Franklin Lakes October 21, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 9 Board to decide on Omaha Way subdivision by Frank J. McMahon This week, the Franklin Lakes Planning Board is expected to vote on an application by Mark Built Homes to subdivide a 14-acre wooded property at the end of Omaha Way into three lots. The steeply sloped property is surrounded by residential properties on three sides and the High Mountain Park property in Wayne on the south side. The board has been considering this application since July of 2008 and a public hearing on the matter that has been ongoing since January was closed in June. However, the hearing was reopened in September to allow neighbors of the site and other residents to comment on the plan and its potential impact on their properties. The board heard comments from about a dozen residents at its last two public meetings and closed the public hearing on the application again at its Oct. 7 meeting. At that time, Jerome Vogel, the attorney for Mark Built Homes, advised the board that he would not provide another extension of time for the board to make a decision on his client’s subdivision application unless it was solely for the purpose of board deliberation and voting. Franklin Lakes Planning Board Chairman Frank Conte agreed and Vogel granted the extension until the Oct. 21 meeting of the board. If the application is approved, Mark Built Homes plans to construct estate type homes on the three lots. Approximately 490 cubic yards of soil and rock (an estimated 38 truckloads) must be removed from the site to create the subdivision. It has been estimated that between 1,800 and 2,000 truckloads will ultimately be required to remove all the soil and rock during the total development of the three lots on the site. Vogel said that could take five to seven years based on today’s housing market. The immediate neighbors of the property who voiced their opposition to the plan advised that many of those along the truck route that will be used to remove the soil and rock have also voiced opposition to the plan based on their concerns that their homes and properties may be damaged by the development because of drainage problems, the potential need for blasting the rock on the site, and the number of trucks that will be transporting the soil and rock. The residents claim the development will scar the hillside and they have voiced concern about the potential need for high retaining walls in order to create the three lots. They also said the long term impact of the removal of the soil and rock would devalue their homes, and they have threatened to file tax appeals to reduce their property taxes if the development is approved. Vogel argued, however, that the only issue before the board is the three lot subdivision, which would require 38 truckloads of soil and rock to be removed from the site. He emphasized to the residents that the subdivision requires one variance for a lot width deficiency. In addition, he pointed out that all three lots would not be developed at the same time, and the plans for the individual lots would have to be presented to the board at some time in the future for its approval, at which time all the issues related to the individual lots would be addressed. Opponents of the plan have emphasized that, once the subdivision is approved, the board will be forced to approve the individual site plans for the three lots, and the length of time it will take to develop the site will have a negative effect of the value of their homes. Kent Seyffer, who lives on Dakota Trail near the Mark Built Homes site, said he and other opponents of the plan are actively seeking ways to obtain funding that might allow the borough to purchase the property from the developer. He said, “We are pleading with the board to deny this application and to send it to the mayor and borough council to see if they can sit down with the applicant and buy this land back.” Seyffer had previously made a presentation to the governing body pointing out the financial impact the tax appeals of the surrounding property owners might have on the borough, and he asked the mayor and council to consider the purchase of this land to save it from development. Chairman Conte responded to the objecting residents, saying, “We up here are your neighbors. We are residents of the town, and we took an oath to uphold the laws of the state, and sometimes we have to make decisions that are not what the general public believes is right, but we did take an oath to uphold the law. I’m not sure how this will come out, but we have to uphold the law.” According to Conte, the board will deliberate and then vote on the application at the Oct. 21 meeting. specializing in Solution Focused Brief Therapy • THE CENTER FOR COUPLES AND FAMILY SOLUTIONS couples & marriage issues • family transitions & conflict • separation and divorce • women’s issues • anxiety • depression • child behavior problems Debra D. 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