Proposed Independence Development - 517
I just got a certified letter from an attorney looking to develope the land on 517 just north of the quickcjeck (922-930 rt 517). I will be attending the meeting to voice my displeasure with the proposition of 120 new residential dwellings 12 of which will be low income housing. When I bought my house I was told the area they are planning to develope was wetlands. Not sure if that was something just said by my realtor to sell me a house. I hope others on the road will join me. May 15 7:30 pm at the independence town hall.
It's aged restricted coah housing
"It's aged restricted coah housing" That's right --- hit 65 and off with your head!!!!
Used to horseback ride there, guess that means the farm is gone......
I really do like that quickchek though.
Be aware: Liberty House Apartments started out as low income housing for senior citizens only. Now it is not.
I do not want any more low income housing here. It deflates our property values.
Really? Well I'm not concerned if our limited open space is for low income or the rich. That is beside the point. My concern is preservation for wildlife and our ecosystem = a better life for us.
It's really getting out of hand..very worrisome at this point.
positive, good point. And let's not forget that extra property tax is paid to preserve land. Was this property ever considered?
I think they got sued and won...Because its served by public water and sewers
There is some pretty good info in this link..
i doubt the land use board gives a damn about the ecosystem. It's simply more tax revenue. More, more, more! They machine is never satisfied until every tree and nut is substituted with concrete. Well, that is until a developer wants t place 120 dwellings next to THEIR homes.
Another thing: the company is called woodmont independence urban renewal. Urban? Renewal? Definitely not what I signed up for.
Why doesn't independence build/approve something actually well into "Independence"? Everything they approve is within a half mile or closer to the hackettstown border! Plenty of land off of 46 in independence but they stick everything on 517 or bilby road!
Because that's where the water and sewer service is
That's what Mt. Olive and Washington Township seem to do also stuff everything close to the Htown border!
And Mansfield Twp!
"That's what Mt. Olive and Washington Township seem to do also stuff everything close to the Htown border!"
No, they're building this in this spot because it's close to 517, 80 and Hackettstown. When will the urban sprawl stop?
Is anyone considering the burden it will put on the school district? Especially considering what is going on with the dual superintendent proposing moving students from Hackettstown to Great Meadows. If there are 120 homes built, there could potentially be 240 more children to be educated. The taxes generated from these homes will not be beneficial to Independence financially. And I also thought this was considered to be part of the wetlands.
Because it's aged restricted housing
Bug3, all of them? I thought there was a portion that would be low income and the rest were for anyone. Are children not allowed?
Here is the town ordinance that was passed at the end of the year to green light this project.
The Township Committee said it is in the best interest of the Town, how so?
Also, no Exhibit A attached to the document that states the form of Financial Agreement the town is supposed to receive in-lieu of taxes.
WHEREAS, as part of its Application for tax exemption, the Redeveloper submitted a form of
Financial Agreement (" Financial Agreement") providing for payments in lieu of taxes, a copy of
which is attached to this Resolution as Exhibit "A" which includes exhibits and schedules attached
to the Financial Agreement; and
Who will be attending the meeting? I will be there
Is the meeting still scheduled for Monday night? I called the town hall twice and no one answered.
Ok I called again today and spoke to the clerk. The meeting is still on for tonight at 7:30pm. I'm interested in finding out how this will benefit the residents of independence.
12 low income units= the potential for additional students marginal.
I believe this density requires both public water AND sewer,
Not sure that this additional capacity is available from the existing infrastructure .
The land use board has no clue how to run a meeting like that. There were FOURTEEN members. Typically a planning board consists of about 4-6.
They let the developer talk for 90 minutes (7:30-9:00) about how great his properties where before opening the floor to the audience for questions, at which time the audience began to chastise the board for allowing this "monstrosity" to be built. After a half hour of the board reminding people that this time was for questions and we would be able to speak our minds AFTER all the testimony, we were now 2 hours in. At 9:30, after an approximately 85 year old member asked "wait, how many acres is this on?" (What?? More time wasted with ridiculous questions? YOURE ON THE DAMN BOARD WITH A SITE PLAN IN FRONT OF YOU..I digress) the chairman suggested we take a break to stretch our legs as the engineer, architect and traffic study guy still had to "testify." So, after 2 hours I left. I never got a chance to voice my opinion because I was following the rules and didn't have any direct, pointed questions for the developer. Anyone fill in what happened after?
sound like this was your first ever Land Use Meeting. Also sounds like the board followed the correct process.
