Sunday, August 05, 2007

Redevelopment - Ledger- Flemington developer wants project rezoned

Published in the Star-Ledger, Friday, July 13, 2007

Developer looking to rezone his townhomes
Wants age restrictions cut in Flemington

Star-Ledger Staff

Citing a downturn in the real estate market, the owner of a Flemington property zoned for senior living is asking the borough for a change.

Dennis Gabinelli hopes the planning board will rezone the 2.7-acre Allen Street properties so he can make the units available to the general public.

"There is interest," he said, "just not by people who are eligible."

Approved for the project in 2005, Gabinelli completed 16 of 22 planned units and so far all of them are empty.

People age 55 and older are eligible to purchase the properties, according to the zoning rules.

The plan calls for 14 two-bedroom townhouse units priced starting at $350,000. There are also four one-bedroom units that start at $220,000. Four units are to be designated as affordable housing, with a price around $80,000.

The board was scheduled to hear Gabinelli plea on Wednesday night but continued the matter to their next meeting on July 24.

Should the board side with Ga binelli, they would need to find new places in town to meet the state's affordable housing standards.

"If the units were no longer affordable units, however, then Flemington would have to provide alternative units," said Chris Donnelly, a spokesman for the state department of community affairs.

Gabinelli's attorney, Julie Goldstein, dismissed questions that opening the units up to the general public could potentially bring new families to town who would use the borough's already overcrowded school system.

"By design, by price, these are not the types of properties that would appeal to people with school-aged children," said Goldstein.

Sue Bennett, an Allen Street neighbor, said she would just like to see the units filled.

"It's too bad seniors are not staying to be close to their children," she said. "But, we don't want to see them empty."

Following the meeting on Wednesday night, Gabinelli walked through the model unit at the complex, a town house appointed with hardwood floors, stainless steel ap pliances and cherry wood kitchen cabinets. He would like to sell to seniors, he said, but no one is buy ing. "I don't want to give this to the bank," he said. "I need help."

John Holl may be reached at or (908) 782-8326.

Link to online story.

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Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.