Planning Board Tackles Fellowship Senior Living Modifications

During the recent Bernards Planning Board meeting, significant time was dedicated to discussing the Fellowship Senior Living Incorporated’s request for modifications related to their ongoing project. The board deliberated on extending the timeline for obtaining a permanent certificate of occupancy for the fitness center and walking trails. Additionally, the meeting addressed landscaping issues, fence concerns on the property, and the upcoming public meeting to further discuss these matters.

Fellowship Senior Living’s attorney presented their case to the board, explaining the circumstances that led to the request for an extension. The fitness center, which had commenced construction within a year of the resolution, was nearing completion. However, due to delays, they were unable to obtain the permanent certificate of occupancy within the initial deadline. The attorney cited timing issues and sought an extension from the board.

The discussion then expanded to the walking trails, which faced their own set of challenges. Permits from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the township committee were necessary, and the process had been lengthier than expected. The general permit 17 from the DEP took two years to be issued, which set back the project timeline. The applicant also sought modifications to an existing conservation easement from the township committee and requested additional time to obtain the construction permit for the walking trail. This request was not isolated to the walking trails but also included other project elements such as a dog park, pickleball court, and parking lot modifications.

In parallel, landscaping became a central topic of conversation. The applicant had submitted plans to the landscape committee but was now faced with the issue of replacing dead trees. The landscape committee was firm on the need to address these vegetation concerns.

The most debate arose over the fence on the south side of Fellowship’s property. Concerns were raised about significant gaps between the fence and the grading of the land. The resolution was to hold a public meeting on March 19th to further discuss the landscaping issues, including the fence concerns.

In another development, the board approved a motion to modify condition 15 of an unspecified nature after a roll call vote. This motion’s details remain unclear, but it was one of the actionable outcomes of the meeting.

Affordable housing was briefly mentioned, with a suggestion for board members to review a segment of a previous Township Committee meeting where it was discussed.

The board also addressed administrative matters, including a resolution to enter a closed session to deliberate on personnel issues. There was a mention of appointing a board planner and seeking a firm for special projects and master planning support. The minutes from this closed session were decided to be part of the public meeting minutes.

Before concluding, the board tackled the issue of the Bank of America National Association’s preliminary and final site plan application. Several board members recused themselves from the hearing, resulting in the lack of a quorum. This prompted a creative solution, with the board deciding to enlist support from the zoning board to proceed with the application.

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.
Jennifer Asay
Planning Board Officials:
Kippy Piedici, Kathleen Mastrangelo, Paul Damurjian, Tyler Seville, John Crane, Gary Baumann, Daniel Eorio, John Ladyzinski, Lauren Manduke, Nicholas Cuozzo, Jonathan Drill (Board Attorney), Bryce D. Good (Board Engineer), David Schley (Township Planner), Cyndi Kiefer (Board Secretary)

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