In Ocean: Hearings Continue on Plan for 75 New Homes


coaster-news-200-newBy DON STINE

Testimony continued May 23 at the Ocean Township Planning Board meeting on a proposal to build 75 single-family housing units on an 80-acre tract at the intersection of Green Grove Road and West Park Avenue.

Toll Brothers, based in Horsham, Pa, is seeking approval to build the 75 upscale, age-restricted homes on the site, which is the former Apple Farm property on the south side of W. Park Ave., west of Route 18 and diagonally across from the township’s Intermediate School.

The application is for preliminary and final major subdivisions and site plan approval with variances. Monday was the second meeting on the project with the next meeting date yet to be announced.

Originally, Toll Brothers had proposed two options for developing the site: a 114-unit project with 20 percent of the units designated for affordable housing; or a 102-unit development that would include a $2.6 million commitment to the township’s affordable housing trust fund.

Mayor Christopher Siciliano said that he negotiated with the company to reduce the project to its current number of units and make it age-restricted. He said the company is now contributing $1.8 million to the township’s affordable housing trust fund.

“We were able to negotiate it one-on-one and reach a compromise to get the most reasonable project. We were able to work it out and it should have no impact on the school system,” he said.

Township residents, however, are still concerned about the project and about 30 turned out for Monday’s meeting. Traffic, which is already congested in this part of the township, remains a big concern and nearby homeowners worry about the affect the project will have on their properties.

Jennifer Krimko, attorney for the applicant, said the developer has been meeting with nearby homeowners and is attempting to address their concerns, particularly regarding buffering, storm water, dust during construction and other matters.

“We are in agreement with some homeowners and some we are not. We will present revised formal engineering drawings at the next meeting to the board that will attempt to address the concerns of residents and the board,” she said.

Out of the 80-acre tract, only 24 acres will be used for the development with the rest of the property, comprised of woods and wetlands, left pretty much undisturbed.

However, about 2,000 or more trees will be removed from the property and local environmental groups have raised some concerns.

The executive committee of the Jersey Shore Group of The Sierra Club is recommending that an independent groundwater hydrological service conduct a groundwater survey to determine which direction the water will go and the possible impacts once the tress are removed.

“The Sierra Club recommends that full tree counts be conducted and that no tree waivers are permitted. The Sierra Club sees the potential loss of these 2,115 trees as environmental degradation and recommends significant preservation of mature trees and all lost trees be paid for in full,” the club said in a prepared statement.

According to the statement, a large oak tree can transpire 40,000 gallons a year from groundwater.

“This site has 2,115 trees in total. Millions of gallons of previously naturally recharged ground water will flow instead into retention basins if these trees are cut. The fact that the developer plans to divert all of this storm water to retention basins raises concerns about the risk of flooding at the nearby Intermediate school, Route 18 and the adjacent township recreation facility, which has had past flooding issues. The Whale Pond Brook watershed is very close to this property and there is already a flooding problem on that watershed,” the statement said.

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