More meetings set for Shoppes at Middletown application

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By KAYLA J. MARSH
Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN – The Township Planning Board will continue to hear testimony on an application filed by Village 35 LP, of Purchase, N.Y. to build a 340,000 square-foot commercial development on land between Kanes Lane and Kings Highway East on Route 35.

Residents packed the room on June 1 at the meeting of the board that was held at  Town Hall. They were in attendance at the meeting that began at 6:30 p.m. in order to ask questions and voice opinions about the project, commonly known as “Shoppes at Middletown” or “Town Center.”

Following handling administrative matters and listening to testimony on another application, testimony on the “Shoppes at Middletown” application began shortly after 8 p.m.

A full roster of professionals, including engineers and site planners, were in attendance to provide testimony on the application, but by 10 p.m., only two had been heard.

“There’s no way in heck we’re going to hear all of the testimony on this application this evening, so there will not be a decision by the board on this application this evening,” Planning Board Chairman John Deus told the crowd of residents to a round of applause.

With no decision reached on the application before the meeting was adjourned shortly after 10 p.m., a special meeting of the Planning Board will be held June 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall for the sole purpose of continuing testimony on the project.

A final decision on the application should not be expected until August at the earliest, according to Deus.

Village 35 LP is seeking preliminary and final major subdivision and site plan approval.

The proposal for “Shoppes at Middletown” is to develop 340,000 square-feet of commercial space on about 52 acres of a 120-acre tract on Route 35 between Kings Highway and Kanes Lane.

The property sits diagonally across the highway from the municipal complex and is known for its “Calico the Clown” sign.

According to developer National Realty & Development Corp., the site is proposed to feature a specialty grocery store, upscale national retailers and restaurants, local boutique shops and a luxury cinema with a dine-in theater experience. The “Shoppes at Middletown” would also feature nearly 2,000 parking spaces.

“The applicant did obtain General Development Plan (GDP) approval from this board back in July of last year in connection with the property,” said Paul Phillips, managing principal at Phillips, Preiss and Grygiel.

“It’s located within your Planned Development (PD) zoning district and that GDP approval … basically allows, subject to conditions, which are set forth in the resolution of approval, up to 400,000 square-feet of retail, commercial use and up to 350 residential units, 20 percent of which would be set aside for low and moderate income households.”

Phillips said the GDP approval also provided for a 20-year vesting period, consistent with the provisions set forth in the municipal land use statute.

The development of the property, currently owned by local company Mountain Hill LLC, goes back more than a decade, and according to Phillips, a litigation settlement from 2009 allows the applicant to build as many as 540 residential units and 625,000 square-feet of commercial space.

“The GDP approval was for much less intense development than what the [zoning] allows,” he said. “Approval represents about 65 percent of the allowable commercial floor area in the zone and also about 65 percent of the allowable residential density.”

Deus reminded attendees that the application before the board is for the retail portion of the project only.

“This not a combined application,” he said, stating that shortly before the Memorial Day holiday last month, Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers filed a separate application to build approximately 350 residential units behind the proposed shopping center.

“The board’s going to have to make a decision on when that application is deemed complete and would otherwise be ready for a public hearing or hearings,” Board Attorney James Gorman said at the meeting. “At this time, it has only been one or two days that [the application] has been here and it hasn’t been reviewed and has not been deemed complete.

“[Village 35 LP’s] application took five months before it was deemed complete so that can happen to Toll Brothers as well.”