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Edison NJ Zoning Board delays vote on Charlie Brown site plan

By February 17, 2022February 20th, 2022Site plan

EDISON — It won’t be until after Easter that the township’s zoning adjustment board will vote on a plan to build 23 age-restricted townhouses on the site of the former Charlie Brown restaurant on Plainfield Road.

After a five-hour hearing on Tuesday where more than 20 residents and two experts spoke out against the plan, council is scheduled to resume the hearing and vote on April 26.

Residents have been fighting the project for the past year because they say it’s too much development in a neighborhood of single-family homes.

Markim Developers is seeking permission to build 23 age-restricted townhouses on the zoned 2-acre golf course property at 222 Plainfield Road, adjacent to the Metuchen Golf and Country Club and homes along Edgewood Road.

Charlie Brown's former restaurant on Plainfield Road, Edison

The development requires a waiver of use which can only be granted by five votes from the panel of seven members.

Steven Tripp, Markim’s lawyer, said the age limit of 55 and over is the biggest change to the application since last summer after concerns were raised by residents and council . He said the age limit could be enforced in act restrictions.

Other changes to the original proposal, known as The Links of Edison $15 million project, include reducing the height of the building from 35 feet to 33 feet, prohibiting left turns off site, eliminating the balconies on the south and north buildings and adding 8-foot tall trees to provide more privacy to neighboring homes. The proposal also now includes elevators in each of the three-bedroom, four-level units.

EARLIER:Battle lines are drawn on Edison’s controversial townhouse plan

Edgewood Road resident Amit Patel said the revised plans were not acceptable.

“You’re putting too much on a 2-acre lot. It doesn’t fit the character of the neighborhood,” Patel said, adding that the large townhouses create privacy issues for nearby residents like him. “The request must be denied.”

Katherine Liseno of Edgewood Road said she lives in a special neighborhood where people care about each other and the neighborhood.

“The request is not in keeping with the character of the area,” Liseno said.

Tripp traffic expert Elizabeth Dolan, based in Somerville, said that with the age restriction, the number of trips generated from the site would decrease, especially during peak hours, as residents are more older and have more flexible hours.

But a zoning board member said he understood it was an accepted practice but added ‘it’s not the reality’.

Rendering of the four townhouse buildings planned for the site of Charlie Brown's Restaurant on Plainfield Road

Traffic has been a concern since the project was first proposed. The development is proposed along a section of the road near the entrance to Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Woodbrook Elementary School and near the Metuchen border and Saint Joseph Secondary School.

Paul Phillips, the applicant’s planner, said the restaurant’s secluded site is well suited to a townhouse development. Charlie Brown’s has been closed for about two years.

“It took a pandemic to close the restaurant. There is a demand for a family restaurant to reopen on the site,” said Edgewood Road resident Anthony Martin.

EARLIER:Developer is now looking to build 23 age-restricted townhouses on Edison Charlie Brown site

Phillips said that with the township’s changing demographics, there are very few age-restricted housing units at market rates in Edison. The 2,300 square foot units are expected to sell for around $650,000.

Phillips said he hadn’t researched the demand for this type of accommodation and a board member asked if the units weren’t selling, would Markim be looking to remove the age restriction. Tripp said it was nearly impossible to get an act restriction lifted once it was approved.

Peter Steck, a planning consultant hired by a group of Edgewood Road residents, said 23 units over four levels for people aged 55 and over in a wide but narrow design are causing overcrowding on the site. He said senior housing is not just for people aged 55 and over, but 62 and over.

“Fifty-five plus just means you don’t like school kids,” he said, adding that the property isn’t suitable for townhouses of that scale. He said six single-family homes on a cul-de-sac or another restaurant would be a more appropriate use.

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