Short Hills Association Makes Statement at Planning Board Meeting on Chatham Road Project

Below is the transcript of the statement made by Sanford Kimmel representing the Short Hills Association at the April 28th Planning Board meeting concerning the Chatham Road project by the Silverman Group:

I am speaking on behalf of myself and as a member of the Board of Directors of The Short Hills Association, the Township’s oldest civic association. We oppose the application of The Silverman Group for site plan approval of its proposed Development project at Chatham and Woodland Roads, in the heart of historic Short Hills Village.

  1. First, it is noteworthy that we find ourselves in a situation in which the imposing size and scale of the proposed 62 unit, multi-family building is indisputably incompatible with the buildings and settings in Short Hills to which it is geographically proximate; indeed it is patently incompatible with the long established character of the Glenwood neighborhood. Although the inclusion of affordable housing in a community is a constitutionally mandated goal, it should not follow that the developer can, as has been done here, seize upon that mandate to destroy the surrounding neighborhood and the residential character of the community in an arrogant and dismissive pursuit of profit.  There were better ways to meet Millburn’s affordable housing obligations.  We are asking the Board not to compound the problem.  
  2. The application has failed to adequately address traffic flow and safety around the proposed building.  The design of the building's motor vehicle entrances and exits, which will be used by tenants, their visitors, and Summit Medical Group patients and personnel, fails to ensure the safety of children and other pedestrians who will be traversing the area.  After  the Covid crisis is over and commuter traffic in the area returns to its normal volume, a volume which was not calculated appropriately by the applicant’s traffic engineer who did his study in July 2020, the mix of pedestrians, including young school age children who attend the Glenwood school, traffic rushing for parking spaces near the Short Hills train station, and trucks loading or unloading around the building will create dangerous conditions, foreseeably resulting in auto accidents and serious pedestrian injuries.  The building’s constricted views and obstructed walkways coupled with cars turning into or leaving its garages will make the area ripe for accidents.  Nothing proffered by the developer satisfactorily resolves this unacceptable safety hazard.
  3. The proposed rooftop deck, which was not addressed in the Settlement Agreement, nor in  the Concept Plan annexed to it as Exhibit B, is likely to become a significant nuisance in short order due to resulting, disruptive and annoying neighborhood noise, which may well require the involvement of Township law enforcement personnel to resolve, lack of supervision of rooftop activities by non-resident building management employees, lack of enforcement of necessary use restrictions , potential fire hazards etc.  Indeed the applicant’s witnesses and attorney were openly dismissive of these legitimate concerns expressed by neighborhood residents during the hearings, naively suggesting that tenants paying $4,000 - $7,000 per month in rent would not indulge in inconsiderate or dangerous behavior. A rooftop deck in this area should be rejected by the Planning Board. Furthermore, permitting a rooftop deck in this quiet, residential area will set a precedent for permitting future development projects in similar, quiet residential areas of the Township to include this incompatible urban feature.  Short Hills is not Jersey City, Hoboken or Morristown.  

We urge the Planning Board to vote no on this application. We ask that you respect our residents’ desire to continue to maintain the suburban character and residential attributes that induced us to choose Short Hills as our home.