New Lon­don Road plan moves ahead

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­[email protected]­pub.com

A plan to more than triple the size of the Cam­pus Walk stu­dent town­house com­plex on New Lon­don Road moved for­ward ear­lier this month.

De­spite con­cerns about its den­sity and the im­pact it could have on traf­fic, the plan­ning com­mis­sion voted in fa­vor of the project, which will need fi­nal ap­proval from city coun­cil.

“These de­vel­op­ments that are go­ing in are re­plac­ing, in many in­stances, homes that are de­crepit and fall­ing apart and not some­thing that we want to hang a shin­gle on for the city,” Plan­ning Com­mis­sioner Frank McIn­tosh said. “They are mak­ing our city look a lot bet­ter.”

De­vel­oper Kevin May­hew is propos­ing to re­move 11 rental homes at 83-105 New

Lon­don Road, lo­cated on the west side of New Lon­don Road between St. John AUMP Church and Cor­bit Street.

In their place, May­hew would build 28 town­hous­es­tyle apart­ments. The 12 town­houses along New Lon­don Road would have five bed­rooms each, while the 16 units be­hind them would have four bed­rooms each.

Each unit would have a two-car garage, and the plan also in­cludes a 22-space park­ing lot, which ex­ceeds the re­quired park­ing.

Known as Cam­pus Walk II, the town­houses would be ad­ja­cent to, and mod­eled af­ter, the orig­i­nal 12-unit Cam­pus Walk com­plex, which was built in 2013. The six-bed­room units at the orig­i­nal com­plex rent for $4,284 per month.

“We think this is con­sis­tent with the char­ac­ter,” said John Tracey, an at­tor­ney for the de­vel­oper. “It cer­tainly builds upon what you find in the Cam­pus Walk I com­mu­nity and it fea­tures tak­ing older struc­tures and cer­tainly bring­ing a more modern yet, I think, fine ar­chi­tec­tural touch to these ar­eas.”

Also as part of the plan, May­hew would move one of the New Lon­don Road homes to nearby Wil­son Street to re­place an older house there.

“We’re re­lo­cat­ing it here be­cause it’s ac­tu­ally not that old,” Tracey said. “So it makes more sense to kind of pick it up and move it and place in the lo­ca­tion as op­posed to tear­ing down and build­ing an­other house there.”

May­hew would do­nate 5,000 square feet of land bor­der­ing St. John AUMP to the church to be used for fu­ture ex­pan­sion.

The prop­erty is zoned cor­rectly, but the project re­quires an amend­ment to the com­pre­hen­sive de­vel­op­ment plan to al­low a higher den­sity.

May­hew is also re­quest­ing re­lief through the site plan ap­proval process, which is an al­ter­na­tive to re­quest­ing in­di­vid­ual vari­ances. The project is non-com­pli­ant with a num­ber of re­quire­ments, in­clud­ing max­i­mum lot cov­er­age, dis­tance between build­ings, max­i­mum open area, park­ing/load­ing set­back, ex­te­rior lot lines, min­i­mum lot area, min­i­mum lot width, rear yard, and side yard.

Com­mis­sioner Robert Stozek said the project has too many ar­eas in which it is non­com­pli­ant.

“We see this over and over again,” Stozek said. “Why do we have codes when we’re con­stantly vi­o­lat­ing them?”

Com­mis­sioner Bob Cronin said the den­sity con­cerns him.

“Higher den­sity, yes, but I think it’s just too darn dense,” Cronin said. “I think it’s just squeezed in too much and too tight.”

Edgar Small, whose West Main Street home backs up to the project site, ex­pressed con­cern about the ef­fect on traf­fic and stormwa­ter, as well as the loss of land­scap­ing.

“I’m not against de­vel­op­ment,” Small said. “I like when things are made to look nicer in your com­mu­nity. I think that adds value. But I think it has to be done in the con­text of what the reg­u­la­tions are.”

Ul­ti­mately, the plan­ning com­mis­sion voted 6-1 to rec­om­mend coun­cil ap­prove the com­pre­hen­sive plan amend­ment. The board also voted 4-3 to rec­om­mend ap­proval of a ma­jor sub­di­vi­sion with site plan ap­proval. A date for con­sid­er­a­tion by coun­cil has not yet been set.

If ap­proved, the project would ce­ment May­hew’s dom­i­nance of the stu­dent hous­ing mar­ket on New Lon­don Road. May­hew owns nearly the en­tire west side of the road between Hill­side Road and the Ge­orge Wil­son Cen­ter, in­clud­ing the two Cam­pus Walk sites as well as the Cam­pus Side and Emily Bell Place com­plexes. He also owns rental homes on Wil­son Street and Cor­bit Street.

The area is part of the his­tor­i­cally African-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity sur­round­ing New Lon­don Road and Cleve­land Av­enue. Dur­ing the days of seg­re­ga­tion, it was a safe haven for black Ne­wark­ers, who formed a tight-knit com­mu­nity there.

In re­cent years, how­ever, de­vel­op­ers have bought up many of the homes to rent to univer­sity stu­dents or re­de­velop into large stu­dent hous­ing com­plexes.

As part of an agree­ment with the Ne­wark Hous­ing Au­thor­ity, which sold May­hew one of the homes he is propos­ing to de­mol­ish, May­hew will in­stall a his­tor­i­cal marker hon­or­ing the his­tory of the area.

Un­der fed­eral law, agen­cies that use fed­eral money are re­quired to con­sider the im­pact on his­toric struc­tures be­fore sell­ing a prop­erty. NHA, along with the U.S. De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment, held a pub­lic meet­ing last year to dis­cuss the prop­erty and ways to mit­i­gate the im­pact of its sale.

Such mit­i­ga­tion can be as sim­ple as in­stalling a sign or hold­ing a pub­lic event to com­mem­o­rate the his­tory of the area, a HUD rep­re­sen­ta­tive said at the time.

SUB­MIT­TED IM­AGE

An artist’s ren­der­ing shows the town­houses planned for New Lon­don Road.

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