White Beaches’ Oradell Development Faces Tree, Water, and Zoning Challenges

At the recent Oradell Planning Board meeting, a proposal by White Beaches Realty Corp for a development on Valerie Place, associated with the White Beaches Country Club, emerged as the focal point of discussion. The development is a continuation of an ongoing narrative involving rezoning disputes and legal battles between White Beaches and the city.

Initially, the Valerie Place area was zoned for townhouse projects. Engineer Michael Hupchman highlighted that these properties now fall under an R2A zone after the rezoning resolution and subsequent litigation. The current blueprint showcases three residential lots, with ambitious plans to extend Valerie Place and implement drainage and infrastructural enhancements. One substantial design challenge is the 48-inch water transmission line running through the property.

The board also scrutinized the soil-moving phase integral to the project. Approximately 2,699 cubic yards of soil would be excavated to make way for house basements. Although early water filtration models involved tree-like structures, this idea was shelved due to expected maintenance challenges. The revised plan proposes seepage pits, anticipating that road runoff would benefit the adjoining golf course. These homes could span 4,000 to 5,000 square feet.

Environmental considerations were not overlooked. Board members were assured the development site did not encompass specific habitats or pose threats to endangered species. Interestingly, a rare eagle sighting occurred nearby. The site’s on-premises fuel tanks, consisting of a diesel tank, a gas tank, and a waste oil tank, underwent rigorous evaluation. A licensed well, replenishing a pond on the golf course, was identified on the property.

However, concerns about stormwater management related to the proposed subdivision took center stage. With the golf course’s future actions possibly affecting stormwater flow, it raised red flags for some attendees. Furthermore, concerns surrounding the absence of drainage on a curbed street were accentuated by the large water pipes in the vicinity. Nonetheless, one attendee mentioned the area had historically resisted significant flooding even during intense rainfalls.

Water drainage, especially concerning the flow to Oradell’s property, was a recurring topic. It was clarified that runoff from the proposed roadway would be directed to a pond on the golf course land, strategically placed away from nearby residences.

Tree removal also saw considerable debate. A total of 21 trees are earmarked for removal, but in a commitment to sustainability, 32 new ones will replace them, adhering to the Borough Code. The board emphasized liaising with the borough’s arborist about the tree species to be planted. The project’s construction timeline remains undefined, with lots planned to be sold as “fully approved developable property.”

A major point of contention was large tree removal. Interestingly, the current property owner has no intentions of tree removal, deferring this responsibility to future developers. This places a significant onus on prospective buyers to respect environmental considerations. The core objective of the White Beaches application was outlined as setting lot boundaries, not necessarily land clearing or construction. Existing infrastructures like fences, wells, and oil tanks will also fall under a future developer’s jurisdiction. The board has retained the right to impose conditions on this development, with the authority to reject proposals not resonating with prior stipulations or community aspirations.

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