Hopewell Township Planning Board approves Woodmont property for construction

New plaque at 9/11 memorial in Hopewell Township.

The Woodmont at Hopewell residential development received the final stamp of approval when members of the Hopewell Township Planning Board passed a resolution finalizing the terms of the approved application.

Board members passed the resolution following a final objection from Edward Bernstein, who requested a rehearing of the application due to the potential increased traffic at the intersection of Bull Run Road and Federal City Road; and an inconvenience for local property owners around the development with the building of the Woodmont property.

Board members unanimously denied the request for a rehearing of the application and unanimously approved the resolution at their Nov. 21 meeting.

Board members said the applicant (Woodmont) is not responsible for the existing level of traffic and does not sufficiently exacerbate the issues.

Attorney Thomas Carroll, who represented Woodmont, said the objector submitted documents and correspondence after the final public hearing on the application was held in September. He said the items should be disregarded.

“We received correspondence and documents from an attorney for a proposed objector. That objector was present at the last public hearing in September, presented no evidence or testimony and instead requested that the matter be carried and that was the last we heard of it,” Carroll said. “We received (the documents) two months after the board had closed the public hearing on this matter.”

He said the objector’s traffic issues and traffic light issues should be brought to the Township Committee to be addressed.

Attorney James Manahan represented Bernstein before the board. He said the correspondence and documents raised an important issue.

“We believe this is a public safety issue with traffic problems at the intersection of Bull Run and Federal City Road. We believe there is not an undue burden on the applicant if the board were to consider our request on the matter and proceed to resolution and that a future hearing be scheduled so (our client) can present the necessary rebuttal,” Manahan said.

He requested that the board entertain the objector’s request because of the safety issues, the application’s potential impact on property owners and its impact on his client as an objector to the development.

“It is not part of this application, was not part of this application, and shouldn’t be considered as a part of this application,” Carroll said in response to Manahan. “The board has before it a resolution memorializing the terms of the approval the board granted. We would ask that resolution be adopted.”

Board members said there were discussions at the Township Committee about the traffic issues at Bull Run and Federal City Road. They said committee members are continuing discussions and have made commitments to further investigate traffic solutions at the intersection with surrounding townships.

The Woodmont project will construct 300 housing units, which will include 48 affordable housing units on the 22-acre property. There will be 194 two-bedroom, 96 one-bedroom and 10 three-bedroom units in nine buildings. A clubhouse, pool and maintenance building will also be constructed.

There are currently several buildings, a communication tower and parking areas on the property.

The board’s decision to approve the project came at a Sept. 26 meeting – the third meeting on the project – during which representatives of Woodmont Properties presented their findings on a noise study that was conducted.

On behalf of Woodmont, sound engineer Randall Barranger conducted a noise analysis on the site at various locations.

“This was done during night time hours on Aug. 12. I recorded measurements adjacent to Interstate 295 (I-295), west of the site, center of the site and south of the site,” Barranger said. “In total, it was five measurement locations. I wanted to get a conservative estimate. Primary sources of noise were traffic on Interstate 295 with the upper range of those measurements being trucks on Interstate 295.”

Representatives for Woodmont said there would be a relocation of a playground that was proposed on the site that was scheduled to be built closer to I-295.

“This is a site that is part of a court-ordered fair share housing plan for Hopewell Township,” Carroll said.

The development’s 48 affordable housing units fall into Hopewell’s obligation that was settled in 2017. Hopewell settled a lawsuit regarding affordable housing, which allows as many as 3,000 new housing units, including 653 rental apartments, to be set aside for low- and moderate-income households. Officials have said those units are on the horizon for Hopewell through 2025.

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