The borough will proceed with caution when considering a proposal for a new 191-unit luxury apartment complex the Carlstadt-based company Russo Development wants to build on Island Road, Mayor Chris Botta said at a Mayor and Council meeting held last week.
“I have some concerns about this development,” Botta said. “This would be a major development in Ramsey.”
The plan being proposed, according to Ed Russo, President and COO of Russo Development, includes the multifamily apartment unit and seven single-family homes along Ferguson Place.
In plans submitted to Ramsey Zoning officials in August, Russo describes the apartment building as a four-story building over a covered parking lot. It would house 51 one-bedroom apartments, 105 two bedrooms, 16 two-bedrooms with a den, and 19 three-bedrooms. The design would be “luxury” and would include a private pool, landscaped courtyard, clubroom, fitness area and management office.
The seven homes along Ferguson Place would make residential lots of vacant property currently used as part of Ramsey Lumber, the proposal said.
According to Russo, the firm chose to build on this property because of its proximity to Route 17 and the Ramsey Train Station. “Many residents in today’s market desire new housing that is close to transit (particularly mass transit) because of the lifestyle and commuting benefits that it provides,” Russo told Patch. “Our vision is to create a high quality, luxury development with extensive landscaping and amenities that will not only benefit future residents of the community, but also provide a needed housing type for the current Ramsey community. We feel our proposed development is the most beneficial and suitable use for the property.”
In order to build the proposed development, Russo will need to apply for several variances from the borough Zoning Board, hearings on which Botta said will be scheduled for future zoning Board meetings. The mayor’s concern about the development, he said, is that its proposal came without warning to borough administration.
“We were given no notice that this major proposal was coming…and then the [developer] had the gall to send out notices about the development to residents who live by the train station without any comment to the mayor, council, building department or anyone at the town,” he said last week. “I am very disturbed by that.”
According to Russo, he did send a letter to residents within 200 feet of the proposed development, inviting them to a preliminary meeting at the Holiday Inn on Route 17 next Wednesday to explain to locals his company’s plan. He called it a “community outreach” meeting.
“Community outreach meetings are relatively common and are a good opportunity for residents to obtain detailed information on a proposed development [and] ask questions or raise comments/concerns regarding a project in an informal setting,” Russo said. He added that the meeting is “no substitute” for the pending public hearings on the project and said he encourages residents to attend those as well.
Botta said he would be investigating the development proposal and would give another report on it at the next council meeting, scheduled for next week.