Lawrence Township residents will have a chance to comment on RPM Development LLC’s proposed affordable housing development on Texas Avenue, adjacent to the Lawrence Shopping Center, at the Lawrence Township Zoning Board of Adjustment’s March 10 meeting.
The zoning board agreed to hold the March 10 special meeting on the application after its online platform was overwhelmed by the number of people who tried to sign on at its Feb. 17 meeting. The platform that the zoning board used could not accommodate the 100-plus residents who wanted to view the public hearing on RMP Development LLC’s application.
The Lawrence Township Zoning Board of Adjustment is switching to the Zoom online conference platform for the March 10 meeting. Instructions on how to access it are available on the zoning board’s agenda.
RPM Development LLC has proposed a 70-unit affordable housing development on a 4.3-acre parcel on Texas Avenue. Of the 70 units, one would be set aside for the onsite building superintendent.
RPM Development LLC needs a use variance because duplex and multi-family housing developments are not permitted in the Highway Commercial and Residential-4 zones.
Most of the parcel is zoned Highway Commercial, but there is a sliver of land that is zoned R-4. The density of development, at 17.9 units per acre, also exceeds the maximum of 10 units per acre in the R-4 zone.
Despite ending the Feb. 17 meeting earlier than expected, RPM Development LLC’s representatives presented additional testimony. A short video clip that provided a virtual tour of the proposed development was aired for the zoning board and meeting attendees by the applicant.
Thomas Muller, the applicant’s engineer, provided photographs of a bucket truck that had raised its bucket to the height of the proposed three-story apartment buildings. The photographs showed that the three buildings would be screened from view by trees in a wooded area at the end of Harding Avenue, which is near the Lawrence Shopping Center.
The trio of three-story apartment buildings would be 39 feet tall, which exceeds the 35-foot maximum height limit. Zoning board member Peter Kremer had suggested a “balloon” test, in which a balloon or similar object would be suspended at 39 feet to offer a clearer visual representation.
In addition to the three-story apartment buildings, the proposed development calls for six duplex units on Texas Avenue that would resemble single-family houses. All of the units would be affordable to low- and moderate-income households.
The affordable housing development would help Lawrence Township to meet its obligation to provide affordable housing. The township was sued by the Fair Share Housing Center – along with other New Jersey towns – for failing to provide its fair share of affordable housing.