartment units, a development company and the governing body are reconvening to discuss alternatives.

Kings Highway, LLC will sit down with members from the Washington Township committee and planning board on Wednesday, April 2, to discuss other ways to use the land at the bottom of Kings Highway in Washington Township, near the border of Mansfield Township.

Representing the development company will be attorney Michael Selvaggi, who will meet with Committeemen Tracy Tobin and James LiaBraaten and planning board members Lou Mont and Charles DiSalvo.

As meetings progress, members of the Highland Committee will likely be invited to join the discussion, according to Township Administrator Andrew Coppola.

Three members of the township committee – Tobin, LiaBraaten, and newcomer Donald Babb – declined the concept plan of the proposed 208-unit apartment complex. The decision came after two years of Kings Highway, LLC presenting plans to the planning board and committee, of which it never actually became an applicant.

Related items:
208-Unit Apartment Complex Concept Struck Down by Township
Apartment Complex in Limbo Despite Expert Analysis
Apartment Complex 'Not What Our Town Needs'
Kings Highway Apartment Complex Scrutinized by Officials, Residents

The development company brought forth traffic and market experts to support the complex’s proposal, but disagreements in the study’s car congestion and size of the proposed complex seemed to put a halt to the rezoning the land from industrial to residential.

Residents in the area took opportunities to voice their disapproval as well, coming out in dozens to tell the committee the site, formerly used by USR Optonix, should not be the location for an apartment complex.

The meeting on April 2 is open to the public and will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. with the intention of exploring other uses for the land. 

Guy Patterson April 08, 2014 at 12:52 PM
The township collects revenue via property taxes based on the assessed value of the site. Vacant or not, someone owns the land and is responsible for paying property taxes when they are due.
Maria April 08, 2014 at 04:35 PM
@Guy - TRUE!!!, which is why I don't feel the town should be so quick to appease a developer. First they should attempt to find an industry which provides jobs and ratables (where no variance is needed). Anyone know if ads have been put in industry realtor sites? If this and ALL other options have been exhausted (NJ Conservation Foundation, Green Acres, Parks... there may be a way to get federal/state money to keep the space open), THEN a variance may be necessary - BUT - only for enough residences to recoup the $172K in taxes (18 houses at 10K each for example). Minimizing the impacts to town resources, traffic, and resale value of area properties should be considered in the decision.
Chuck Ruff April 08, 2014 at 05:56 PM
Guy is correct, but property that has some sort of development on it (be it residential or business) is going to be assessed higher, and thus bring in more ratable for the town. Also, property that sits vacant too long becomes unviable, and is often then condemned. All proposals should be considered, but before anything is rejected because of traffic impact (or anything else), studies need to be conducted to determine if that impact is realistic. Area residents need to come to meetings with some reliable data to support their positions, otherwise these positions will be considered just opinion. Also, if you reject every single proposal brought forth, then you will be viewed simply as ‘NIMBYs’, and your views won’t be taken seriously. That’s what happened to the Briarwood Road residents, who came to meetings rejecting the proposed sports fields, without any real basis or alternative proposals. They lost, and the sports fields were built.
Maria April 21, 2014 at 09:20 AM
FYI...The next Kings Highway subcommittee meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday April 30 at 6:00 p.m. (Tracy Tobin had emailed me this info, and I appreciate that he was able to change the start time to 6pm.) Jason- it would be great if you could confirm and post this in the Patch. I like to include a link to the Patch article in the email I send out to all the petition signers. Thanks!
S. Jones April 22, 2014 at 09:20 AM
Thank you for keeping us informed Maria, and Jason please keep us updated on what is going on. Many of us missed the last meeting because of the time it was held. Not many people get home by 5:00.

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