Collum: Orange Lawn and Neighbors Close to Agreement on Proposed Development

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The Orange Lawn Tennis Club and neighbors have reached a “good faith” compromise on the development and rezoning of the club’s property, said South Orange Village President Sheena Collum at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday night.

In February, the Board of Trustees introduced an ordinance to approve a redevelopment plan that would have allowed for the development of 22 townhouse units in 11 structures on the lower 5 acres of the Orange Lawn property, while rezoning the remaining 11 acres of the property for private recreation, single family homes or townhouses — should the property be sold and developed in future.

Orange Lawn club leadership contended that the density of development and zoning was not only allowed by law but necessary for the future financial viability of the club. Neighbors and other South Orange residents said that the density of the proposed development, though allowed by current zoning, was out of character with the neighborhood and would negatively impact property values.

Although the South Orange Planning Board found that the plan is consistent with the town’s Master Plan, the ordinance was tabled in April due to neighbors’ strong opposition to the project and proposed rezoning.

“We’ve made pretty substantial progress,” said Collum on Monday, who explained that the new proposal dropped the number of units on the lower 5 acres from 22 to 20 and the number of structures from 11 to 10 (the original proposal called for 30 units on the 5 acres). She also said that the compromise entailed rezoning the upper 11 acres to a density of no greater than single family detached housing.

Collum said that the Township had heard residents “loud and clear.” However, she noted that lowering the density on the developable property was “not something a property owner would willingly jump into.”

In order to make the compromise, Orange Lawn was asking for “accessory use of a bubble over the tennis courts in the center of property to be used over the winter months…. A lot of residents seemed inclined to support this with controls,” said Collum, explaining that hours and months of operation of the bubble would be strictly negotiated and enforced.

Collum noted that the proposed zoning would “return it to what it was previous to 1992.”

“I’m hoping by May 23 to have an ordinance to re-introduce,” said Collum. “I’m pleased to report that.”

Village Green has reached out to the neighborhood point person on the negotiations for comment but has not yet heard back.

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