31 January 2012

Spacious Country Living at Majestic Knolls

Looking for "spacious country living" circa 1992?  That's what led us to look into Majestic Knolls twenty years ago this Spring.

Newspaper ad for Majestic Knolls development in Hillsborough, NJ, 1992

This may have been the place we ended up if I hadn't remembered that there was one more development somewhere over on Beekman Lane that I wanted to check out.  Back then, Triangle Rd. was still a triangle, only extended slightly past what we now call South Triangle Rd., to allow access to Majestic Knolls.  Beyond that was a barricaded dirt road - which lead to the still gravelled Auten Rd.

Circa 1992 map of Hillsborough, NJ.  Click for a larger view.

Happily for us - and unluckily for the salespeople at Majestic Knolls - the map they provided showed us the way around to Beekman Lane via South Triangle and New Amwell.

30 January 2012

Hillsborough Village, 1975

I'm still looking for these original ads for Hillsborough's housing developments.  If you think about it, nothing has shaped the look of present day Hillsborough more than the residential construction that took place from 1955 to 1995. 

Hillsborough Village ad from a 1975 newspaper.
Or look at it this way: the "1975 Hillsborough" was vastly different from the "1955 Hillsborough", but the "2011 Hillsborough" isn't much different at all from the "1991 Hillsborough".

19 January 2012

Right Place? Wrong Time!

There's only one reason 469 apartments, 130 hotel rooms, and 20,000 square ft. of retail space is not suitable for the 50 acre site on the northbound side of Route 206 just south of Valley Road:


Make no mistake, this is what it all hinges on.  Don't wander off into other arguments - stick with this.

And the soon (ha!) to be completed 206 bypass is only going to make things worse.

Let's break it down point by point:

  1. Traffic northbound between Triangle Rd. and Brown Ave. is already a mess during rush hour. 
  2. There is a plan to widen 206 through this stretch - but no funding is identified, and no firm commitments have been made to begin work.
  3. There are currently 8 traffic lights between the Montgomery-Hillsborough border and Triangle Rd.  These lights have the effect of metering northbound traffic.  When the bypass is completed, there will only be two lights (Hillsborough and Amwell Roads) causing traffic to speed quickly northbound into the nightmare.
  4. The applicant (Route 206 Enterprises, LLC) is expecting minor improvements to Route 206 along their frontage to include a center left turn lane, for access to both their development and United Rent All across the highway - we know how well those work!
  5. Even if the center lane could be made to work acceptably, that solution is only applicable BEFORE work begins to widen 206.  When that work begins, all bets are off, as the road will need to be kept open while work is going on - a completely different operation than what is taking place now on the bypass - and no doubt as is typical in this kind of project the road will be reduced to a single very narrow lane in each direction.
  6. The eventual widening of the highway in this area will be a long difficult project - not only will the road need to stay open, but there is a railroad bridge to replace, streams to be dealt with, etc.
We must conclude that no additional development take place at that location until ALL of the improvements to Route 206 - the bypass and the widening - have been completed.  At the very least, hold off construction until the bypass is completed (next year?) so we can see what effect all of the additional northbound traffic will have on the Triangle to Valley stretch of highway.

As I said in my previous post, I am not automatically opposed to development of this type, or even to development at that location.  But just because this may be the right place, doesn't mean it's the right time.

18 January 2012

Green Village, Vulgar Appendage?

"Green Village"?  Really?  Does Route 206 Enterprises LLC, the developer looking to build 469 apartment units, a 130 unit extended-stay hotel, and two 10,000 square ft. retail buildings on a 50 acre property directly across the highway from United Rent-All, not realize that one of Hillsborough's most notable housing developments, Village Green, is barely more than a mile away on the same highway?

Village Green, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, was the first post war housing project in New Jersey to employ a design where instead of, for example, a 100 acre lot being filled with 100 homes on 1 acre lots, the 100 homes would be built on only half of the site, the other half being left as open space for passive and active recreation.

This first of its kind design is known as a cluster development.  I might also be inclined to use the word cluster to describe the current proposal by Route 206 Enterprises, but I would be forced to append a vulgarity not suitable for all readers of this blog!

Naming conventions aside, this proposal is flat out too much, too soon.  Whether it's builder's remedy lawsuits, fear of future litigation, or COAH obligations that is pushing this monstrosity along, someone has to stand up and say, "stop".

As long as Hillsborough remains a very desirable place to live, people are going to want to build here.  And this might even be the perfect spot for this project....but not in 2012, or 2015, or 2018.  Why do I say that?  Read tomorrow to find out.

14 January 2012

Gay Marriage Bill a "Top Priority"?

Did I read this right?  Did Senate President Steve Sweeney say that sending Governor Christie a gay marriage bill would be a "top priority" in the new legislative term?

It was just about two years ago that the state legislature failed to pass just such a bill.  At that time, I wrote why I thought the current civil union law made no sense, and why a gay marriage law would be just more of the same.  You can read that post here.

But that's not the real story.

The real story is why anyone in Trenton would think a bill like this would be a top priority?  Let's face it, with New Jersey's unemployment rate still hovering around 9%, gays can no more afford to get married than anyone else!

Mr. Sweeney, before you completely fill your head with images of gays and lesbians walking down the aisle, why not reach across the aisle and put a few tools in Governor Christie's oft-mentioned property tax relief toolbox, or do something to help New Jersey businesses grow?

Now is the time to prioritize actions that will help 100% of NJ residents, not a bill that will leave 96% scratching their heads.