Offices remain at center of traffic debate

Same developer
submits second plan under new name

Staff Writer

Same developer
submits second plan under new name


Staff Writer

In the name of quality-of-life preservation, one contingent of Menlo Park residents says there is no more room for commercial building on Route 27 — even if the area is zoned for the use.

As the fate of a contentious application before the Edison Planning Board to build two two-story office complexes on the major roadway hovers on hold, the same developer, under a different name, has submitted an application to build another similar structure nearby at the corner of Route 27 and Cedar Street, according to board officials.

That application, submitted under the name of Accurate Realty, LLC, Piscataway, is considered a plan that conforms with zoning and will be heard April 19.

"It was held until we see the outcome of the prior application," said Lillian Triola, board secretary. That was the edict at the March 15 Planning Board meeting.

For now, there will be no decision on that prior application by RUKH Enterprises, Piscataway (the same developer under a different name). The application was for the construction of two office buildings near Philip and Cedar streets.

RUKH is in court over a denial months ago by the Planning Board to grant permits for the construction of the complexes.

The township must wait for the outcome of that suit before proceeding with the other application, board officials said.

"The developer took the board to court because the application was denied when the board considered that road elevation work due to start in that area would have conflicted with the building," Triola added. "There was an issue of conflict with the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and that road work."

Because of the work slated to start in this summer, the DOT would have to acquire property in the area for the project. A letter from DOT representative Lynn Rich dated Dec. 8, 2003, said that purchase would make moot any future development prospects.

"Due to the consideration of the road elevation and the impact on existing properties, a determination has been made that the NJDOT will be required to purchase all of the properties," the letter from Rich read.

But before the DOT purchased the properties, the township denied the application by RUKH and RUKH took the township to court. That pleased the residents because the plans to construct the first project were halted.

However, the prospect of another office building at the hands of the same developer does not sit well with the residents. They are still riled and do not want any part of any added development in the vicinity of an already congested roadway abutting a residential area.

Resident Kenneth Gaylin prepared a statement for the record, which was several pages long, on behalf of the group.

The office buildings would destroy the quality of life that the township’s master plan is designed to protect, according to the residents.

Gaylin’s prepared statement said, "In the Existing Land Use section of the Edison Master Plan, one of the stated intents is to protect the character of the existing stable communities.

"Additionally, in the Future Land Use Plan one of the central objectives is to reduce the rate at which our forest open spaces are being lost to development The residents firmly believe that the planned construction conflicts with the stated goals of the master plan and destroys the character of the community."

The buildings would also make an existing traffic problem a traffic nightmare on Route 27 and the area, Gaylin’s statement said.

"The additional vehicular traffic created by the access to and from these buildings will not only cause a problem for the local residents, but anyone traversing Route 27 near Wood Avenue," Gaylin said.

The elimination of trees and hills as barriers to the sound emitted by the traffic flow would also create a major disturbance, he added.

Unsightly views of graded lots and chain link fences could harm property values in the area as well, he said.

"These property owners will no longer have the tranquil view of a forested lot, but rather a view of a chain link fence, a parking lot filled with cars, the side (or perhaps roof) of a commercial building, Route 27, car traffic, passing trains, train tracks and power lines," Gaylin’s statement read. "It is not known whether the applicants of the new buildings will have a direct view of back yards or bedroom windows."

Regardless of the judicial outcome of the developer’s suit against the township, this contingent of residents plans to continue to voice pleas against devel­opment near their homes.

If that cannot be accomplished, ac­cording to the group, then it requests "that the board not approve the applica­tion until such time that we may take an active role in the planning process to derive a solution that will mitigate the negative impact to the local com­munity.

"At a minimum, our safety concerns must be completely addressed. In in­stances where the applicant is not in compliance with zoning or building codes, we request that they be rigorously enforced when they are in the best in­terests of the local community," Gaylin said.