The Morris Township Planning Board unanimously approved a zoning ordinance on Monday night to allow to use its property for mixed-use redevelopment.
The ordinance, which was crafted after more than two years of meetings and changes in the master plan to develop the Fortune-100 company's 147-acre site, is now referred to the township committee for Wednesday night's meeting.
The board member and township Committee Member H. Scott Rosenbush said he expects the township committee to introduce the ordinance Wednesday night.
This zoning ordinance approval comes shortly after the on June 7. The amendment allows residential use and development on the company's property. It calls for the development of 235 houses that would take up 53 acres—just a little over a third of the total space—and an office and lab work space.
The plan was originally going to also allow a continuing care facility, but the board removed the proposed development in May.
The ordinance was drafted because the master plan cannot be developed first without a zoning ordinance and only passed by the township committee.
"Because of the level of detail and depth and the amount of time the planning board has spent on it, we asked the planning board to draft a zoning ordinance for consideration by the township committee," Rosenbush said.
Residents part of the part of the Citizens for Better Planning in Morris Township (CBPMT) are such as traffic and open space, and plan to attend the future meetings to voice their opinions.
After a nearly three-hour meeting on Monday night going through the 18-page zoning ordinance drafted by the township’s Technical Coordinating Committee, board members discussed with the township engineer Jim Slate and the TCC about the land use on the property, and came up with new ideas, such as allowing different kinds of design in the townhouses.
An issue brought up about the zoning ordinance was the problem with affordable housing, and the state's requirement for providing low and moderate housing. For the 235 townhouses that are planned to be added on Honeywell's campus, Morris Township needs to figure out how many of those homes need to be considered low and moderate, which is up to the state to decide and is pending a decision from the state Supreme Court.
Another suggestion brought up at the meeting were the uses of new lights, such as LED bulbs. The board originally took recommendations about lighting from an old ordinance, so they want to make sure they have the newest technology to apply to the redevelopment project.
If the ordinance is introduced Wednesday night, the township committee will announce the public hearing dates for the zoning ordinance. There is no public comment period at the time of introduction, but community members will have the opportunity to comment or question during the public hearings, which would begin in August.
To view the full ordinance, visit the township's website.