UNION, NJ — Plans to establish a group home for people with disabilities on Francyne Way were postponed at the Nov. 19 Planning Board meeting because a playground on the property may have to be relocated.
The decision to table the hearing came after Union residents expressed concerns about the group home on social media. Many attending the meeting said they hoped to have their questions answered.
New information regarding a major subdivision involving the property in 1996 was discovered recently, meaning the application was not up to date enough to be presented to the board.
“Until we’re able to adjust that and come up with a new application related to the major subdivision, we’re asking that this application be tabled,” assistant township attorney Frank Mcintyre said at the meeting.
The application for the proposed project is a joint submission by the township, which owns the land, and the nonprofit Community Access Unlimited, which would build and operate the home. The one-story, four-bedroom unit at 1240 Francyne Way would house four developmentally disabled individuals.
The application for the new group home requires a subdivision of the property because an existing playground currently on the site would need to be relocated to another area of the property.
“Based on information that came to our attention just recently that is related to the park and the 1996 major subdivision approval and resolution regarding the park that is within there,” Mcintyre stated. “It involves the size of the park and the nonconformities with it.”
The application was originally supposed to be heard at the Oct. 28 meeting, but it was delayed to Nov. 19.
“These individuals would be high functioning, even some with jobs and other responsibilities,” township spokeswoman Natalie Pineiro said of prospective residents in the group home in an email on Nov. 29.
The residents would also have a full-time caretaker.
Issues of concern raised by residents included quality-of-life issues such as increased traffic with transportation vehicles and increased noise in the area.
At other group homes run by CAU in Union there have been no issues reported to police or emergency services, according to Pineiro.
“In addition, the residents of the proposed home would be required to conform to all normal ordinances and regulations regarding noise, parking and property use,” she said.
Assistant township engineer Phil Harderer addressed the issue with the application, saying, “As we dug into this, we came to find out that the playground that was supposed to have been built is roughly three times the size of what you see out there today,” he said.
“No doubt, it requires an approval of the township if the township insists on maintaining the size that was approved back in ‘96. That would have an extraordinary effect on the project, so much so that it might cause it to go away.”
Harderer said he had received new information earlier in day and that he needed to meet with the developer to acquire more details.
Planning Board attorney Diane Dabulas assured Union residents that they will be notified in advance if the application for the group home comes back before the board.
“There’s new information and we’re carrying the application. It may come back and it may not, but there’s no decision tonight because it will not be heard,” she stated.
Since the application was not being heard, there was no public discussion regarding it.
A revised application will have to be submitted for future consideration.