Frist there are 9 member on the Land Use Board I have never seen a planning/zoning/land use board with 4-6 members. Typically there are 7 or 9 and you need at least 5 at a meeting to make a quorum. Boards are made up of odd numbers to avoid tie votes:
There are 4 Alternates so maybe they were there too?
As for the process of the meetings, think of these as trials.. There is an opening statement by the applicant, followed by testimony and then a closing argument. Its the same process for every applicant
The applicant gets to present their opening statement on why they are before the board, then they bring in a expert (usually architect or engineer) to show the site plan and go over the details. The board is allowed to ask questions during the testimony. Once the testimony of that expert is over and the board has no further questions for that witness the board opens it up to the public to ask the witness questions.
Then the process is repeated with any additional experts the applicant would like to call up. After ALL testimony is given the applicant makes a closing argument and then the public is allowed time to give their opinion of the plan. This way everyone has seen the "facts of the case" and gives opinions based on fact rather than just NIMBY. Plans of this size usually take multiple meetings.
Then the board votes.
You should have stayed to hear the other testimony, perhaps you would have heard something that would have trigger a question or perhaps one of your concerns would have been addressed. good news is I'm sure there was no vote at that meeting so please attend the next one. Once all testimony is given you will be allowed to voice your opinion of the site.
Jim, there were 14 people sitting behind the large horseshoe-shaped desk. The developer even remarked "jeez I've never been so outnumbered by a planning board before."
This meeting was a joke. Should have stayed for the whole thing? I budgeted 2 hours. The meeting was only half done at that time. Absolute joke.
Isn't there all ready a large townhome development on that road?..
Again there is only 9 people on the Independence Planning Board. Other people that are there are the clerk, town attorney, town engineer and town planner
So you expected a meeting to decide a site that big to only last 2 hours?
jim - how about making the meetings, heck, all of the town council meetings, live stream? the technology has been around for a couple years now. seeing what's going on would be easy. a little more difficult but doable would be to allow for online comments and questions to be sent in. that would make everything more transparent.
Jim, are you on the board? Were you at the meeting?
well actually I am on the Hackettstown Planning board so I kind of know what I am talking about. And No I wasn't at the meeting but based on your recap of the events I can tell you they followed the proper procedures.
again as stated on your town website there are only 9 land use board members. There are 4 alternates.
All planning board's have to follow the same procedure for each and every applicant. I get that you are not in favor of this project but that does not mean the board doesn't know what they were doing or should break the proper procedures so that you can voice your opinion in the time window you budgeted.
Let me know if you need any help understanding the process for when you go to the next meeting
ken while I have seen some towns that have live streaming I have not seen any that have online comments or questions capability . I'm all for more involvement from the residents. We moved up the meeting from 7:30 to 7pm to see if that might help get people to come to the meetings but so far it hasn't.
streaming....I'm still waiting for them to take credit cards for the taxes. Yugest bill I've got and I have to write a check....pls --- something electronic....save a tree.
Or maybe posting minutes on line within 6 months after the actual meeting....
Or put the tape/recording online so we could at least listen.....
"In the year, twenty oh seventeen, paper's been deemed hasbeeen...."
BTW when you say "Typically a planning board consists of about 4-6. " that is not accurate:
ARTICLE 2. MUNICIPAL PLANNING BOARD
40:55D-23 Planning board membership. 14.Planning board membership. a. The governing body may, by ordinance, create a planning board of seven or nine members.
If anyone is interested, that area was an old dump site for town. My friend dug there a few times, found a few hackettsown dairy bottle. That whole area was a farm (what wasn't). You can find old privy holes along the treelike and what was the compact warehouse. Don't ask me for more details as my friend is no longer with us.
Any updates on this?
Any update on this planned monstrosity? I remeber the developer saying "we are not your typical builder. When we start a project we won't run out of money and leave the half built buildings abandoned."
I recently hear the builder ran into financial problems but that info was from a less-than-reliable source.
Well, they are back at it again. Just got a certified letter. I thought this was dead and buried but apparently it has new life. Anyone else get a letter? What can we do to stop this? Do our voices even matter?
