Manchester Mayor Michael Fressola and the Planning Board are implementing changes to land use that will ultimately transform the pattern of rural life here in Manchester Township. Developers are pressing to alter existing land use zoning in order to build large commercial projects and multi-family residences and it appears they may be getting their way. Although, there is significant opposition from township residents impacted by these changes.
Residents of Whiting, in the western part of the township, voiced concern that amendments to the township’s master plan allowing multi-family and cluster development will alter their rural “way of life”. The residents that spoke in opposition also expressed their concern for the impact on the natural environment near their homes. In spite of the opposition, the Planning Board voted unanimously to approve the changes.
Nowhere in the township is the opposition to zoning changes more intense than what has been generated by the proposed $25 million dollar nursing facility near the intersection of Routes 70 and 571. On two different occasions hundreds of residents opposing the project have packed the Planning Board meeting room and forced the hearing to be rescheduled to a larger venue.
Many residents feel that Mayor Fressola has not “reached out” to those taxpayers that have legitimate concerns that this facility should not be built in an area of the township zoned residential. The opposition to this project includes a coalition of residents comprised of both young and old, united by a common desire to protect the peace and tranquility of their neighborhood. The 1,036 concerned residents that signed a petition to stop the granting of this variance and presented to Mayor Fressola cannot be ignored.
The simple fact is that no one is entitled to a land use variance, but residents that pay their taxes and support their community do have the right to protect the peace and tranquility of their neighborhood.
The good residents of Manchester move to this community for a variety of reasons, some because they are escaping traffic and congestion, others move to Manchester because of the advantage of being able to live in a rural area and yet have easy access to shopping and recreation nearby, but whatever the reason, Mayor Fressola must realize that amending the master plan for the township means tampering with the fundamental reasons people choose to live and raise their families in this community. Once a community makes fundamental changes, such as altering residential to commercial zoning, you cannot go back and change what has been done, you cannot go back and retrieve the rural lifestyle you gave away.