It was a standing-room only crowd at the public hearing on Care One at Lawrence LLC’s proposed assisted living facility at the historic William Gulick House property drew a standing-room-only crowd at the Lawrence Township Zoning Board of Adjustment’s meeting.
More than 40 residents filled the meeting room on Jan. 18 as the developer’s project engineer Michael Thomas outlined minor tweaks to the site plan for the 170-bed assisted living facility.
Care One at Lawrence is seeking a use variance to build a 170-bed assisted living facility on the six-acre property at the corner of Route 206 and Province Line Road. A use variance is needed because it is not a permitted use in the Environmental Protection-1 residential zone.
The application calls for relocating the William Gulick House to a new lot that would be carved out of the six-acre lot. The house was built in the Italianate style in the 1850s by wealthy farmer William Gulick. He was a member of the Gulick family of Princeton.
Meanwhile, very little new testimony was presented at the Jan. 18 meeting. The applicant’s architect and other professionals are expected to testify at the future meetings on the application. The next meeting is Feb. 15.
At the meeting, Thomas outlined some of the changes to the plan made in response to comments at the Zoning Board’s Nov. 30, 2022 meeting.
Among the changes is a reduction in the number of parking spaces from 126 spaces to 100 spaces, Thomas said. The removal of 16 parking spaces will allow for more landscaping as a buffer between the proposed three-story, 113,391-square-foot building and the relocated William Gulick House.
Thomas said efforts will be made to preserve seven existing trees between the new building and the William Gulick House. But if it is determined that the trees are obstructing the move, they may need to be removed, he said.
Additional landscaping is planned for the property, Thomas said. Trees will be planted along the frontage of the property on Route 206 and on Province Line Road. They will serve as a buffer between the new building on the west side of Route 206 and the homes on the east side of the road, he said.
It will take about eight to 10 years for the trees to reach 15 feet in height, Thomas said. At their maturity, the trees will be 20 to 25 feet tall.
When the meeting was opened for public comment, Tomlyn Drive resident Richard Ordowich pointed to the history of the previous applications for an assisted living facility on the William Gulick House property, which morphed from building the facility around the historic house to tearing it down and now to moving it to the corner of Route 206 and Province Lind Road.
“The character of the organization (applicant) should be part of the review of the application,” Ordowich said. The applicant has “changed its tune” over the course of the series of applications, he said. There have been several applications since 1997.
Judy Hunt, who lives on Edgehill Avenue in the village of Lawrenceville, said she had admired the William Gulick House ever since she moved to Lawrence in 1980. The house has deteriorated over the past several years, she said.
“It is a sin. It is terrible to let this unique house to go to hell in a handbasket. I do hope for the future (that there is) a way to preserve it,” Hunt said.
Rick Miller, who lives on Carter Road, suggested that if something happens to the William Gulick House as it is being moved, the one-acre lot carved out for the house should remain. It should not become part of the larger, commercial entity, he said.
At the Nov. 30 public hearing, architect Max Hayden said the house has suffered some decay but it is still intact. Hayden, who has been involved in similar house relocation and restoration projects, said the house can be moved.