Wemple Hearing Postponed, Applicant Revising Plans

The hearing has been postponed to Sept. 11.

The application for 18 homes on the former at Twin Oaks and Foothill roads has been postponed until Sept. 11 while applicant Steve Lang finishes finalizing revised plans.

The hearing for the application was expected to continue at Tuesday's planning board meeting with a report from the applicant's environmental expert.

But Michael Cresitello, attorney for Lang, requested a continuance to a future meeting.

"We are in the process of finalizing revised plans," he said. "We have asked to be carried to the next meeting."

The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 27, but the planning board will not have a quorum, so it has been pushed to Sept. 11.

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 at a future meeting.

Patty Phillips, a member of the Stop 18 Homes steering committee, said they had no idea the applicant was revising his plans for the property, and don't know what those changes entail. She said they will have to wait until the plans are submitted to the township.

The last hearing for the application was held July 10, and the applicant said they would be bringing an environmental expert in to discuss the environmental impacts of building 18 homes on the property.

No hearings have been held since, and the environmental expert has not yet been heard.

But Phillips said Stop 18 Homes has since hired its own environmental expert—John Thonet, president of Thonet Associates Inc.—and have also brought in an ecologist.

"They studied the perimter of the site," she said.

Phillips said they had to study it from adjacent properties because the owner of the land has denied the objectors any access to it at this point.

"Then we went over plans, drainage, wildlife and more," she said. "We will be getting a report soon."

As for Stop 18 Homes, Phillips said she is planning to now look into some fundraising opportunities for the organization in an effort to raise money to cover the costs of the group's attorney, Jeffrey Brookner, and the experts they have brought in thus far.

"Maybe we could have a neighborhood garage sale," she said. "I am getting ideas about donating and getting donations. I have to work out the kinks."

As for the objections to the application, Phillips said they are currently in a holding pattern, waiting for the next hearing.

But, Phillips said, the one good thing that has come from all this is that she has been able to meet so many of her neighbors.

"I didn't know most of these families, and that is the one positive thing that came out of all this," she said. "It has brought me closer to neighbors I didn't know before."

Diane Endris, of Foothill Road, said she is objecting the application because she just wants to maintain the neighborhood.

"Leave the land alone, leave the habitat alone," she said. "If I wanted to live in a city, I would go live in a city."

The next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the municipal complex on Commons Way.


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