No High-Density, High-Rise Buildings in Single Family Residential Zones of Highland Park
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Buck Woods is a Single Family Residential (SFR) zone. Despite this zoning, the township is planning to do a "zoning overlay" so that a 75-unit, 4 ½ story (3 ½ story dwelling + ground floor parking) apartment/condo complex may be built.
Such an intensely dense development will stand in stark contrast to the adjacent neighborhoods on South 5th and 7th Avenues, which have a housing density of only ten units per equivalent tract of land. Thus, this building complex will invariably stick out like the proverbial sore thumb-- disrupting the quiet, the privacy, and other SFR characteristics of the neighborhood and negatively affect the property values of the houses in the area.
A whole host of other potential problems may also emerge from this high-density housing on a dead-end street, including traffic, public safety, and other quality-of-life issues.
We are not asking the development be stopped. But we do ask that, in its planning, the Planning Board, Zoning Board, the Mayor, and the Borough Council do:
1. Take into account the existing SFR zoning status and
2. Plan in a way that enhances, instead of destroys, the character of the neighborhood and property values of adjacent homes.
Specifically, we request the development be built with a maximum height of 3 ½ stories (2 1/2 dwellings + ground floor parking), which would be more in keeping with the current SFR zoning status. In addition, there are also other measures that can be taken to protect the character and property values of the neighborhood, including but not limited to, requiring the new homes to have no less than two bedrooms, reducing the housing density (especially if traffic and parking become an issue), having a significant buffer of evergreens to mitigate the loss of privacy, and establishing a long term plan to monitor, prevent, and address any erosion problem that may impact existing houses along the ravine.
As homeowners, we are significant taxpayers in Highland Park. Our home is our biggest investment, and a healthy property tax base is essential for the operations of the borough schools and government. Any new ordinance that overturns existing zoning without considering its impact on the character and property values of the affected neighborhoods erodes the public trust in local zoning laws and governance, drives away potential home buyers, and is therefore detrimental to the long term interest of Highland Park.
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