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Thursday, July 25, 2024

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Smaller Rio Victorian Village ok’d

By Al Campbell

That was only the beginning of the project, to be built on Railroad Avenue in Rio Grande on land formerly operated as Rio Grande Concrete.
It was granted a use variance, since it straddled Restricted Industrial and Suburban Residential zones.
It also required a height variance for 64 feet where 35 feet is allowed.
Dissenting on both variances were Arthur Cornell and Dennis Anderson.
Juliano offered to eliminate 90 units, 10 from each building, after learning from Rio Grande Fire Commissioner James Neill that the original 75-foot height surpassed the firefighters’ equipment capabilities.
“I’m still willing to work with the fire department to get the apparatus they need,” said Juli-ano.
“I want you to understand, I hear all the folks out here,” said Juliano after opposition to the pro-ject was voiced by six of eight members of the public who spoke.
Vilma Pombo of Swainton testified she supported “cleaning up of the site.” She took issue with the statement that the average resident in those apartments would walk to the Grande Cen-ter to do most of their shopping.
“They will go somewhere else, golfing, to the doctor’s and for entertainment. There is going to be additional traffic, and it’s already congested down there,” Pombo said.
“We are opposed to this project,” said Sam Kelly, also of Swainton. He spoke as head of the Middle Township Taxpayers Association.
“I ask you to vote no,” he  said.
Kelly said that, while the project may not add the expense of schoolchildren that would be countered by “an absolute burden on senior services, which are the fastest rising costs in the na-tion today.”
Kelly cited planned yet similar age-restricted homes development within close proximity to Juliano’s project.
 “This is not the right project. If not ill conceived, it’s certainly ill timed,” Kelly added.
“What’s going on? Doesn’t anybody see or care what happens in Rio Grande?” asked John Candidi, also of the taxpayers group.
“No one is asking residents if they mind or don’t mind,” said Candidi, of
Shannon Oaks. He said he had trouble getting onto Route 47 from his community when traffic backs up in the summer. He feared more when all senior projects are completed.
Residents were told the bypass road that will link Route 9 to Route 47 via Railroad Avenue, and pass the entrance of the project, would be built regardless of approvals for Rio Victorian Village.
Sandra Frazier of Holly Drive told the board she felt it was “running before walking. You have no idea how much traffic congestion there will be.”
“You need to see the impact of the other two projects before this,” she added.
“It is a traffic problem regardless of what facility might be there,” Neill testified.
Trying to get a fire truck on the road, when traffic is gridlocked, is “a nightmare,” said Neill.
Since the project will have a dual sprinkler system, which aids in high-rise fires, Neill said fire-fighters’ concerns involved rescuing seniors in apartments higher up.
Rio Grande’s largest aerial truck extends 75 feet, said Neill.
Juliano cited high land acquisition costs as a reason he sought to go up, not out, with the facil-ity.
Juliano said Atlantic City Electric wants $1.5-$2 million to relocate the high-tension lines near the project.
“I’ve been in Middle Township for five years,” said Juliano, “I own 32 properties. Have some faith in me, too. I would always go by what someone asked. I think we have done a remarkable job working with the community and everybody, all these different masters.
“I don’t know a better use for this. Have some trust in me,” Juliano said.
Contact Campbell at (609) 886-8600 Ext 28 or: al.c@cmcherald.com

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