Flemington Planning Board Weighs Variance for Day Program Facility

In a recent meeting, the Flemington Planning Board delved into a detailed examination of a proposed variance application for a daytime community inclusion program for developmentally disabled adults. The proposed facility, which would operate a day program from 9 am to around 3 pm, Monday through Friday, has generated discussions regarding its necessity, the public interest it serves, and its potential impact on the community.

The applicant, represented by the principal of Golden Heart, Bar Langan, and a real estate agent, presented the program as inherently beneficial. Langan emphasized the program’s approval by the Division of Developmental Disability and its focus on community engagement. The board considered the applicant’s testimony and supporting documentation, which outlined an operational plan involving up to 28 clients, a staffing ratio of one counselor to every five clients, an on-site behavioralist, and an on-site manager. The transportation logistics, which included several minivans for client and staff transport, sparked questions concerning parking needs and traffic impact.

Public comments raised during the meeting echoed concerns about transportation and traffic, as well as the potential commercial use of the property within a residential area. The board also reviewed floor plans and the interior of the space, with attention given to the existing wheelchair-accessible ramp and no need for exterior improvements.

Discussions extended to site conditions, with the board and professionals addressing the use of barrels as barriers, the presence of trailers, and landscape upgrades. The board considered the existing space’s layout, including the break room and a shower, and the potential use of dumpsters for tenant trash disposal. An expert planner provided analysis emphasizing low traffic generation and minimal parking requirements, while also noting the property’s green manicured lawn.

The necessity of the day program facility was a focal point, with the proponents highlighting a lack of similar services in the area and several individuals in need. The board engaged in discussions on the balancing test, evaluating the positive criteria against any potential detrimental impacts. Security measures, licensing, and inspection by the state, as well as operations during inclement weather and state holidays, were also topics of inquiry and discussion.

The inherently beneficial nature of the adult daycare facility was debated, with some board members supporting its classification as such, akin to assisted living and childcare facilities, while others questioned the law’s intent and the gap in recognizing certain facility types. The board moved to close the public hearing, leading to general discussion on the negative aspects of the plan and further deliberation on the balancing test, specifically whether the proposed use would substantially detract from the zone plan and public good.

Additionally, the board touched upon a resolution to guide potential ordinance changes based on granted variances, the completeness of applications, and the creation of checklists for variance-only applications. A discussion centered on the proposed checklist format for use variance applications.

Other topics included code enforcement, property maintenance, and the formation of committees, along with logistical considerations such as compliance with prior approvals, property owner responsibilities, and the loss of a community food pantry. The meeting also anticipated future agenda items and addressed the ongoing budget review, especially expenses related to the planning board.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Marcia A. Karrow
Planning Board Officials:
Michael Campion, Adrienne Fusaro, Todd Cook, Jeffrey Doshna, Karen Giffen, James Hill, Bryan Cimino, Hannah Weitzman, Milissa Swingle, Rose DiMario, Don Eckel, Dennis Schoeb, Eileen Parks (Secretary), Robert Clerico/Van Cleef Engineering (Engineer), Kara Kaczynski (Attorney), Elizabeth McManus (Planner)

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