Original Article

LONG HILL TWP. – A public hearing before the Planning Board will precede any consideration by the Township Committee to rezone property near the Millington train station, where a developer has proposed a “transit village.”

Township Committeeman Brendan Rae, a member of the Planning Board, said there are no plans to put a transit village proposal “on any referendum” before voters.

“The Township Committee asked the Planning Board to consider an ordinance for rezoning that particular area because right now it’s light industrial, to (see) what it would look like if it was going to be residential,” explained Rae, responding to a citizen at a Tuesday, Sept. 20 Township Committee meeting.

“The Planning Board hasn’t discussed that yet. Of course, there will be public discussions and there also will be a public hearing of any ordinance at the Planning Board before it comes back to this body.”

The Township Committee “can’t put that out to public referendum because that property is not a township asset,” added Mayor Bruce Meringolo.

The elected officials’ comments came after Stirling resident Geno Moscetti told the Township Committee he is “very much against” a transit village at the Millington location.

“I speak to a lot of people in town, and they have no idea (a transit village) is proposed over there,” said Moscetti. “I would encourage all the Committee members to research the social, economic impact of putting such a large number of people that weren’t there into a smaller piece of property.”

In late May, the Township Committee approved a resolution for the Planning Board to consider a proposed transit village in Millington. Township committeemen, after hearing a presentation by Prism Capital Partners, LLC of Bloomfield, agreed to have the Planning Board work with the Prism group and come back to them within 180 days with a rezoning ordinance for the area.

Prism representatives proposed building the development on the Tifa LTD. property, which it was in the process of purchasing, at the corner of Division Avenue and Stonehenge Road.

Prism representatives at the Township Committee’s May 25 meeting presented their plan for the transit village, an area within walking distance of a train station. Under the proposal, the multi-story complex would have 220 units and add an estimated 431 residents to Long Hill.

Prism Principal Partner Eugene Diaz told township leaders if they don’t ultimately approve the project, his company was prepared to use the property for the industrial purpose it is now zoned for.

Opposition Heard

Stirling’s Moscetti, speaking during public discussion at the Sept. 20 meeting, said he doesn’t believe the Millington site is the place for a transit village. Several residents have voiced opposition to the proposal at previous meetings and in letters submitted to the Echoes-Sentinel.

“A transit village, from my understanding, is something where there is some sort of serious shopping area within 200 feet, which is walking distance,” said Moscetti. “There’s nothing like that in Millington. … They’re usually put into (a town) like Bernardsville, where there’s a downtown with existing businesses. Not in the middle of a ‘Norman Rockwell town’.

“I would just encourage you to do some research on what the agenda is for transit villages. It’s a big push by New Jersey Transit and also the federal government. Putting something like that into a town like Millington is going to affect the character of Long Hill Township. I encourage you to do a lot of research on it before you get something in front of you from the Planning Board.”

According to the proposal presented May 25, the transit village project would include several buildings and accessible walkways that house new businesses and smaller apartments on a first floor, and residential duplexes on second and third floors. Prism representatives estimated net revenue for the township from this development at more than $300,000.