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Hearing Not Yet Scheduled for Large Ridge Road Development

Developer expected to seek a variance to develop 500 age-restricted homes on a 177-acre parcel at the former site of the Wyeth Pharmaceuticals facility.

A hearing before the South Brunswick Zoning Board for a 500-home adult community on Ridge Road has yet to be scheduled, but concerns remain about the potential impact to the township.

Ridge Road Properties, LLC, is seeking a variance to develop 238 age-restricted multi-family homes and 270 age-restricted single-family homes on a 177-acre parcel in an OR zone. The large housing complex is proposed for the former site of the Wyeth Pharmaceuticals research facility. 

"All I know is that there's a developer who wants to purchase the property, and from what I can tell he wants to knock down the existing buildings to put up 500 homes on that property," said Mayor Frank Gambatese. "To me that's going to be a tough sell to the board. That would involve knocking down three huge buildings that bring in a lot of revenue."

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals was purchased by drug giant Pfizer Inc. in late 2009. Soon thereafter, Pfizer announced the closing of Wyeth’s 354,500-square-foot research facility on Ridge Road, a move that eliminated 450 jobs. The facility generated approximately $1.6 million in tax revenue for the township during its final year of operation, according to the South Brunswick Tax Assessor’s office.

"Pfizer pays well over $1 million a year in taxes for that building and property so we don't want to see that torn down," Gambatese "Whoever owns the property has the right to do that, but we would hate to see the loss of that kind of ratable. That would be heartbreaking. We would like to make sure Pfizer does everything possible to get a buyer in there to keep that building up."

With several other large adult communities in South Brunswick, Gambatese expressed concern over the impact another large development could have on traffic.

"Near that property on Ridge Road is another 250 homes on Schalks Crossing Road, and then there's 300 homes near Route 130 and Georges Road, so that's hundreds of adult community homes we're talking about," he said. "It's really a question of how many adult community homes do we need."

Because the Ridge Road property is zoned for office research, the developer would need to get the area rezoned in order for the project to be approved. The application was originally scheduled to be heard on April 10, but the developer hasn't filed any plans as of yet with the township's Planning Office, according to Gambatese.

"I'm not going to comment on whether this is a good or bad thing, but what they intend to put there, to me, is going to be tough to show as having a positive impact," he added. 

What are you concerns about this project? Tell us in the comments.

Winston April 25, 2012 at 10:26 AM
I predict this will be approved.....regardless of the devasting impact to the town. Unlike PIACS no one will care about traffic, safety, etc.
AM1968 April 25, 2012 at 12:34 PM
I worked at that bldg. for 20 years before it shutdown and it would be a shame to see it torn down.. Like Gambatese said, do we really need any more adult communities in our township?? Don't we have enough in the area? And of course that will bring in more traffic in an already conjested area of Ridge Road and who knows what else. It's an expensive bldg that they are trying to sell but hoping that some company/university comes in and buys the bldg along with the land. It really is a nice bldg inside! Would hate to see it torn down...
Concerned SB Citizen April 25, 2012 at 12:50 PM
This development SHOULD turn down. As is traffic is worst in the area and High School is nearby. Zoning need to think about high school kids as well as traffic.
Lisa Rodgers April 25, 2012 at 01:07 PM
The board turned down PIACS for traffic..the same should be done here. Ridge Road is a two lane rural road, it cannot handle more cars. Traffic is a mess now. Join us parents in the morning when we have to take our kids to school. The traffic is always backed up... The Zoning Board should vote NO and continue to help current taxpayers with rateables!
nancy wolman April 25, 2012 at 03:33 PM
NO MORE ADULT COMMUNITIES.....we have enough. Toll can't sell their units in Princeton Manor as it is. The traffic in the area around the Pfizer site is already horrendous....a housing development will create too much (more) traffic.
raymond Weis April 26, 2012 at 12:54 AM
I think there are a lot of things to think about on this issue. Number one five hundred private homes would generate at least a million and a half in property taxes. Number two the people in those homes would require a lot of municipal services. Number three they would generate more traffic in the area. Number four if we did manage to attract a new industrial entity for the property it would probably require some kind of tax incentive for a period of years. There are a lot of tough questions to be answered before any decision can be made and we have to consider all of them. There are no easy answers.
Winston April 26, 2012 at 03:32 PM
The board used the traffic as an excuse. The real reason...as we all know...was to protect the status quo and NJEA interests...and NOT traffic or anything to do with the kids!
Joe R April 26, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Excellent comments by Ray. I can't say the same for Winston, quite the opposite. The so called "status quo," which Winston mindlessly and robotically repeats ad nauseam, is the excellent SB school system, oh yeah that status quo. The status quo of good schools and good educational outcomes. Then Winston brings up his all time favorite boogey-man, the NJEA. The NJEA had about as much to do with the SB zoning board as Winston has to do with truth and rationality. Winston is rabidly anti-union and obviously feels that teachers are not entitled to union representation. Winston would be a happy camper in Colombia where union people are regularly assassinated for trying to form unions.

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