About 40 residents waited three hours to participate in a public hearing concerning a large housing development proposed for Route 35 South in Middletown.
But they were told they will have to come back again, on Jan. 16 — and likely another date not yet scheduled — to learn more about the large-scale 246-unit project on 31 acres proposed for Taylor Lane, to ask questions and to voice comments.
The applicant for American Properties in Middletown was afforded only about 45 minutes at the end of a long night of board business to testify before the Planning Board about the size and scope of the project and need for waivers and variances. The public portion of the meeting ended at 10 p.m. so that members could go into closed session to discuss pending litigation in a different undisclosed matter.
The board carried the "Heritage at Middletown" application meeting to Jan. 16, and specifically invited interested residents to return to ask questions of the firm's professionals following their testimony.
The project, as described, includes 196 market-rate multifamily "stackable townhomes" and 49 affordable multifamily "flat" units, along with a 3,600-square-foot clubhouse and a pool for the community.
After the meeting, neighbors traded impressions of the brief presentation and vowed to keep tabs on the high-density project, which they fear will provoke a hellish traffic situation, flooding of their properties, overcrowded classrooms at Village Elementary, not to mention depressed property values. Their neighborhood consists of $500,000 homes on 3/4-acre lots.
Cathy Christiana said her biggest concern is traffic. "We've got too much traffic to begin with. Now they want to introduce another 660 parking spaces?"
Brian Johnson of Taylor Lane said he was concerned about the applicant's plan to clear 42 percent of the forested land, because residents there already contend with flooding issues on non-absorbent, predominately clay, soil. Plans to try to control stormwater runoff through grading, as described by the applicant, would worsen the situation, he said. "We're low, and we're going lower," he said of the plan.
Adam Voehl said he knows that the increase of schoolchildren that stress the crowded classrooms at Village Elementary. "There's no spare capacity," he said. "They just gave up their library for a classroom," he said.
Jerry Wexelberg of Downing Court said the traffic will create safety concerns for children. "The through-traffic will back up to the existing neighborhood," he said.
Robert Bennett, who lives directly behind the proposed development on Burdge Dr., said there is already no absorption in the clay soil. "All water runs towards Burdge," he said. He had photos of how the Mahoras Creek overflow during Hurricane Sandy affected his own property, leaving several inches of water.