South Orange Trustees Approve Orange Lawn Tennis Club Redevelopment Plan

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The South Orange Village Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Monday night to approve an ordinance for the redevelopment and rezoning of Orange Lawn Tennis Club.

(The vote was 5-0. Trustee Howard Levison was absent due to the death of his son-in-law Joshua Allen.)

The tennis club and developer BNE Real Estate can now move forward with a plan to develop the lower third of the Orange Lawn Tennis Club as 20 units of town house development.

The decision comes after more than a year of complaints by neighbors, meetings, revisions and negotiations, resulting in a scaled-down proposal from 30 to 20 units in the new development, and rezoning of the upper 11 acres of the property to a density of no greater than single family detached housing. In exchange for agreeing to rezone its property for lower density development, Orange Lawn negotiated the right to operate a tennis bubble at the center of the property during winter months.

The historic club had argued that, without the ability to sell off the lower five acres to BNE for development, the club’s financial woes would necessitate shutting down and selling off the entire property, which, as of right, could then be developed as 105 units of housing.

But that scenario has not come to pass.

Several elements of the approved proposal still need to be ironed out in the site plan approval process, said Village President Sheena Collum on Monday night, including issues related to access and parking on Redmond Road.

However, she said, the town, the club and the developer would work closely with neighbors. Collum noted that the enlarged role given to neighbors in shaping the project was not one that was legally required but that it was one that the town found necessary in moving this project forward and could serve as a model for other developments in town.

Clearly, neighbors of Orange Lawn were appreciative of the Village President’s approach, as well as improved relations with the tennis club due to the work of  club liaison Steve Hertz.

Said one neighbor, “Thank you so much for all your time and all your work. I especially want to thank our village president because she has been amazing.” The neighbor cited numerous phone calls, letters and meetings with Collum (one meeting took place just last week at The Baird). “I ask that you maintain the vigilance that you’ve shown thus far. Keep up the great work that you’re doing.”

Even neighbor Anne Wessel, who tearfully noted that her property would be negatively impacted even with the improved scenario, was appreciative of Collum’s approach. “We need you to work hard to protect us, the only losers in the project,” Wessel told Collum.

Later, Collum responded to Wessel directly, saying that she too wished that there would only five single family detached units constructed on the lower third as opposed to the approved 10 structures with 20 units. However, she said, the current zoning and the “time of application” rule passed by the state legislature had tied the town’s hands with regard to the development of the property.

“I understand your frustration,” said Collum. “I take it personally how upset you are.”

Collum added, “It’s the best that we could do. We are going to work hard to make sure we mitigate as much as possible on your property because you are going to be bearing the brunt.”


Read more about the Orange Lawn Development Plan:

Town Addresses Overflow Parking at Orange Lawn; Village Trustees to Vote June 27

Forest Road Residents Protest Orange Lawn Parking Proposal

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

South Orange Moves Ahead with Plan for Orange Lawn Townhouse Development

South Orange Planning Board Rules Orange Lawn Plan Consistent with Master Plan, Neighbors Disagree

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