Vernon residents to continue fight against Legend's development

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:50

    Vernon-Three weeks ago, upset residents of Vernon crowded into the Municipal Building's conference room to fight the proposed development of a 640-acre tract of land surrounding the current Legends Resort and Spa. In one week, on Sept. 30, they will be back again for the continuation of a public hearing on the proposal. Among the many issues raised at the proposal of increasing the 362 originally proposed units to 398 units was that of uniformity among the pods. Of the proposed 398 units, only about 70% of the pods will be equipped with closed car garages. Most units are planned to have a one-car garage and a private parking lot space, while all other parking is to be strictly street parking. This proposition poses a problem with respect to road width, as the roads will average a width of 25 to 26 feet. According to Crystal Springs developers, parking would be allowed on both sides of the street. But with average car width being approximately five feet, residents raised the concern that such a limited road width would not allow ample space for two-way traffic. Another parking issue raised by Alan Klump, a Vernon resident, was the relationship between the garages and the existing topography giving the appearance of "floating garages." Forrester responded that the plans were merely preliminary and had been designed within an eight-week period prior to the meeting. An issue of much concern to the board members and community at large was that of unit owners maintaining the residence year-round, rather than using the units as seasonal vacation homes. The applicant presented the units as "resort oriented" with no stay restriction. While they did not anticipate any year-round residents, it was unclear whether or not the units would be sold as time shares or to private ownership. It is also unclear whether private owners would be permitted to rent their units to vacationers. Another concern raised was that of how the proposed development was to meet the Committee on Affordable Housing (COAH) obligation for affordable housing. According to COAH guidelines, all new developments are required to provide affordable housing of one in every ten units within the development. In response, Crystal Springs proposed a donation of an unspecified amount to the township. The proposed "donation" is to be equivalent to the market value of one in every eight units. A number of additional questions were also raised in regard to the marketing of the proposed resort/vacation homes, the environmental impact of development, the geology of the site, the economic impact, and traffic implications. By a unanimous vote of the board members, Crystal Springs Holding Inc. and Shinnihon USA will return for another hearing before zoning board on Sept. 30. At that time, the board will be presented with a revised site plan, a market analysis, economic impact data, an environmental impact statement, and a traffic report. Counsel for the joint venture, however, stated that a geologist's statement would be "esoteric" at this time, and directs attention to the prior study that was performed on the site. Craig Williams, Sheriff of the Environmental Commission, which has recommended that the development not be approved as it is now planned, appealed to the board to allocate funds to hire a professional geologist to perform a private survey of the underlying geology of the site. It was agreed that Crystal Springs provide the results of its study to the Environmental Commission for review and if further information was needed the council would look into funding at that time.