I mean, would it do any good to pool money together to hire legal representation? I know this only affects the residents who live adjacent to the monstrosity but even still, there should be enough of us. My taxes are over $11,000/year for one acre. I refuse to pay that and be forced to look at this site.
to give you an example Consiglier, Allamuchy residents pooled together and hired an attorney for the proposed rehab facility. They also attended every meeting in full force. They created a facebook page and a online petition. They were very vocal in their opposition and made sure there was a large attendence at every meeting.
Thanks Jim. Hopefully my neighbors will be on the same page. If not, I may end up moving :/
Hmmmm. Assessed at 3.4 property tax rate, about $380k. Only an acre. Lives in view of 517 development. Nah, you’re not selling that.
Bear in mind the PV development and that industry depended a lot on ObamaCare coverage to drive their business case. That might have harshed the developer’s mellow about the project as the recent ocare attacks have had the expected result
So, hiring lawyers might be a good idea, better than going alone, but I would check references and success rates carefully. It’s not like legal representation has skin in the game.
Can a moderator change the name of the thread? I think it would get more views and responses.
here is some more information on the owners of the land:
They are a big time developers so i would recommend residents come prepared and united if they are truely against this project.
Thank you Jim!
The certified letter I got today has instructions to (if you want to) mail a letter to the NJ wetlands commission detailing the reasons why they shouldn’t build. Apparently there are wetlands there.
First I need to have more people care about this.
It's vacant land on a busy county road, adjacent to a big arse development and a gas station. Where else would something like this get built.
MaJa, the thing is, it doesn’t benefit the people of independence one bit while making the roads more crowded, schools more crowded and building on top of protected (well I guess now it’s un-protected) wetlands. Do you think our taxes will go down since they’ll have ALOT more revenue coming in? Will they provide more services to the people of the town with that new revenue? The answer both of those questions is NO. Id be just as against this even if I didn’t live across the street.
How is a over 55 development going to make the schools more crowded?....infact Independence just closed a school because they do not have enough students....the empty stores in the area could use more customers
I thought it was age-restricted (55+)?
These types of developments are considered very attractive as they bring in quite a bit of property taxes but don't have impacts on the school systems (and they can be made to be private, with an HOA being responsible for maintenance of all the roads in the development, so there isn't even road maintenance and snow plowing expenses to worry about).
They are not 55+. I was at the meeting in 2017 and the developer said these were luxury apartments (granite counter tops/SS appliances, etc) and a one bedroom was $1800 (maybe it was $1600). 100% not for seniors.
and you cannot tell people they cannot have children......yep, schools will be looking for more monies, also more police , fire , etc..
So much for 'wetland'. I'm sure the state made alotta people firesale land once it was made unsellable to builders... So to keep money going i guess they will ease what is wetland and what is not.
The land may be wetlands but it does not show up on the National Wetlands Inventory mapper:
Interesting about it not being listed on the wetlands map.
And again, it’s not 55+. These will be 3 story luxury apartment buildings
You could use wetlands or isn’t it really hilly there, doesn’t that do something? Because if it’s really 55+ and it’s that location; I think you have a tough row to hoe.
I am not for high density moderately priced housing; I think we have enough. No matter what age the occupants, if they have money to spend, so much the better for our community. But if it has to be high density, 55+ has the least amount of impact while adding further diversity to our neighborhood. Although if they start hanging at the quikchek, with their big cars, blue hair, and funky clothes — that could be a nuisance ;-) I’ll have to find a new spot :-)
It’s not 55+.
At the meeting the developer said they were targeting young, high-earning single people who wouldn’t mind driving a bit further on 80 to their jobs. Also said they were luxury apts
"the developer said they were targeting young, high-earning single people who wouldn’t mind driving a bit further on 80 to their jobs. Also said they were luxury apts"
Trader Joe's, here we come (-;
This area has nothing to offer young singles.
Why would anyone move further down Rt 80 west and travel east to work. Rt 80 is a commuting nightmare!
Well, if that’s the case, only weekend and commuting traffic will be higher! Restaurants and brew pubs more crowded. And they will spend more money in town. Think only positive effect to my home’s value.
Sorry but more offended by the 100+ non-luxury apartments shoved in behind CVS. Or the QC oasis at five corners traffic debacle.
