• Joseph F. Berenato

Apt. complex expansion


The proposed plan to expand Hammonton Gardens, as provided by the applicant. (Courtesy Image)

HAMMONTON—The Hammonton Environmental Commission heard a development review presentation by Hammonton Gardens LLC at their monthly meeting on April 13 in town hall.


The presentation was given by professional planner CherylLynn Walters and engineer Thomas C. Roesch. Also present was Mikhael Trocki-Videll, representing Hammonton Gardens LLC.


Commission chair welcomed the applicants to the meeting.


“We’ll be interested in hearing the presentation regarding the future development of Hammonton Gardens,” Bachalis said.


Walters said that the property, located at 882 12th St., Block 1201/Lots 5 and 5.01, is currently developed with an apartment community located in the IDZ (Inclusionary Development Zoning) district.


“The applicant proposed development here now pursuant to the town’s settlement agreement with Fair Share Housing Center and the subsequently adopted housing element and Fair Share Plan, and Ordinance No. 012-2016, which created the IDZ zone,” Walters said.


That ordinance added Section 158 to Chapter 175 of the General Ordinances of the Town of Hammonton.


According to the language of that section, “52 apartments currently exist on the property, and that it is the intent of this section to control development on the property for an additional 84 rental units (as defined herein) for a total no greater than 136 rental units.”


“This section creates a IDZ implementing the Concept Plan referenced above, designed to increase an existing rental development to a total of up to 136 rental units, with a 15 percent set-aside of any new units that are constructed to be designated as affordable rentals that will be governed by controls on affordability that will terminate in accordance with the applicable Uniform Housing Affordability Controls,” the section reads.


“Consistent with those documents, the applicant proposes to rehabilitate the five existing apartment buildings, which contain 52 apartments, and construct 84 new apartments in four buildings, together with associated site improvements—typical site improvements you would ordinarily see, including but not limited to stormwater management, landscaping, lighting, parking,” Walters said.


Walters said that a community clubhouse was also proposed. Roesch explained further.


“There’s a small house in the front of the property; that will be removed. In its place will be a 2,700-square foot clubhouse,” Roesch said.


During discussion, Bachalis asked for more details regarding the small house.


“Is it owner-occupied? Does the corporation own the building?” Bachalis said.


Trocki-Videll responded.


“Hammonton Gardens owns the building; they’re just renters ... if they don’t renew their lease, and they move out, then they move out,” he said.


During the presentation, Roesch said that the property currently has access to 12th Street, and that the proposed plans call for extending a driveway to allow an additional access point on Commerce Way.


Roesch then described the stormwater management for the project.


“We have three sets of basins: one in the front that is going to handle the new parking for the clubhouse, the main basin towards the middle portion of the property that will handle all new runoff for the majority of the property, and a couple small ones in the very back along Commerce Way that’ll handle Commerce Way and the grass areas,” Roesch said.


Roesch said that the rear portion of the property is “probably 20 or 22 feet higher than Commerce Way.”


“We have a pretty good slope up the new driveway going down there, but those little basins back there will handle that,” Roesch said.


During discussion, Commissioner Amy Menzel inquired about drainage calculations, and Roesch described the features of the plan.


“What we have is some bioretention systems in between a couple of buildings, and behind Building 4. That will handle runoff from the roofs, and what those are is shallow basins that will have vegetation and can handle moisture more. In the bottoms is more of a topsoil type of mix, rather than a sand bottom—which will be on the other basins,” Roesch said.


Roesch noted that the smaller basin near the proposed clubhouse will handle “extra runoff from the clubhouse and parking spaces.”


“Any discharge from this basin, as well as the other one, will go in the direction that it presently goes; this area currently overflows to the parking area and will continue to do that at less rates than the runoff presently is,” Roesch said.


Roesch said that the basin in the rear of the back of the property will discharge over land in the direction of Commerce Way. He noted that, during two-year and 10-year storms, the rate of runoff will be greater than what is currently there.


