By KENNY WALTER
EATONTOWN — The owners of the Monmouth Mall will have another opportunity to present plans for a mixed-use expansion of the property after the council adopted zoning changes for the mall properties.
During the Sept. 14 meeting, the Borough Council adopted an ordinance that amends the zoning for the mall property, currently owned by Kushner Companies, which would allow a mixed-use development and up to 700 residential apartments.
The council adopted the ordinance with a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Anthony Talerico as the lone dissenting vote. The amended ordinance comes just months after Kushner presented and subsequently dropped plans for the mall expansion under the previous zoning rules due to intense scrutiny from residents.
Borough Planner John Maczuga said the zoning amendment eliminates some of the features from the previous plan and reduces some of the residential units allowed.
“Previously, hotels were contemplated at the mall site — it also included a rooftop golf training facility,” Maczuga said. “That has been eliminated as a permitted use in the zone.”
Maczuga said in the new ordinance 700 residential units are permitted on site, a reduction from the 800 units permitted under the previous zoning.
According to Maczuga, private and public schools, as well as churches and all houses of worship, are specifically prohibited in the zone despite being permitted uses in every other zone in Eatontown.
Other changes include increasing the gross leaseable space from a 7 percent maximum to a 15 percent maximum and a reduction in the affordable housing set aside from 15 percent to 12.5 percent. Maczuga said if the affordable units are constructed off site, there will be 100 units and if they are constructed on site there will be 88 units.
Mayor Dennis Connelly said the ordinance should address many of the concerns from residents.
However, many concerns were raised during the meeting, including crime, traffic, lights, usages on the property and the 24-hour nature of the proposal.
“I don’t believe that apartments belong in a retail complex,” one resident said. “Seeing it as a 24-hour center, to me it is a magnet for crime. Living close to that I don’t want to be a part of that.”
Another resident said the elimination of the hotel is not as big of an issue as the apartments.
“I really don’t think 700 apartments is a compromise,” the resident said. “Frankly, I’d rather have one hotel than 700 apartments.”
Another resident presented council with a petition with 251 signatures of residents opposing the zoning change.
Maczuga also said he expects the project, if built to capacity, to produce between 156 and 179 school-age children.
Despite the zoning now in place, Kushner Companies will still need to file a site plan and present testimony for any project to the Borough’s Planning Board.