myCentralJersey.com

April 2, 2010

By JARED KALTWASSER STAFF WRITER

North Brunswick zoning vote will put transit village on track to start construction

NORTH BRUNSWICK —The Township Council is slated to introduce a zoning ordinance Monday that would allow construction of a transit village on the former Johnson & Johnson site at Route 1 and Aaron Road.

The introduction is slated for 7 p.m. Monday at the township's municipal building, 710 Hermann Road. If approved, the ordinance would be up for a public hearing and final adoption on April 19.

Mayor Francis "Mac'' Womack said he believes the township has completed a thoughtful analysis of the project over the past few years and is now prepared to move forward.

"I'm proud of the process,'' he said. "Every time it seems that we've gotten a little ahead of the public, or that we're concerned that people who are paying attention to what goes on might not be fully up to speed, we've stopped and slowed down.''

The 58-page zoning ordinance is an attempt to tightly control the development of the transit village. The 212-acre former Johnson & Johnson tract is currently zoned I-2 for industrial use. That zoning designation would remain, but the ordinance would create a zoning overlay that permits phased construction of the mixed-use development under a timeline set forth in the ordinance, said Michael C. Hritz, the township's director of community development.

The ordinance would give developer North Brunswick TOD Associates approval to construct the transit village's first phase right away. Phase One includes box stores and restaurants, the first block of the development's mixed-use Main Street, and a total of 300 residential units. But the linchpin of the ordinance is that it would not allow the full build-out of the transit village until construction on the development's key feature … a new NJ Transit train station along the Northeast Corridor line … begins.

"The second phase of development is triggered by an actual groundbreaking for a rail station,'' Hritz said. "So a rail station would have to be approved and funded and construction would have to be under way in order to trigger the second phase of development.''