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Monty Protestors Postpone Approval of 154-unit Affordable Housing Development on River Road

By Barbara A. Preston l August 17, 2021

About 88 people attended a virtual planning board meeting on Monday evening, most objecting to traffic and environmental issues related to a proposed 154-unit development on River Road in Montgomery Township, just south of Rocky Hill.

Multiple speakers objected to the extension of Salisbury Road. The half-mile-long narrow street begins on Blue Spring Road and continues through a high density community of rowhomes and apartments built in the 1990s. It now has a dead end at the entrance to what will likely become The Haven at Princeton. (TheMontyNews, July 6 2021).

"There are kids who use that road for biking and skateboarding, and to walk to the tennis courts and playgrounds. It would not be safe to put more traffic into Salisbury Road." — Naeem Anwar. (Lives next to the proposed development.)
A few of the people who spoke at the Montgomery Township Planning Board meeting on Monday.

The new development would have more than 305 parking spaces, according to Joseph A. Fishinger, Jr., Director of Traffic Engineering.

Montgomery Township Engineer Gail Smith, Police Captain James M. Gill, and Fire Chief Adam Verducci all support the extension of Salisbury Road, which they say has been on the masterplan since the 1970s. Without the extension, residents of the newest development would have to use River Road for all ventures into Montgomery.

Green is the existing Salisbury Road. Red would be the extension through to River Road.

Salisbury Road should connect to River Road as prescribed in the township master plan, says Engineer Smith. The Salisbury Road connection will:

o Improve traffic circulation;

o Improve safety including emergency services access. Specifically, The Haven should not have its only access from River Road;

o Allow for proper snow plowing and maintenance;

o Provide better connection between the Haven, including its affordable units, and the other Blue Spring Road and Salisbury Road communities.

"Concerns about increased traffic on the existing section of Salisbury Road can be mitigated with traffic calming measures, which the applicant has expressed willingness to provide," Smith said.

Fire Safety

"From a fire response, access and tactical perspective, it is imperative that Salisbury road is extended to River Road," Fire Chief Verducci said. "Having a second means to access the proposed development adds greater flexibility in fire suppression tactics, allowing apparatus to respond from another direction if necessary."

Captain Gill recommended that Salisbury Road continue through to (River Road) County Route 605. "This would provide a more efficient and timely response for police, fire, and EMS," he said. "Also, should Route 605 become impassible or closed for any reason, the extension would allow access to the residents."

Some residents spoke to the planning board about River Road flooding during heavy rain.

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Lincoln Hollister, a geologist, mentioned that the new development would be part of the Rocky Hill diabase, same as most of the Blue Spring Road communities. "It is impermeable to water," he said. "Groundwater just runs right off it, unless it is held back by forests and vegetation."

"The wetlands habitat will be compromised with the development," Hollister said.

The Montgomery Planning Board could approve the development at its next meeting, scheduled for September 20. Still, the developer will need various permits and approvals from the NJ State Department of Environmental Protection, the D&R Canal Commission, and Somerset County regarding the wetlands and flood plains on the property, and the traffic.

To receive final approval, the developer will need to get permits and approvals from the following entities: Delaware-Raritan Canal Commission; NJDEP – Freshwater Wetlands Line Delineation; NJDEP – Freshwater Wetlands general permit/transition area waiver; NJDEP – Flood Hazard Area Verification/Permits; NJDEP – transition area waiver for sewer main extension; NJDEP – Bureau of Safe Drinking Water – Water Main Extension; Somerset County Planning Board; Montgomery Township Fire Marshal; Somerset-Union Soil Conservation District NJ DEP, since the property includes wetlands and flood areas.


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