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Environmental Report to be Shared on Wemple Land

Flooding primary concern for property as application will continue Tuesday.

The biggest concerns about the proposed development on the Wemple property continue to be that of flooding in the area—and an environmental report is expected to shed some light on that and other issues with development.

Representatives for property owner Steve Lang will be returning to the planning board Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the municipal courtroom with an environmental expert who will discuss the impacts of development on the land.

The application had been expected to be continued at the July 23 meeting, but the meeting was cancelled because of a power outage at the municipal complex.

The application is for the building of 18 single-family homes on 36 acres of woodlands on Twin Oaks and Foothill roads, formerly owned by the late John Wemple, and currently owned by 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.

, an organization made up of more than 60 residents who oppose the application, are expected to introduce their own environmental expert as well, although he may not testify until a later meeting.

Laura Hierspiel, a member of the Stop 18 Homes steering committee, said they have hired John Thonet, president of Thonet Associates Inc., as their environmental expert and ecologist.

"He appears to be well qualified to provide an expert's opinion," she said.

Previous hearings on the application have focused on questioning the applicant's engineer, who has answered questions on the possibility of flooding on surrounding properties, as well as affects on the natural spring on the property.

Stop 18 Homes attorney Jeffrey Brookner has questioned how flash flooding could affect homes down the mountain on Twin Oaks Road and other surrounding areas with the addition of more development.

Residents have said they believe the addition of 18 new homes would be detrimental to their properties in terms of drainage and other issues.

Hierspiel said Stop 18 Homes is also looking into the history of the property, and although they do not know if it will be significant to the case, it is interesting to understand.

"It seems George Washington and his troops were using Steele Gap and Foothill roads to travel up and down the mountain," she said. "There used to be a sign posted at the top of Steele Gap Road, which said that this was used by George Washington as a lookout spot to survey the valley below."

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the courtroom on Commons Way.

Foothill_Friend August 14, 2012 at 11:22 AM
I hope the town council can see through this drama and do what's best for the town. More homes means more people contributing to the tax burden. Also, aren't many of our schools are under enrolled? Bridgewater needs to attract families. Many of us didn't put up signs because we don't oppose the development.
Fred August 14, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Foothill friend, Are you even from Bridgewater? If you were you would know that the Adamsville school in that district is severely overcrowded. This was heavily covered in the news this past spring. As for contributing to the tax burden, I see more development as contributing to the burden on our infastructure and an increase to our taxes. More children in an already overcrowded district and additional burdern on our towns resources (police, fire,first aide squads & public works). Also, lets not forget increased road work on Steele Gap Rd from the additional traffic and flooding. This road needs repaving every few years as it is. More development is definitely not the answer for Bridgewater.
Mike Umbris August 14, 2012 at 01:17 PM
'Foothill Friend' hahaha. A newly created one post wonder. Funny to see the lengths people will go to perpetrate their lies. This plot of land was sold by the family against their father's wishes. Very sad to watch the whole pandora's box unfold.
Golden Gal August 14, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Foothill friend, You are not a friend to Bridgewater. This development will only add to the problems this area already faces. The majority of this neighborhood does not want this travesty to take places. The land was never intended for development,and now if this goes through,the area will be forever changed. Negative impacts will include,increased flooding,additional traffic,on narrow mountain roads,air and noise pollution,destruction of forest and wildlife,and the death of the former owners dream! All this for the almighty dollar!
Foothill_Friend August 14, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Golden Gal, what land is intended for development? Should all development stop in Bridgewater, in NJ or the US, or just in your neck of the woods? Fred wasn't there talk in Bridgewater of closing an elementary school? My kids went to Crim; it is under enrolled now. Bridgewater students just need to be distributed better.
Golden Gal August 14, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Foothill friend,you are being sarcastic. I do not believe all development should stop,but this is not a suitable place for one,in my opinion. I believe if this goes through the neighborhood will suffer the consequences. NJ is already the most highly populated of any state. We need to preserve and protect our remaining natural forests,not destroy them.
nc3000 August 15, 2012 at 01:44 AM
The point is that the area that Lang wants to develop is on the side of the mountain with two underground springs flowing through the middle. This makes for a natural wetland and should not be disturbed. In addition, there are flooding problems all around the area and a development here will only add to the problems.
Ken Jeffries August 15, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Laura Hierspiel in the article is correct. The Virginia Militia's 8th regiment plus Continental Army regulars, approximately 2000 soldiers, under the command of Major General Israel Putnam were stationed on the properties straddling Steel Gap during the 1977-1978 Middlebrook encampment. They were tasked with protecting the westerly flank of the main army at Middlebrook harassing the British in Bound Brook and Prince Town(Princeton) and from the top of the mountain monitoring British troop movements and using signal beacons(bonfires) to warn of a British advance. The mountain path was also used by the French Army on their march to Yorktown.

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