WARREN TWP. – A hearing on a three-story, 50-room hotel project on the Stone House property in Stirling Ridge continued before the Zoning Board of Adjustment with additional testimony on landscaping.
Jersey City-based developer Maddy Realty LLC is looking for a variation in use to build the hotel to the right of the driveway at the front of the site near Stirling Road, and variation in height for part of the building reaching more than 35 feet, exceeding 10 percent of the height allowed in the area.
Christopher Nusser, project engineer and planner with Engineering & Planning Associates, Inc. in High Bridge, completed his testimony on the trees and shrubs included in the plan in a virtual and in-person hybrid meeting on Monday, May 3.
He then spent time answering questions about his testimony, including previous testimony from April 5, from counsel, members of the public and a lawyer representing opponents of the claim.
Opponents, residents of eight houses on Dillon Court directly north of the site, are represented by Daniel Kline of Herold Law in Warren. Kline’s questions on May 3 focused on Nusser’s testimony about the landscaping.
The plan would require the developer to remove 49 trees from the property and plant 48 new trees on the rest of the site.
Kline asked how many of the 49 trees proposed for removal would come from the sloping portion of the property closest to Stiles Road, where the building and an access road to the garage would be located. Nusser replied that 38 trees would be removed from this area.
Kline then asked if the developer would plant one of the replacement trees in the sloping area where the access road would be built.
Nusser said no, but the plan includes planting a number of trees along the perimeter of the building from its southeast side to its north side, with the parts of the building facing Dillon Court.
“Can we cram more trees between other trees?” We probably could, ”he said. “But it would have a potential impact on the trees that exist there today and their root systems.”
Kline asked if there had been any analysis regarding stormwater runoff, flooding or drainage issues related to the sloping area given the proposed tree removal and replacement plan.
Nusser said the plan would not impact the stability of the slope and that building the hotel would actually stabilize the slope.
He said a more in-depth stormwater management assessment – submitted with a request for a full site plan – would further address those concerns.
Mitchell Dennett, of Stiles Road, asked how a fire engine could realistically and safely access the building’s garage with the intended access road being on the steep slope. Nusser said he didn’t think the access road would be too steep to manage.
“I think it’s a comfortable maximum,” he said, adding that he had seen steeper residential driveways.
The hearing was postponed until the next council meeting on Monday, June 7, with Nusser scheduled to testify as a professional town planner.