By DON STINE
Ocean Township officials recently took the first step to purchase a former office building, off Wickapecko Drive and adjacent to the William F. Larkin Golf Course. The current owners had recently proposed to create a day care facility there.
“We are very excited about how this all came together and about getting enough money to do something credible and really make a difference in the township,” Mayor Christopher Siciliano said.
At the Sept. 14 Township Council meeting, the governing body passed a resolution authorizing the township to execute an agreement to purchase 1001 Wickapecko Dr, which is before the zoning board to use the facility as an adult medical daycare facility- a move that has concerned nearby residents.
“(Purchasing the building) is something we have been quietly working on for a while and trying to get funding that will not affect the taxpayers,” Siciliano said.
He said the 10,000-square-foot building will then become a part of the township-owned William F. Larking golf course, in the Wanamassa section, and serve various needs in the township.
“It is right next to the golf course and can be used for various recreational needs, classes, and many other reasons. You can use it indoors when it rains; it has many uses,” he said.
Siciliano said that the privately-owned building, set on a little more than an acre adjacent to Deal Lake, is now listed at $595,000.
He said that the township is prepared to provide to close to $500,000 to purchase the property using money from a developer’s impact fee imposed on an additional 85 condominiums being added to the Nobility Crest project in the Wayside section. The impact fee is created when a developer cannot provide recreational uses on their own site.
“They have no on-site recreation projects there so this money can be used toward an existing recreational facility, like the golf course. So, it is a good deal to grab the building,” he said.
Siciliano aid that the remaining amount toward the purchase price will be paid off through grants.
“We don’t want this to have any impact on taxpayers and, from the township’s recreational perspective, this is a winner,” he said.
He said township officials may consider putting a small restaurant in the building, which would help generate some revenue.
“It would close at 8 pm, when the golf course closes, and would be a source of revenue to the township,” he said.
The mayor said that many residents believe the current proposal for a day care fcility for the site is “an overuse and not too popular.”
An application has been filed with the Board of Adjustment by Lakeview Adult Medical Center LLC seeking a use various to allow the day care facility at 1001 Wickapecko Dr. The center is not a permitted use in the zone
The 1.3-acre site has always been zoned for single-family, residential use only but variances have been granted in the past to allow for offices in the one-story, 9,460-square-foot building that has been there for decades.
In addition to the use variance, the applicant is seeking to restripe the existing parking area to allow for buses to both park or to drop off and pick up clients and for a 26-square-foot illuminated sign to face Wickapecko Drive. The applicant estimates that the facility will serve up to 200 clients a day during morning and afternoon shifts.
Opponents to the application maintain that there is no turnaround space for the buses on the site and that they will be forced to backup.