No Decision on Controversial Housing Plan
A special meeting for the application has been set for Dec. 10.
A decision has still not been rendered in the application to build 18 homes on the property formerly owned by John Wemple at Twin Oaks and Steele Gap roads.
The application was heard at Tuesday’s planning board meeting.
The application is for the building of 18 single-family homes on the woodlands formerly owned by the late John Wemple, and currently owned by Steven Lang.
Wemple, who willed the property to his nieces and nephews after his death in 2002, had maintained to his neighbors that he never wanted to see the land developed, and made that a part of his will, which was overturned by the Superior Court of New Jersey in 2005.
Although the applicant has already rested his case, Stop 18 Homes—a group formed to oppose the application itself—has called in engineers and experts in endangered species to testify as to why the development should not move forward.
According to councilman Filipe Pedroso, John Thonet, one of the experts with Stop 18 Homes, was unable to attend Tuesday's meeting, and therefore could not be questioned.
Instead, after comments from the public during the meeting, it was adjourned to a special session on Dec. 10, when a decision could be made.
At a previous meeting, Foothill Road resident Bob Vaucher told the board that Wemple, when he was alive, was an avid car collector, and he often dumped garbage in the back of his property because there was no garbage pickup at the time.
Vaucher was asked to give that testimony again at Tuesday’s meeting because of a tape issue that caused recordings to be lost.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Vaucher said he never saw Wemple dump oil there, but knew that there were never less than three cars on the property.
And in comments about the application, residents said they are against the project, but if it does go forward, they would like to see the character of the community remain, and possibly maintain some of the barns on the land.
In addition, Emile DeVito, manager of NJ Conservation in Far Hills, said at the meeting that he does not believe it can be said that while the habitat on the site will be impacted, there will be no regional impact. Every time a habitat is lost, he said, the animals impacted are closer to being threatened, and there are many on that property that have been cited as being in this situation.
Many residents emphasized at the meeting that they would like to see additional studies done concerning the wildlife and other species currently living on the property.
But officials with Lang said they believe 39 hours of studying on the property was more than sufficient to determine the kind of ecological impact on the property, as well as the wildlife there.
The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 10, with the regular meeting on Dec. 11 also reserved for the application if a decision is not reached.
What do you think? Should more studies be done?
Are you in favor of the application?