State's planning maps threaten to limit Franklin's development

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:04

    Franklin asks DEP to accept land for growth in sewer service area, By Mark J. Yablonsky FRANKLIN — Could projects already on the books be killed? That’s the question facing Franklin planners. The borough council voted unanimously last Tuesday night to adopt a final version of its sewer service area map, along with two memos from planning/zoning board engineer Tom Knutelsky, asking the DEP to accept the borough’s choice of “specific lots to be included in the sewer service area.” Franklin awaits the result. At least three already-approved development projects along the Route 23 corridor could be adversely affected if the DEP sticks with its version. Among those projects: a “big-box” retail development and also the Franklin Village, which is both a commercial and residential project. Both have already received full approval. In addition, a possible expansion by Weis Market along Route 23 could be affected, which has received partial approval from the planners. All three projects lay in areas not included in the DEP version. It is generally accepted that without adequate sewer coverage, any new development is likely doomed. “If the sewer service area is cut, there is almost no chance that they will go through,” acknowledged Mayor Paul Crowley. Can development proceed? “The DEP is trying to stop development in Sussex County,” said Jim Kilduff, the borough’s director of planning and community development. “I can’t take it any other way.” On Feb. 20, Knutelsky said, the borough made its “last revision” to the sewer service area map, which if approved, would permit the projects to go forward. Prior to that, the county had prepared the first map version, along with borough input, and sent it to the Department of Environmental Protection in Trenton — which then returned something much different. Then, the borough’s revised map gained planning board approval. But that was before borough professionals recommended additional modifications “based on additional communications with the county. Lots that can no longer be subdivided or included in their entirety,” Knutelsky explained. “It takes a lot of development potential away from the borough,” Knutelsky told council. “We tried to keep lots whole. We’re trying to do a little give and take here as well.”