Monroe Township Zoning Board: Control Condo, Townhouses and Commercial Development
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Monroe Township Zoning Board
CC: Mayor Richard Pucci
We are writing to express our strong objections to the variances sought by The Gables @ Applegarth Village LLC for Lot 12.27, Block 15. The variances asked for include addition of 97 townhomes and 25 condomonium units. We have the following concerns:
- The proposed plan will further skew uneven spread of population density towards the Applegarth side of Monroe. The Applegarth side already hosts moderate density housing such as the ones in Stratford and Monroe Manor. Additionally, the township has approved a plan to add a Wawa gas station, McDonald’s and 127 townhouses and 20 condos as part of the Gateway proposal, which is less than a mile away from said site. Uneven development of Monroe is bad planning and this will lead to severe stress on the already full Elementary schools and add more traffic to the heavily used Applegarth road.
- Federal Road is a narrow road with no shoulder space and woods on both sides. Similarly, Applegarth Road is narrow and without shoulder space between Rt 33 and Federal Road. Applegarth Road is already used by Buses and Trucks. Addition of another high density community and commercial properties will result in dangerous traffic conditions on both roads and there will be little scope for future expansion.
- The Oak Tree and Applegarth elementary schools are operating at full capacity. Education is the single most important thing for families with kids. Inspite of high tax rates, the quality of the schools is still not at the same level as schools in neighboring townships. These changes will further stress the school system and inevitably deteriorate quality of our schools. With the uncontrolled development of the Applegarth road area, it is not clear if there is even any space left to build a new school.
- High density residential additions will further depress property prices in Monroe, which haven’t kept as well as that of nearby townships like West Windsor. House owners of existing residential developments such as Southfield Estates have invested in the area after repeated assurances from township zoning officials that there will be no commercial or high density residential zones nearby. Furthermore, this proposal violates a clause in every house owners closing contract that the said lot will be used for a light neighborhood shopping development.
- Monroe township residents have been slammed with a significant tax hike of 12% in one year which defies all known limits of tax hike in a year. This year’s tax hike puts us in about the same range as that of West Windsor and Montgomery townships. Over the last 20 years, these townships have maintained their low density housing and limited new development. This has helped them maintain top schools and keep property prices high. We believe that by paying substantially high taxes, we have earned the right to preserve the beautiful open nature of our township. The proposed plan is a threat to this idea.
- The proposed plan’s architectural elements do not comply with the overall theme of surrounding construction. The plan will involve multi-story buildings with very large footprint unlike surrounding areas that either have a single story architecture or have well spaced single family or ranch houses.
- Monroe township is known for it’s open spaces and low density upscale housing and adult communities. The proposed plan severely dents the fiber of our beloved township by cramping townhouses, condos and commercial elements into a small parcel of land that was originally zoned for low density housing and later changed to neighborhood shopping. In fact, most residents have moved to Monroe from other towns because of similar developments. Residents of Monroe expect peace and quiet enjoyment, and this is the very reason they have chosen to make Monroe their home.
Considering the future development plans in the area, many by the same builder, and the fact that the Applegarth Road side of Monroe is experiencing much more development than other parts of Monroe, we believe a good and responsible action by the board will be to decline this proposal. Although we understand the builder’s current situation, it is our collective responsibility to shape our town and make it one of the best towns in New Jersey, and perhaps the entire nation. We ask the township zoning board to reject the new plan and ask the builder to come up with alternative proposals involving low density light commercial development or a low density residential plan.
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