This one is harder to hate for me, bring on Whole Foods, Trader Joes and two buck chuck.
I hear you SD. All good points. I can’t help but think you’re opinion would be different if it was directly across from your house. Seeing woods out of the window for years then having that view changed to 3 story apt buildings. When we bought this house we were told no one could ever build there because of the wetlands. Not taking the realtor’s word at face value, I did my due diligence, checked with the town and was told the same thing: can’t build there=wetlands. Looks like all it took was a developer’s “donation” to the town and all of a sudden those wetlands ain’t so wet anymore.
Granite countertops equate to luxury LOL. Woodmont builds a lot of properties so good luck fighting them, they have deep pockets.
You are absolutely correct and living in the country that's always a risk. That, and right of way issues..... That, right of way issues, and septic.... That, right of way issues, septic, and fixing the power.... And don't forget those ever-encroaching neighbors.....
And you are right that IF it's one of those proud Mary buildings that sticks up the sky like a raised second finger visible to you, or across the entire valley, as is their way, that is bad for anyone in eyesight. Like the Mt. Olive scar on Schooleys.
But I think the M&M's distribution point with all those trucks is probably the nobler fight. In any event, best luck and I support your efforts, but don't think you will see me at the meeting. If it is indeed Indy, that's a debacle too. Just look at who's on the board: http://independencenj.com/land-use-board/ I am sorry, but these people are a planning joke, homeowners nightmare, and basically will get run over by a savvy developer. I used to attend meetings instead of watching sitcoms that night..... I watched people do a tap dance on their heads, and they didn't even live here.... But now you have the telno's, start dialing.
Get a group, get a lawyer, check those wetlands ---- you can't wiggle out of that, I believe that's State, not local. You need a team for sure. Here's your maps: https://www.google.com/search?q=independence+nj+wetlands+map&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=uKbuZaTdK3DYbM%253A%252CFVftFScGzWUTIM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kRdCQarosS09VkTAq9ynYZRvkyksw&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiHkaPG3KDlAhVPU98KHfySAPAQ9QEwAHoECAkQBg#imgrc=iLhaA6iY_bOGkM:&vet=1 Also, as indicated earlier, check the slope. I thought slope-building had a whole new set of requirements, at least you might force x-amount of open space in the deal.
And finally, check that zoning. Not quite sure but you're either R-1, medium density, or B -- business. Think either might provide benefit to your efforts. https://www.google.com/search?q=independence+nj+wetlands+map&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=uKbuZaTdK3DYbM%253A%252CFVftFScGzWUTIM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kRdCQarosS09VkTAq9ynYZRvkyksw&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiHkaPG3KDlAhVPU98KHfySAPAQ9QEwAHoECAkQBg#imgrc=iLhaA6iY_bOGkM:&vet=1 Remember, it's the variances that kill you, or the project.
Here's Indy's zoning regulations. Indy used to have a great tree hugger on the board I think. The environmental regs may be stronger than expected because of that. Think you will find your avenue of approach. Let us know the zone and we can take a look. Here they are: https://ecode360.com/10271380 Zoning will be your key I believe.
Lastly, find Darrin on this board. He is very good at the ways of the Land Use Boards. A great asset no doubt.
Hope that helps, best luck.
Thanks, SD. Some really helpful info there.
According to current NJDEP mapping, there aren't any wetlands on the site... but that could just mean that no one has had an LOI done on the property yet. Their database for wetlands mapping consists of areas of hydric soils per Soil Conservation Service mapping and properties that have had wetlands delineations done as part of development applications.
Iamimal, along with the certified letter they sent a map of the site with the wetland area marked. Let’s see if I can figure out how to post a pic...
Looks like it’s right behind QC.
Yeah, I did a little more digging... they had wetlands delineations verified on that site 3 times since 2004, with the most recent being 2016.
Interestingly, NJDEP issued an LOI in December of 2014, to which the applicant filed an appeal in February of 2015. He must have won the appeal because NJDEP then issued a modified LOI in November of 2016.
That tiny pocket of wetlands isn't going to hinder development in the least. It's isolated, and well under an acre. If he wanted to, he could get a GP-6 and just fill it in, but he could easily work around it as well.
At most, it will have a 50' transition area buffer if it was deemed to have "intermediate" resource value; if it was determined to be "ordinary", then it won't have any buffer at all. I don't see any way that it would have been classified as "exceptional", which would require a 150' buffer.
