Donald Trump will have to wait a little longer to see if Bedminster officials will go along with his proposal to establish a cemetery at his Trump National Golf Course where he can forever stake out his last piece of real estate.
The Land Use Board on Thursday asked Trump's representatives to return to the Bedminster Township Committee to present a revised proposal to increase the size to nearly 3 acres capable of holding more than 1,000 cemetery plots, an increase from the 548 spots initially proposed.
Board attorney Thomas Collins Jr. also suggested that before proceeding further the board first might want clarification from the governing body on whether a cemetery can be considered an intended use under the environmental easement placed on the golf course property back in 2005.
Trump would like to set aside a small piece of land, about one-eighth of an acre, on the golf course property off Lamington Road where ultimately he can have his final resting place, according to Ed Russo, speaking on behalf of Trump National after Thursday night's Land Use Board meeting.
"He [Trump] owns a significant amount of property throughout the entire world, but this is his flagship facility. It's his masterpiece," Russo said.
"He loves Bedminster," Russo added. Trump, 66, was not at Thursday's meeting.
But while the ever-active Trump may someday want to be laid to rest under a tombstone in a location at the golf course property that wouldn't be seen by the public—with the intention of sharing that .12-acre site with family members—the billionaire also wants to extend the offer to join him in a nearby cemetery to lifetime members of his club, Russo explained.
The combined sites of about 2.9 acres, with only about half of that to actually be set aside for potential development with cemetery plots, could conceivably hold up to about 1,024 graves, according to the information presented to the Planning Board.
But Russo said after the meeting it is unlikely that anywhere near all those spots ever would be filled. He said the club has about 350 lifetime members, and loses about one per year to death.
Russo added that much of the total acreage would be set aside for roads and buffers from the rest of the property.
Even so, part of the reason Trump's application stalled before the Land Use Board on Thursday was the change in his proposal from August 2011, when the Township Committee fulfilled a state legal requirement to give conceptual approval to plans for a sixth cemetery in Bedminster.
The plan presented then to the Township Committee called for 1.5 acres to be set aside, with the maximum number of graves set at 548, according to information from Joel Kobert, attorney for Trump National.
Mark D'Angiolillo, an attorney for neighbor Sassona Whittle, raised the question of whether the change in the proposal would require a revisit before the Township Committee. He also explained later that his client has other concerns, such as whether another cemetery is needed in Bedminster.
Collins patiently explained that the board could have chosen on Thursday to begin the hearing that night on the application, which calls for both preliminary and final approval, and also a zoning variance for use.
The board attorney specified that he feels the board was within its rights to hear the entire case, and to grant conditional approval to the proposal.
The Trump representatives said that with a number of witnesses and details, the application hearing could be expected to take some time, certainly more than one meeting.
But especially with some members present, Kobert made the offer that the Trump representatives could present a 20-minute summation of the plan, and then later approach the Township Committee.
But the Land Use Board largely agreed with member Finn Casperson, who said, "Let's work it out with the Township Committee and then we will be off to the races."
The board rescheduled the next hearing on the application for its meeting at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8.
After the meeting, Trump's representatives said they will seek to approach the Township Committee as soon as possible.
Russo, formerly project manager for the golf course, said that the Trump National Course based in Bedminster dates back to 2004. He said that after a few heart attacks, he also has thought about his final plans, and said he intends to be buried in the section of proposed Trump cemetery that would be set aside for non-family members.
This was not the first time that Trump had indicated his personal affection for Bedminster. His daughter Ivanka's wedding was held at the Trump National club in northern Somerset County in 2009.