Long Hill Zoning Board Approves Columbarium Project

The Long Hill Zoning Board meeting concluded with the approval of an application for the construction of a columbarium on Long Hill Road. The project, which seeks to provide a consecrated and permanent place for ashes as mandated by the Catholic Church, involves the creation of 270 niches in the initial phase and a total of 846 niches. Despite concerns from residents regarding environmental impact, visibility, and future expansion, the board voted in favor of the inherently beneficial use of the site.

Central to the meeting was the detailed presentation of the columbarium construction plans, which outlined the layout, the phasing of construction, and mitigation measures for water runoff. The project’s timeline anticipates starting construction in the spring, with the potential for the full completion to span several years or even decades. The first phase involves the installation of two walls accommodating 174 and 96 niches, respectively, and six columbariums with 96 niches each in a circular area.

Residents raised questions about the clarity of the project’s phases and the potential construction of additional niches beyond what was presented. The board clarified that any further construction beyond the approved phases would necessitate a new application and public notice. Concerns were also voiced regarding potential environmental impacts, particularly concerning drainage, privacy, and liability issues. In response, the project’s engineer presented plans for two ADA parking spaces, concrete walkways, and measures such as the use of dry wells to manage runoff effectively.

The height of the columbarium walls, approximately 7 to 7.5 feet, was discussed, with assurances given that the structure would not be highly visible from public roads. The landscaping plan aims to preserve existing trees and incorporate additional vegetation to maintain the site’s serenity. The board discussed the use of dry wells, additional trees for screening, and compliance with state-mandated septic system setbacks.

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Questions were raised about the project’s impact on the surrounding area, including noise, lighting, and the potential intrusion onto neighboring properties. In particular, concerns about water runoff and the project’s proximity to an existing leech field were discussed, with the board and the engineer considering measures to mitigate any adverse impacts.

One resident highlighted the need for accountability in planting trees and the potential removal of a gravel driveway to improve water runoff. The board emphasized that the final plans would need to include conditions set by the board and would require approval before any construction could proceed.

The meeting also addressed the possibility of the church expanding services to include funeral services, prompting inquiries into the church’s original intent to serve migrants and the affordability of the funeral services. There was discussion about the need for a business plan and the potential impact on the neighborhood.

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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.

Mayor:
Guy Piserchia
Zoning Board Officials:
Edwin F. Gerecht, Jr., Tom Grosskopf, Jerry Aroneo, Jessica Brennan, Gary Gianakis, Tom Flatley, Jonathan Rosenberg, Randall Watts, Meredith Crawford Collins, Debra Coonce (Board Secretary/Planning & Zoning Coordinator), Steven K. Warner, Esq. (Board Attorney), Elizabeth Leheny, Pp, AICP (Board Planner), Joe Vuich, Pe, Pp, CME (Board Engineer)

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