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Home for Disabled is Coming

HOPEWELL VALLEY NEWS article – John Tredrea – Staff Writer – Thursday, January 21, 2010


A four-bedroom group home for the developmentally disabled is being built in a scenic, rural corner of Hopewell Township with the help of two nonprofit organizations – one that helps the disabled and one that preserves land in its natural state.

The four units will be applied toward the township’s compliance with the state mandate to provide housing for low-and moderate-income residents. That mandate is monitored by the state Council on Affordable Housing.

The home will be on a 1-acre tract on the western side of Harbourton-Rocktown Road or country Route 579. The site is north of county Route 518 and just south of the Hunterdon County border.

The township has invested $250,000 in the project. None of that money comes from local taxes, township officials said. It all comes from affordable housing fees collected over the years from developers.

Work on the project has been ongoing for nearly five years, said Paul Pogorzelski, township administrator and engineer.

The Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, a key player in many open space preservation projects for more than 20 years, purchased a 30-acre tract that includes the 1 acre slated for the group home. The township purchased that 1 acre, which includes a farmhouse and two barns, for $200,000.

“Consideration was given to restoring the farmhouse and using it as a group home,” Mr. Pogorzelski said. “However, the magnitude of repairs necessitated their demolition.”

The township then reached out to a number of non-profits that advocate for the developmentally disabled, ultimately contracting with Community Options ( to construct the four-bedroom home.

The township deeded the property to Community Options at no cost and has contributed $50,000 toward demolition costs. Initial site clearing has been completed. Asbestos shingles on the structures have been removed in compliance with state regulations.

The smaller of the two barns will be moved to a neighboring farm, said architect Kevin Wilkes, of Princeton Design Guild, which is designing the group home and overseeing the demolition of the three existing structures.

The smaller of the two barns will be moved to a neighboring farm. The house and large barn will be dismantled piece by piece. Most of the wood – about 90 percent of it – will be saved and sold to individuals and organizations that are rebuilding historic structures.

“We hope to start construction this summer,” Mr. Wilkes said at the site Jan 14. “It should take about 10 months to finish the project. We hope to have the occupants moving in by the summer of 2011.”