MAHWAH, N.J. — The Mahwah Planning Board on Monday approved an application by Ridgewood Real Estate Partners to build 34 single-family, $1.5 million homes on the Apple Ridge Country Club.
The 110-acre project spans Mahwah and Upper Saddle River.
Upper Saddle River officials last month approved the developer's application to construct 44 homes, bringing the overall total in both towns to 78.
The state Department of Environmental Protection will certify that the property surpasses its standards amid concerns over minor contamination of lead and arsenic, Mayor William Laforet told Daily Voice.
The contamination dates back to the early 1900s, when the land was being used as an apple orchard and the chemicals were applied to the trees.
"Lead and arsenic are not grounds for denying the application," Laforet said.
The contaminated soil will be blended with clean soil to mitigate the problem, he said.
"[The chemicals] are solid, stable, and don't leach anywhere," the mayor said. "A huge rototiller will come in and blend 3-4 feet of earth to meet DEP standards.
"They'll then stabilize that acre, test it, and move on to the next."
Cleansing the area also means that nearly every tree will have to be removed. Approximately 1,000 new legacy trees will be replanted, Ridgewood Real Estate Partners President Jonathan Grebow told Daily Voice.
"We will be able to save trees on the southern boarder of the Mahwah property," Grebow said. "We will begin once the snow melts in 2016."
Township officials considered buying the land and operating it as a golf course but decided that wasn't in the best interest of the taxpayers, the mayor said.
"This application and method of remediation first of its kind in Mahwah," Laforet said. "The planning board did a very good job of helping everyone understand exactly what was going to happen... and as a result, I think we end up with a very good product."
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