“Presently, all this is wooded and has very little runoff. I was able to capture as much as we possibly could from the roadway to these basins, but, unfortunately, because it is so steep the last 50 or 60 feet goes uncontained from the road out. There was no way to get it into the basin, contain it and discharge at a slower rate,” Roesch said.


Roesch said that, in accordance with new regulations, the plans include electric vehicle charging stations.


“I believe it’s 15 percent of car parking, so we provided charging stations for 42 vehicles throughout the site. There’s a schedule to follow to be installed; I believe it’s a third at the beginning, then another third three years after construction and then another third three years after that,” Roesch said.


Commissioner Dr. Michael Hozik noted that the development review did not include an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which Walters addressed.


“That was one of the requirements that was made as part of the settlement in the affordable housing litigation. It’s a cost-generative feature, and that requirement was waived for this project because it’s an affordable housing inclusionary project,” Walters said.


Councilman Jonathan Oliva confirmed that statement.


“That was corroborated with [town solicitor] Mike Malinsky, as well,” Oliva said.


Walters said that the applicant submitted their plans to the planning board in November of 2021.


“We received an incomplete determination in December, and we resubmitted back to them in February. We’re waiting for a complete determination to move forward,” Walters said.


Walters said that the plan before the Environmental Commission was the current plan.


The commission voted to approve the plan and send their recommendations to the planning board.


In other business, Bachalis addressed the dedication by rider resolution.


“This is something that the commission has been asking for for a number of years. A resolution which will authorize the town to request the Division of Local Government Services and the Department of Community Affairs in Trenton to approve a dedication by rider, so that any fines that are levied and collected for illegal tree removals be provided for the Environmental Commission’s use for education, for professional services from a certified arborist and the like—and other uses within the commission’s mission,” Bachalis said.


Bachalis told Oliva that he could provide a current copy of the resolution so that it might appear on town council’s agenda.


“I could send you a new copy. If we could get this approved at the April meeting, or by no later than the May meeting,” Bachalis said.


Oliva said that he had already provided a copy of the resolution to Malinsky.


“I have not followed up on the topic, but I will, now that I know,” Oliva said.


Bachalis said that he would also send Oliva a resolution regarding Arbor Day.


“That will be timely, because Arbor Day is April 29. The council meeting is on the 25th; we’ll be picking up trees to distribute to third-graders in our schools, so if we could recognize Friday the 29th as Hammonton Arbor Day—and maybe we could even get the Tree City flag up on the poles that day, maybe for a week or so, that’d be great,” Bachalis said.


Oliva said that he would “happily get that on the agenda.”


The commission also entertained the following tree removal permits:


• Anthony Molino, 310 S. Chew Rd. Six trees, five replacements. Dead or dying.


• George Worrell, 350 Maple St. Two street trees, two replacements. Replacing sidewalk.


• Christian Bethmann, 166 Maple St. Two trees, one replacement already completed. Dead/dying, danger to children.


• John Benedetto, 9 Samantha Dr. Thirty trees, replacements to be determined. Solar ground installation, children’s play area, possible swimming pool.


• Zachary Brown, 136 Front St. One tree, no replacement. Presents danger to neighboring structures.


• Kelin Jimenez, 591 N. Third St. One tree, no replacement specified. Too close to house.


• Jack Rehmann, 431 Bernshouse Ave. One tree, no replacement. Limbs fall on pool filter and neighbor’s garage.


• John Tomasella, 830 S. Second Road. One tree, no replacement. Dying, bark falling off.


• Anibal Garcia-Hererra, 430 N. Chew Road. Two trees, no replacement. Dying, bug infested.


• Tim Wyer, 251 Kath Ave., Perth Amboy. Trees located at 616 Wilbur Ave. Two trees for removal, one street tree for trimming, no replacements. One tree dying, one tree overgrown, street tree overhanging limbs.


The first nine permits were approved. The tenth was approved in part, with one tree being denied.


The Hammonton Environmental Commission meets on the second Wednesday of each month. Their next meeting is scheduled for May 11 at 7 p.m.