Orange Lawn Neighbors Start Petition Against Proposed Development

by The Village Green
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A neighbor of Orange Lawn Tennis Club says this scan overlay of the proposed development was provided by BNE Real Estate Group.

A neighbor of Orange Lawn Tennis Club says this scan overlay of the proposed development was provided by BNE Real Estate Group.

More than 260 signatures have been made to an online petition opposing an ordinance that could pave the way for a town home development project on a parcel of land presently owned by Orange Lawn Tennis Club in South Orange.

The petition, titled “Oppose South Orange Development: Ordinance 2015-2,” had 265 signatories as of 2 p.m. on Feb. 19.

On January 12, the South Orange Board of Trustees voted to introduce Ordinance 2015-2. The ordinance, if passed, would allow Orange Lawn to subdivide its property in order to sell a parcel for development. The Board of Trustees is waiting on a recommendation from the Planning Board, which will be deliberating on the issue on March 2, to inform its discussion of the second hearing and final vote on the ordinance at its March 9 meeting. (The ordinance was to be discussed at the Feb. 2 Planning Board meeting and at the Feb. 9 Board of Trustees meeting, but both meetings were canceled due to weather.)

Orange Lawn Tennis Club, pleading financial difficulties, has proposed selling off a portion of its property to be developed as 27 town homes by BNE Real Estate. According to Peter Shapiro, a board member at Orange Lawn, “The development is made necessary because of the financial condition of the club. If the club were in sound financial condition, it would vastly prefer to retain the integrity of the beautiful historic property that has been its home for more than a century.”

However, Shapiro continued, “Without the sale, the club cannot survive. The sale will allow the club to extinguish its debt, and put it on a secure financial footing going forward.  Without the sale, the club will be forced to close, and to sell off its entire property for development. The choice comes down to this: develop a portion of the property and allow the club to continue as a historic South Orange institution, or close the club and develop the entire property. We would overwhelmingly prefer the first alternative. The interests of the club and of its neighbors are fully aligned in wanting to limit the impact of the development. We are committed to working with the community to do so.”

However, neighbors who have signed the petition do not agree that their interests are fully aligned with Orange Lawn. The petition summary reads: “We, the neighbors of the Orange Lawn Tennis Club, oppose the development of twenty seven (27) townhouses on a sloped four acre parcel of the historic Club. This dense development is out of character to the single-family detached neighborhood in which the Club sits and is inconsistent with the Village’s Master Plan. In addition, this development will lead to increased traffic and water runoff in the surrounding area. South Orange, by proposed ordinance, is facilitating this development unless we stop it.” (Read the full petition here or contact for more information.)

Joe Korb, a neighbor of Orange Lawn and an organizer of opposition to the project, said that “over half of the immediate neighbors to the club have signed with more coming.”

Korb also shared an overlay of the project that the developer has shared with neighbors (see above). “It shows how dramatically out of character the proposal is to the surrounding neighborhood,” said Korb. “If people are not joining the club now, why would anyone join after these would be built.” Korb also questioned how many members of Orange Lawn are local residents; he said that Orange Lawn would not provide the information.

Comments on the petition echoed Korb’s remarks, saying that the development will not match the character of the neighborhood and will further traffic issues on Ridgewood Road. Many felt that there must be better ways to deal with Orange Lawn’s financial crisis.

In a post on, local realtor Sarah Macyshyn voiced a concern that the development would negatively impact home values in the neighborhood: “Yes, I would like to see Orange Lawn thrive, but their financial difficulties are not the fault or responsibility of the people of South Orange. The proposal to change the zoning to allow inappropriate development, that would most certainly sacrifice values in the surrounding neighborhood can only be described as unfair and outrageous.”

The Village Green has reached out to BNE Real Estate for more information about the project. We have also contacted Orange Lawn to inquire about membership and finances. We have not yet received replies to our inquiries.

Full disclosure: The reporter’s husband recently became a member of Orange Lawn Tennis Club.

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