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Montgomery Township Planning Board Approves Carrier Clinic Plans to Expand and Renovate

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted March 7, 2024


The Montgomery Township Planning Board unanimously approved Carrier Clinic’s application on February 12 to expand and renovate its existing Behavioral Health Facility located on East Mountain Road and Belle Mead-Blawenburg Road (County Route 601).


Architect’s rendering of the proposed adolescent unit.


At the public hearing in the Montgomery Municipal Building, interested persons were to be given an opportunity to be heard. It turns out, there were no members of the public in the audience, so there were no public comments. Carrier Clinic was granted preliminary and final major site plan approval for the expansion and renovation.


The proposal is to reconfigure the existing facility to provide separate units for adolescent patients and adult patients and relocate administrative offices within the main hospital building, the current administrative office being demolished. The complex currently has 297 licensed beds including the 52 beds to be included in the proposed adolescent treatment unit. Carrier says the 52 beds are being repurposed.


The development includes a 45,000-square-foot building addition, comprising the adolescent treatment unit, a 795-square-foot building addition containing offices and conference space and the repurposing of existing treatment rooms to administrative offices. Additional improvements include a masonry sign wall with roof canopy in the rear of the existing main hospital building, a greenhouse, 42 parking spaces, reconfiguration of driveways and parking areas, fences, waste enclosures, stormwater management facilities, pervious pavement, sidewalks, curbs, planting areas, façade signs and lighting.


The plan will also include the removal of existing trees, fences, 63 parking spaces, driveways, walkways, recreation areas, a 9,534-square-foot executive building, a trailer, and internal renovations to consolidate services. The bulk variances and design waivers granted include: A variance to install a 14-foot-high anti-climb fence attached to the sides and rear of the adolescent unit building addition. (Montgomery Township permits fences up to 10 feet high in this zone.)


Christine Nazzaro Cofone, the professional planner for Carrier, said the clinic has designed the fencing around its campus to look like Princeton University, or the Hun School. “A lot of thought has gone into it,” Nazzaro Cofone said. Planning Board Member Neena Singh, who is also the mayor of Montgomery, asked if Carrier has considered “a little healing garden ... because I think being out in nature within the confines of the property is not a requirement to pass this, but I think it would be good.”


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Nazzaro Cofone agreed that gardens and nature programs are good to have on the campus, especially for patients suffering with PTSD. “We have a greenhouse we are putting in,” she said. “We have an equine program as well. We are also looking at labyrinths and different types of healing gardens. We are raising money, so philanthropy-wise, Carrier is looking for people to donate.”


The Planning Board also granted relief from the required setback distance of 100 feet along East Mountain Road, allowing it to be 78 feet instead. The Board also granted relief from a requirement for a 50-foot-wide buffer screening. The landscape buffer area will be 34.6 feet wide instead, and will consist of evergreen trees planted in a staggered row with clustered shrubs, perennials, and lawn along East Mountain Road.


“We are introducing green where we can, while trying to have no substantial increase in the impervious area,” she said. There was also a waiver for relief from the required 14 trees per acre on a non-residential development, which would have required 1,213 trees. Instead, Carrier will provide a net total trees of 75 trees.

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