There will be plenty of room for him to get a driveway past that area and develop the rear of the site.
Pretty sure it’s zoned R1; single family or farm. Gonna need a rezone for multi-family. Jim L can probably speak to this type of variance.
Sorry, link didn't stick.
For zoning regs, try: https://ecode360.com/10271076
And it was Frank somebody or other who was the environmentalist.
Now, I think Mansfield is the place for township entertainment :>) I am loving it.
There was a "Redevelopment Plan" approved for the property back in 2016 or so. That will determine what can be built on the property and would need to be modified if the current proposal differs from what was approved back then.
Here is the letter they sent:
Letters of Interpretation for freshwater wetlands are issued for a period of 5 years with the ability to be granted an "extension" for an additional 5 years from the date of original issuance. That letter indicates that they are applying for their five year extension, which makes sense, since the most recent LOI was issued in December 2014 (and modiifed in 2016, but I guess they still toll back to the original approval date).
If that's all this is, it might mean that they are just keeping their options open. This is all you received? No notice that they were appearing before the Township Planning Board? If so, then it might be a complete nothingburger.
Chairman Fernandez made the motion to approve the application, conditioned upon:
seconded by Mr. Ulmer. Roll call vote:
Ayes: Mrs. Walter, Mr. Feula, Mr. Kelsey, Mr. Fernandez, Mr. Cullen,
Ms. Carvino, Mr. Cougle, Mr. Engels, and Mr. Ulmer.
Nays: None recorded
Abstain: Mr. Best and Ms. Milano, who are not eligible to vote on this matter.
After reading the minutes from the 2017 meetings, sorry Consigliere but this project was approved by the planning board at the 8/21/17 meeting. Looks like they had a total of 4 meetings from May '17 - Aug '17. But the site plan was approved, they will be building it eventually.
Just questioning the location...this is pretty much right next to the quick check on 517 North correct?
I see...Cars stopping on the 'hill' of 517 to turn in and out of said development would result in many car accidents...
I agree with Ianimal. That letter appears to be a request for an extension of the LOI that was issued prior. To keep their options open, in the event they decide to move ahead at some future date. Doesn't really put your mind at ease.
I would suggest though, if they received approval of a site plan by the Independence Planning Board, there should be a time limit on how long that approval is good for (terrible sentence structure, I know). You could look into that. They may be just getting things done in order to prepare for getting an extension of time on that site plan approval with the Township.
Site plans are good for 2 years. After that the town can technically rezone the property and the applicant would have to come back for an extension
Yes, ianimal. That’s all I got. From what JimL says, there’s nothing that can be done at this point. I figured since 30 months passed since the meeting I attended this sucker was dead. Guess not. Thanks for all the replies, everyone!
If this was the Poconos you would have a truck stop there! So, it can always be worse. A Wawa would be worse.
I was thinking/wondering last night. Any past development(s) that needed water/sewer service always relied on HMUA for that purpose. But didn't HMUA make it known that they will not take on any more connections to their service a few years ago?
No they did not
Again, I’m not sure they have the capacity for this development.
One died ( development) off of Petersburg just before the Highlands Act came into effect for that reason.
I’m unaware of any increases in capacity by HMUA.
Stymie, with all the time and money already put toward this project, I’m sure they would have made a call to the water dept prior to spending all that money and time on it so far. Obviously I hope you’re correct but I can’t imagine a scenario where they wouldn’t have checked this first.
OR—-betting that HMUA will eventually increase capacity and taking their place on line?
Easy to find out.
I guess money talks...
2 weeks ago
It's very Sad to view what's been destroyed at that site; the big trees, etc., and possibly a habitat for some animals. I feel badly for the people who will directly back the new development. There are trees standing between them and the development, but they are slim and look to be easily seen through with a view of the machinery and mess of downed trees and shrubbery and an eventual view to the development itself. This is from my observation as I go by that area fairly often.
I totally agree, Mrs. Pipes. It must be horribly noisy and dirty - and traffic will become worse than ever.....Damn shame.
Checked out Woodmont Properties LLC. Quite the big company. They don't really list what they are building on that property, even though they have a NEWS page at
I don't see anything on the Warren County website either.
The details are here
1 week ago
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