Proposed Psychiatric Facility's Size Cut Significantly

Neighbors are concerned about impact of 56-bed building planned for Route 206.

A hearing will continue in December on a plan to build a 56-bed extended care psychiatric facility near the intersection of Route 206 and Somerville Road.

More than a dozen Flanders Drive residents came to the Planning Board on Thursday evening to ask questions and express concerns about the plans by Harding Corona LLC to build the facility that is now less than half of the size that was originally proposed in January 2011.

Jessica Sweet, attorney for Harding Corona, said her client will meet with neighbors before the Dec. 6 meeting to answer their questions and listen to their input.

The testimony on Thursday focused on the project’s engineering on the 8.9-acre site in the township’s Highway Service zone just to the south of Doctors Way and north of where southern portion of the Route 206 bypass will begin. The testimony about the operations of the facility will be presented at the December meeting.

In January 2011, Dr. Henry Odunlami, a Bridgewater psychiatrist who is still involved in the project, came before the board to ask for conceptual approval for a 73,000-square-foot psychiatric facility .

However, the revised plans now call for a 34,115-square-foot facility that will be housed in five buildings–two residential buildings with 56 beds, an administration building, a recreation and dining building and an activities building.

The site is currently occupied by a home and a detached garage, said project engineer Michael Ford. There also used to be a Christmas tree farm on the lot, he said.

Bisecting the northern part of the property is a tributary to the Royce Brook. Ford said the presence of the brook means the applicant will have to receive approval from a slew of government agencies, including the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Somerset County Planning Board and the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission. The stream also limits where the buildings will be constructed, he said.

The facility will have 42 parking spaces; the original plan called for 94 spaces. Ford said the parking will be located at the rear of the facility because that is what the township’s zoning ordinance calls for.

A 75-foot buffer of evergreens will separate the facility from the neighboring residential properties to the south and east, Ford said. A berm and a fence will also be constructed, he said.

Stormwater will flow through a detention basin and a rain garden to the brook, Ford said.

Flanders Drive resident Joanne Dipietro, who said basements in her neighborhood already flood, asked Ford what will happen if the stormwater plan doesn’t work and the flooding worsens in her neighborhood.

But Planning Board Chairman Steven Sireci Jr., noting the property is lower than the Flanders Drive lots, said the water will not go to the residential properties.

“You cannot violate the law of gravity,” he said.

The plan calls for the facility to have 210 percent impervious coverage on the lot, Ford said. The maximum allowed is 60 percent.

Dipietro also said the neighbors, who received notice of the meeting and the proposal last week, did not have sufficient time to study the plans and develop questions.

The state Department of Transportation will have to approve the placement of the facility’s driveway. When the Route 206 bypass is completed, Somerville Road will end in a cul-de-sac.

The state is also planning to widen Route 206 to four lanes at the proposed entrance to the facility. Because the highway will have a concrete barrier separating the northbound and southbound lanes, only right turns will be allowed in and out of the facility, Ford said.

BDVideo October 05, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Did I read that right? 210% impervious coverage? Is that possible?
Concerned Citizen October 08, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Expect the crime rate to escalate as teen drug addicts escape facility looking for their next fix. Car windows, basements, any access to property for a quick snatch and grab is on the chopping block for your community. A residential area is no place for a drug rehab center and extended care facility!
danielle October 09, 2012 at 01:38 PM
fear of psych patients again! , perhaps they are voluntary and no need to "escape"
Concerned Citizen October 25, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Committed drug addicts are not voluntary psychiatric patients. They are a danger to themselves and those around them. They do not belong in a residential neighborhood.


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