CHESTERFIELD, NJ -
E&E Landscaping was looking for a variance on the property called "Block 700". They were looking to build a wedding/corporate event venue in the area of land across the street from Fernbrook Farms. This application was denied tonight by the Planning Board of Chesterfield Township.
The applicant stated at the Planning Board Meeting on Tuesday night that they would estimate there would be 2 events per week, occurring from 7 to 11pm, with 3 bathrooms in the building. A possible temporary tent would be used for outdoor events. Dumpsters would be present on the grounds.
The applicant said he would also live on site.
One of the downfalls of the applications was the testimony by the audio tester. This man was hired by E&E Landscaping to perform audio tests in the lot, as requested by the Planning Board. He tested the audio levels of ambient noise, as well as when music was playing.
However, not only did he not do what was asked of the board, he also did not follow NJ standards for audio testing, as pointed out by a board member. He tested for ambient noise while a chainsaw was running in the background. He was supposed to recreate the audio levels of a wedding and test the decibels. He only set up one speaker and tested with that. According to NJ standards for audio testing, he was supposed to test for 1 to 2 minutes, and he estimated that each test was about 35 seconds.
About 40 minutes into the audio testers testimony, a board member stated that it was invalid. During the meeting, WBNC asked if the board would be more satisfied with the audio testing if they had hired a 3rd party instead of one hired by E&E, and the board and E&E both declined to answer.
Community members filled the Chesterfield Fire House (the change of location due to people), and most that spoke during the public comments portion were concerned about noise. People in houses near Fernbrook Farms, which holds weddings, said their house already shakes with the music, and if this new venue would be allowed, they would be "sandwiched".
The other issue brought up was the legality. Is it legal for the board to award this company a use variance to build a commercial venue on protected farmland. The board acknowledged this and said they would hear the rest of the testimony, that way, if it was brought to a court, they would already have the testimony on the books, and potentially not have to start all over again.
We have video and audio coverage of the meeting, including the full testimony from the audio tester, and the man explaining what the grounds would look like, as well as many of the community's questions, and will post that as soon as we can, along with a podcast episode with interviews.
A request for comment from E&E Landscaping was not immediately returned.
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