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Bordentown Township residents concerned about privacy as board approves apartments

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Bordentown Township residents voiced concern regarding privacy on their proprieties as the Planning Board considered site plans for the construction of affordable housing on Route 130.

Board members made a motion to approve and pass preliminary and final site plans for an apartment development on Route 130 between Crescent Drive and Highbridge Road at an Aug. 8 meeting.

The applicant, Team Campus Phase II, LLC, sought approval to construct 84 two-bedroom apartments in two four-story buildings. The plan includes 19 affordable housing units designated for seniors.

The development is planned in the township’s Age Restricted-Affordable Housing Zone after the Township Committee amended an ordinance to rezone the property in November 2018, which is now approved for residential development. The parcel was previously zoned for highway commercial use.

The approved development will contribute to the township’s requirement to comply with an affordable housing court-mandated settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center, Cherry Hill.

The Fair Share Housing Center advocates for the construction of affordable housing throughout New Jersey and Bordentown Township is one of about a dozen municipalities in Burlington County that reached a settlement with the group regarding its obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing.

A January 2017 ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court required municipalities to amend their affordable housing plans to meet the needs for a gap period between 1999 and 2015, when the state Council on Affordable Housing did not approve affordable housing quotas for each community.

Affordable housing is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and families whose income meets certain guidelines.

The Team Campus Phase II project is one of several affordable housing developments planned in the township that are in the process of seeking approval for site plans and/or approval from the zoning board and/or the planning board, or have already received approval.

Representatives of Team Campus Phase II presented their plans for the site at a July 11 meeting during which the application was heard for completeness by the board.

Although the original application that came before the board indicated the applicant planned to construct 92 units, the applicant reworked the plan and reduced the number of units to 84 after it was determined the building size and height could not accommodate a desirable living space within the units.

The applicant’s professionals said although the number of units was reduced, the site is still planned to include 19 affordable housing units.

Given the project site’s proximity to existing residential communities, several residents presented their concerns with and opinions about the site. Privacy was a main concern given the project’s plans for two four-story apartment buildings.

Gabriel McCabe, of Highbridge Road, said he was concerned the intimacy of his backyard would be compromised by the buildings. He said residents of the apartment buildings would be able to see his pool, which posed an issue for him and his family.

“It’s serious stuff, a four-story building,” McCabe said. “I have a swimming pool in my backyard. There are about four stories of balconies of people sitting out, looking straight into my backyard. I have three daughters … I’m thinking about taking out the pool because I certainly cannot have my daughters swimming with four stories of people staring down at them.”

Randy Hanuschik, of Highbridge Road, said the apartment buildings would “tower over” the community behind the site. He said municipal professionals should have considered that issue when the plans came before them.

“A four-story building with balconies is just ridiculous,” Hanuschik said. “It’s going to be life-changing … It’s a beautiful neighborhood and I know nobody else would want it in their backyard. (The residents) are going to be watching us. It’s going to be like we are entertainment to them.

“I know you are trying to make (affordable housing) go away and have it in one spot, and be done with because of the state’s mandate, but I’m upset. The height of this thing should have been more thought out,” he added.

Although residents expressed concern about the height of the apartment buildings, the board’s chairman, George Chidley, said legislation prevents the board from having particular control of the height of affordable housing structures.

The planners and the applicant’s attorney, Mark Roselli, agreed to work toward a solution that would provide neighboring residents with additional privacy.

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