The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is questioning whether Hopewell Township properly noticed a public meeting tonight about the Pennytown Kooltronic site. Because of the notice issue, the nonprofit has been advised by lawyers not to attend the meeting and risk jeopardizing any legal recourse it might have.
The Hopewell Township Committee is slated to discuss the controversial Pennytown Kooltronic development proposal during a work session at the public meeting, and could possibly take a vote on moving forward with the project tonight.
The Watershed Association’s 930-acre Watershed Reserve is located about a quarter mile from the Kooltronic property.
In a statement made to the Hopewell Planning Board March 21, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association Executive Director Jim Waltman asked the Board to either postpone a decision or to vote against the proposal for the Township to move forward as a development partner. But the Planning Board voted to recommend that the Township move ahead with the project.
Waltman had argued that the public was told the Hopewell Planning Board would make a recommendation to the Committee on March 28. But then last week, the Township’s website was changed to announce that the decision would be made at the Committee meeting tonight.
“This abrupt change in scheduling denies us, the public, and the Board adequate time to review the various reports, including one report that was just presented,” Waltman said in his statement.
The proposed project calls for Kooltronic and the township to build 350 housing units, 22,000 square feet of commercial space and a community center on 104 acres of land located at the corner of Route 31 and Pennington-Hopewell Road.
Hopewell Township purchased the 28-acre former Pennytown site, located on Route 31, to build 70 affordable housing units there so that the Township meet its fair-housing obligations.The township then approached Kooltronic about a joint venture to develop a bigger project encompassing 76 acres owned by Kooltronic on the other side of Pennington-Hopewell Road.
The plan calls for 228 housing units on Kooltronic’s land, with the remaining 122 units and all the commercial and community space located on the township-owned land. Kooltronic has said it plans to develop its land with or without the township. Under a 2004 court settlement with the township, Kooltronic could build up to 255 houses on its land if water and septic conditions allow it and the company preserves open space elsewhere in the town.