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Land Use Committee Still Under Review in Montville

Township committee members unsure whether having a Technical Review Committee examine land use applications would shorten the process.

The installation of a new land use subcommittee is under consideration by Montville officials, but township committee members are unsure whether having a Technical Review Committee for land use applications would lengthen or shorten the development process.

Discussion on the Technical Review Committee began earlier this month after Mayor Tim Braden brought the recommendation for its creation from the Land Use Advisory Committee, a group that includes members of the township's land use boards, before township committee members. Braden said that the Technical Review Committee was presented as potentially being able to shorten the application process for developers looking to build in Montville.

But at the Jan. 15 meeting, when township committee members discussed creating a Technical Review Committee again, some members had concerns.

"I just see this as adding another layer on to what is already an onerous process," Committeeman Jim Sandham said.

Sandham said that having the Technical Review Committee involved could add time to an already at-times long process. But Braden explained that the purpose of the Technical Review Committee would be to advise applicants of items their applications are lacking or would not be approved before they reach the land use boards.

"The idea behind this is to make sure that all the t's are crossed and i's are dotted when the application comes before the planning board," he said.

As an example, Braden said that if the township's code did not allow wooden street lamps but an applicant included the lamps in their application, the Technical Review Committee would be able to advise them to remove the item from their application before approaching the board. But Sandham said the township hires professionals currently to do technical reviews.

Committeewoman Deborah Nielson said she supports the idea of a Technical Review Committee, but agreed with Sandham that the professionals are responsible for reviewing technical items in applications. She also said she feels that if such a technical review is not being completed by the professionals, they should be held accountable.

Commiteeman Scott Gallopo said he wanted more information about the need for the Technical Review Committee.

"I'd like to have a feel for how many applicants had to come back because of a technicality," he said.

Braden said he would reach out to Montville Planning Board Chairman Gary Lewis to see if he could speak more about the Techical Review Committee and its purpose at the township committee's next meeting.

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