Shot down on daycare, developers regroup with luxury apartment plan for Turtle Road in Morristown

Residents wait their turn to sound off about a proposed daycare center. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Residents wait their turn to sound off about a proposed daycare center. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Aiming to avoid another pitched battle, developers who lost a bid to build a daycare center  on Turtle Road met this week with Morristown residents seeking their blessing for luxury apartments.

Landlord Blake Silverman, center, and Rainbow Academy CEO Guy Falzarano, to his right, confer with lawyer Joe Sordillo. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Landlord Blake Silverman, center, and Rainbow Academy CEO Guy Falzarano, to his right, confer with lawyer Joe Sordillo (far left) during 2014 zoning hearing for a daycare center ultimately rejected for Turtle Road. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The new plans for “Turtle Road Commons” call for 46 units — 34 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom — on the same site where a proposed Rainbow Academy daycare center was rejected last year by the town zoning board, amid citizens’ concerns about traffic, noise and glaring headlights.

“I give them credit. This is such a more reasonable use,”  said Abby Moller, a resident of the neighboring Convent Mews condos.

She was among about a dozen area residents who accepted an invitation from the Silverman Group to attend an informal briefing at the law office of Porzio, Bromberg & Newman.

The developers will seek a zoning variance to exceed, by 10 feet, a 35-foot height restriction for the residential zone.

Plans submitted to the town also note that the developers will need variances for smaller-than-mandated parking stalls (nine-by-18 feet instead of nine-by-20), fewer of them (66, instead of 80.5 as required for a complex of this size), and impervious lot coverage that exceeds the maximum allowed (57.6 percent, when the limit is 40 percent).  The site occupies a vacant parking lot that is mostly paved.

If they obtain necessary approvals for the apartments, the developers indicated they will drop a lawsuit against the town over the rejected daycare center, Moller recounted.

Residents wait their turn to sound off about a proposed daycare center. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Residents line up, February 2014, to sound off about a daycare center proposed for Turtle Road. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The Silverman Group did not return a request for comment on Friday.

The suit contends that the developers were denied a fair hearing for the Rainbow Academy, alleging that the zoning board tolerated rudeness and stall tactics from residents. The developers also challenge a 2007 rezoning of the property from office/business to residential.

A 25,000-square-foot building, standing four stories including a ground-level garage, is proposed now, Moller related.

The project would include a small gym, a small outdoor communal area with tables and chairs, 60 covered parking spaces and another half-dozen outdoor parking spaces. Overflow cars would use the adjoining parking lot of an office building owned by the Silverman Group, Moller recounted.

Apartments would target successful singles and empty-nesters; monthly rents may range between $2,400 (one bedroom) to $3,200 (two bedroom), the developers said, according to Moller.

James Campbell, Morristown’s zoning officer, said the earliest likely dates for Turtle Road Commons to appear before the zoning board are in late April or early May.

 

 

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