Will Morristown hospital plan for 52 new apartments hit dead end over cul-de-sac?

Willard Bergman Jr. and Phil Smith, representing developers affiliated with Morristown Medical Center, with plans for a new apartment building. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Willard Bergman Jr. and Phil Smith, representing developers affiliated with Morristown Medical Center, with plans for a new apartment building. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 

Plans for 52 new apartments across the street from Morristown Medical Center may hinge on ownership of a cul-de-sac.

A developer affiliated with the hospital wants the town to hand over ownership of Todd Place, a spur off Franklin Street that ends in a cul-de-sac within the Franklin Village apartment complex.

The transfer would give the AHS Investment Corp. enough acreage to build a 52-unit building without requiring a density variance from the town zoning board, Willard Bergman Jr., attorney for the project, said on Tuesday.

Only 33 units are allowed on the site as it’s now configured, said the lawyer, who briefly addressed the town council. The apartments would add about $100,000 in annual tax revenues to town coffers, Bergman said.

Municipal officials said they need more details.

“We need to do our due diligence on that road,” Mayor Tim Dougherty, who serves on the planning board, said after the council meeting.

White building represents proposed new apartments. It's bordered to the north by Route 287, to the west by Franklin Street, and to the south by Todd Place. Morristown Medical Center is across Franklin Street. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

White building represents proposed new apartments. It’s bordered to the north by Route 287, to the west by Franklin Street, and to the south by Todd Place. Morristown Medical Center is across Franklin Street. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The three-story building proposed for the corner of Franklin Street and Route 287 would house a mix of studio-, one- and two bedroom apartments.

At least 50 percent of the tenants would be hospital employees, as stipulated by a town ordinance that enabled the corporation to construct the 256-unit Franklin Village complex in 1994, Bergman said. More than half the residents there are connected with the hospital, he said.

The AHS Investment Corp. is a for-profit company affiliated with the Atlantic Health System, parent of Morristown Medical Center.

Some of the new apartments would be designated as affordable housing, he said. The town mandates that 12.5 percent of new projects be set aside for  low- and moderate-income tenants.

An application was filed with the town planning board in January, followed in February by a request to the council to “vacate” (transfer) Todd Place, said Bergman.

The Mayor said the planning board agreed the project would not proceed unless Todd Place was vacated–a decision for the council.

Council President Rebecca Feldman questioned whether closure of Todd Place would strain parking in a neighborhood already pressed for spaces.  She indicated that the council may seek recommendations from the planning board.

Although the town owns Todd Place, the hospital has plowed and maintained it, said town Attorney Vij Pawar.  So far, he told the council, there has been no discussion of the hospital buying the street from the town.

The developer had hoped to break ground in the fall, Bergman said.

Aerial view of Todd Place. Photo: Google Maps

Aerial view of Todd Place. Photo: Google Maps

 



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