East Brunswick’s future is bright, if we get the zoning right

As a business owner in East Brunswick, who also grew up here, I strongly believe that with proper zoning East Brunswick can continue its legacy as one of New Jersey’s premier communities.

Our politicians, however, have failed us.  Look at recently approved developments: The Golden Triangle; a Walmart Mega Store and dense four-story behemoth of an apartment complex and parking deck, perhaps the ugliest combination of structures ever built; and now the corner of Summerhill and Old Stage, where a new apartment complex and redundant retail stores (a bank and pharmacy?) will make a dysfunctional intersection, and worse, encroach on single family neighborhoods and the Frost Woods. Both of these projects required zoning changes that handed huge profits to developers.

Although Mayor Brad Cohen and the new administration have tried to improve things, little has been accomplished. It’s time for our politicians to take a look at the few remaining buildable sites and zone them appropriately.

As broker/owner of Davis Realtors, the leading independent Realtor in town, I believe in smart growth. I’m against the approval of more apartments. People who rent generally do not have the same commitment to their community as homeowners. That said, I recognize the need for continued growth, and the addition of new households, necessary for the revitalization of Route 18. We need more local shoppers, diners and customers.  Without a vital Route 18 corridor, and smart zoning, real estate taxes will continue to increase disproportionately.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment is considering an application for 34 townhomes to be built on Ferris Farms, a five-acre parcel on Cranbury Road (Route 535). The approval of this development would be great for the town. As I represent the sellers in this transaction, some may think I have a conflict. But, in this case, my interests are aligned with Ferris Farms as well as property and business owners in East Brunswick.

First, this project would provide much needed “work-force” housing for young professionals and empty-nesters. Secondly, it is the ideal location for townhomes, as it backs to Kingswood Station, a similar housing product. Simply put, it fits in with the neighborhood. Finally, these new homes will generate less traffic than the existing use, a busy garden center.

Other projects, recently approved nearby and in the same R-1 zone, include the Parc Chateau, a thousand-plus guest catering hall; a 108- room hotel and a 105-bed nursing facility. All had variances granted.

The current R-1 (rural residential) zone is not appropriate for this location. Ferris Farms is on a 50 mile per hour highway with infrastructure; water, sewer, gas and electric are readily available. In addition, it backs to a major condominium complex. Requiring the owners of Ferris Farms to sell this as three single family lots is nothing short of a land grab.

In addition, the guys at Ferris Farms have served our community for more than 30 years. Big box stores, like Walmart, make it impossible for them to compete. The approval of this smart development will allow the owners to move on.

The zoning board should do what’s right and say yes to 34 townhomes at Ferris Farms.

Stuart Davis

Broker/Owner of Davis Realtors

East Brunswick