UPPER FREEHOLD – The first phase of a project to expand a church on Yardville-Allentown Road has been approved by the Upper Freehold Township Planning Board.
On Feb. 8, board members granted approval to Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church for the first phase of a redevelopment project to construct new facilities. Attorney Dino Spaddacinni presented the application.
Citing a conflict because they are members of the church, the board’s chairman, Douglas Raynor, and board members Richard Stern, Jim Rosenbauer and Patricia Dorey stepped down from the dais.
The application was heard by the board’s vice chairman, David Holmes, Mayor Stephen Alexander, who sits on the board, Township Committeewoman LoriSue Mount, who sits on the board, and Zoning Board of Adjustment members Paritosh Desai and Alfred Mottola, who were brought to the Planning Board for the hearing to provide a quorum.
The project will predominantly take place at 1282 Yardville-Allentown Road, which the church owns and where it is located. The property consists of 19 acres and contains a church, a rectory, a religious education center, a parish office, two garages and parking.
The proposed project will extend to 1276 Yardville-Allentown Road. That 2.2-acre parcel is owned by 1276 Yardville-Allentown Road, LLC, and contains a two-story house and a storage barn.
St. John’s Church intends to use the combined 21 acres to build a 19,311-square-foot parish family center, a 6,835-square-foot assembly hall, a 17,233-square-foot church with a 625-square-foot bell tower, a 4,919-square-foot columbarium (space for the public storage of urns containing the remains of deceased individuals) and a courtyard.
The project will be conducted in four phases. The first phase, which the board approved, will include the development of the parish family center, parking, lighting, landscaping and storm water management and drainage facilities and driveway access from 1276 Yardville-Allentown Road.
The second phase will include the assembly hall. The third phase will include the new church, bell tower, parking and a storm water basin. The fourth phase will consist of the columbarium. Representatives of the church will return before the board for approval of the subsequent phases.
The driveway access from 1276 Yardville-Allentown Road was originally planned as part of the second phase, but was moved to the first phase of development at the request of the board.
The Rev. Brian Woodrow, the church’s pastor, and Spadaccini testified that the entire project could take seven to 10 years to complete, with the first phase possibly being completed in one year.
Woodrow said the project will be beneficial for the community and is intended to increase space for church staff and parishioners. He said the current church has reached its maximum capacity. The existing church will not be demolished, according to the reverend.
After Spadaccini agreed to add the driveway at 1276 Yardville-Allentown Road to the project’s first phase, Holmes, Alexander, Mount, Desai and Mottola voted yes on a motion to approve the first phase of the church’s project.