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.
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