By Rebecca Hersh
EDISON – Expanding just in the past few weeks from 350 to more than 500 residents, the Just Say No to the Charlie Brown’s Site Redevelopment Plan advocacy group was relieved – but not jubilant or complacent – over the news that the Edison Zoning Board postponed the July 27 hearing for the Markim Developers proposal to build 23 townhouses on the Plainfield Road site that formerly housed a Charlie Brown’s restaurant.
Reportedly, the delay was at the request of the applicant, and no date for rescheduling the hearing on the applicant’s proposal was given.
But according to social media posts, the hundreds of residents intend to maintain their vigilance and make as much noise as possible to fight the proposal. The project seeks to demolish the restaurant and then build three-bedroom townhouses on the two-acre site.
The developers are seeking preliminary and final site plan approval from the Zoning Board, along with several use and bulk variances to build the homes on a property zoned for golf course and in a neighborhood featuring single-family homes.
Residents living along Plainfield Road Edgewood Road, and Woodrow Wilson Drive are the ones engaged in a “24/7 battle,” in the words of one resident at a recent rally.
The “Just Say No” movement only started organizing in mid-June. The residents’ objections include: what they see as too much density and intensity of development for a site of that size in a single-family home neighborhood; claims of dangerously increased traffic volume in the vicinity of schools; and potentially increased school enrollment in what they consider to be already overcrowded schools.
On July 21, residents gathered outside the site of the former Charlie Brown’s restaurant to protest the plan. More than 100 residents attended the demonstration, despite the ominous weather forecast.
In a July 2 social media post, resident Gail Lamoreaux summarized the situation as follows:
“As are many Edison residents, I am very concerned about and object to the proposed development on the former Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse site located at 222 Plainfield Road.
“The proposed 23 townhouses do not conform to the property or the community. The plan is against Edison’s Master Plan and zoning codes, and requires numerous variances as proof.
“The only person who will benefit from this injustice is the developer and my fear is children are being put in danger for his profits.
“The parcel is only 2 acres and is located in close proximity to two township public schools, Woodbrook Elementary School and Woodrow Wilson Middle School. Children travel by foot and bicycle twice daily past the property to and from school …
“The proposed development will inevitably cause more traffic and accidents and risk neighbors’ privacy …
“These homeowners (in the neighborhood) purchased their homes with the knowledge this property was zoned for a golf course and shouldn’t be cheated,” she wrote.