Board’s decision is incompatible with stated objectives

I attended the June 24 meeting in Marlboro to contribute my ideas to the township’s Smart Growth Plan and was given a copy of a statement of objectives from Marlboro’s most recent master plan. I was struck by this particular objective, adopted by our township’s Planning Board:

"To guide future residential and nonresidential growth in a coordinated and managed approach as set forth in this master plan and to provide for logical transitional uses between residential and nonresidential areas."

No one can argue with that objective. But how does it jibe with that same Planning Board’s recent vote to approve construction of a huge warehouse-office building at Tennent and Amboy roads, next door to two homes and across from my home?

This monstrosity required 12 variances – no doubt a township record – including total disregard for setback, buffer and fencing requirements championed by the master plan and required under our zoning ordinance. Evidently the Planning Board thinks it’s OK to leave a historic home – mine dates to the mid-1800s – standing naked to face this warehouse. No setback, no buffer, no fence.

That’s a "logical transitional use?"

It’s a puzzle, all right.

Here’s another mystery: This same application was before the zoning board from 2005 until 2007. The zoners had the decency to call it what it is: "overwhelmingly overbuilt."

The applicant promptly withdrew and reapplied to our more pliable, recently reconstituted Planning Board. What law allows such venue shopping?

And was the Planning Board even aware that the zoners had properly slapped this proposal down? If not, who decided to deprive the planners of this information?

There will be answers. I’m suing and am confident the courts will find that, in the words of a Founding Father, we are a nation of laws, not of men. The Planning Board has authority to bend the law a bit for a good cause, but not to bend it in every imaginable way. That’s called breaking the law.

As one dissenting Planning Board member said about the majority’s motive: "Because it’s a ratable, anything goes." He worried that the precedent set here bodes ill for any homeowner near a boundary with an incompatible zone. And he hit on a truth that corrupts justice not just in Marlboro, but everywhere. As another wise man said: "Follow the money."

To return to my reason for attending the Smart Growth session: I suggested our mayor and Township Council adopt a resolution in strong opposition to any future widening of Tennent Road through our town – a project that had been in Monmouth County’s long-range master plan for at least two decades.

The 150 or so homeowners on Tennent Road do not want a four-lane highway turning their front lawns into asphalt, or to risk their lives each time they venture out of their driveways. They deserve as much consideration as the township has given homeowners along the Henry Hudson Trail who oppose resumption of passenger train service there.
Alexander Ingham