Developer proposes building 216 apartments in Jackson

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JACKSON – Testimony is expected to resume on Nov. 20 regarding an applicant’s proposal to construct 216 rental apartments in seven buildings at the corner of New Prospect and Larsen roads in Jackson.

The Jackson Planning Board heard testimony on the application during a meeting on Oct. 16. Highview Homes, LLC, wants to build seven three-story buildings, a 3,700-square-foot clubhouse, a pool and a picnic area on the 39-acre property in a residential zone.

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According to the plans, three buildings will contain one-bedroom apartments and four buildings will contain multi-bedroom apartments. The applicant is proposing 455 parking spaces.

Attorney Richard Hoff, engineer Joe Hanrahan, traffic engineer Karl Pehnke and John Abene, representing Highview Homes, presented the application.

“There will be on-site staff; we anticipate two maintenance persons living in the facility full-time, as well as having a management office in the clubhouse and potentially having a management person also living in the community, so the community itself will be staffed full-time,” Hanrahan said.

The apartment complex will feature security measures, including cameras set up in the vicinity of the clubhouse, according to the testimony.

Board member Andrew Kern said one location on the property holds local significance.

“There is a plaque, and it is not on your plans, but that (plaque marks) the highest point in Ocean County, so if you can find the plaque and keep it there and make sure it is there, that would be great,” Kern said.

Hanrahan said the county’s highest point will be maintained, although he said he was not certain about the location of the plaque Kern mentioned.

Board member Diana Brunner asked if the apartment buildings will have elevators.

When she was told the buildings will not have elevators, Brunner asked if the buildings will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The applicant’s professionals said the buildings will comply with the ADA.

Brunner noted there are 30 garage parking spaces shown on the plans and asked how they will be distributed. The applicant’s representatives said those spaces will be offered on a first come, first serve rental basis.

“Right now we are being asked to review this as an apartment complex that is going to be owned by one corporation that is going to have control of the whole property,” Brunner said. “I want to know if we can add deed restrictions saying that in the future this cannot become a condominium conversion (and units) cannot be converted to individual condos and sold.”

The board’s attorney, Greg McGuckin, said that restriction cannot be added if the board approves the Highview Homes application.

“The reason for my questioning about how garages are divided is because I assume there would be a monetary value attached to them and there would be additional rental income being received by the landlord,” Brunner said.

Township Councilman Ken Bressi, who sits on the board, expressed concern that if some of the apartments are counted toward Jackson’s affordable housing obligation, their possible conversion to condominiums at some point in the future could impact the township’s affordable housing obligation.

Bressi asked the developer for some sort of guarantee on that issue.

Hoff said there are at least 40 apartments that will remain restricted as affordable housing, meaning they will be rented at below market rates to individuals whose income meets certain guidelines. Testimony indicated the affordable housing units have not been designated at this time.

Brunner said she wanted the applicant’s representatives to understand the reasoning behind the questions she was asking.

“The reason I am questioning elevators and things along those lines, specifically in regard to affordable housing, is because I have a medical background. It has been my experience that sometimes people who are on disability or (have other issues) that would prevent them from affording a full (cost) rental, may need elevators … sometimes people are sick, they have breathing issues, they cannot get down stairs, and sometimes upper level units are very difficult to (rent) because people think about having to carry (packages) up and down,” Brunner said.

Abene said the second floor of a building is usually the last to rent.

“I have found that people like the third floor, and then the first floor and second floor fill in. Some people want the second floor so they can save on heat, but all the units will find somebody (and) people who have physical difficulties (can) get the first floor units,” he said.

Abene said there will be affordable housing units available on the first floor.

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