Conditions on Route 528 highlighted in plan for apartments in Jackson

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JACKSON – The Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment is expected to continue hearing testimony on June 5 regarding two applications that could bring almost 200 apartments to West Veterans Highway (Route 528).

The two applications that propose 192 apartments have been submitted by Ira Port and Alan Cohn. The board is considering both applications at the same time.

One application seeks a use variance from the zoning board for a 29-acre tract on West Veterans Highway in a Neighborhood Commercial (NC) zone. The property has an existing diner.

The applicant proposes to construct 112 apartments and 23,000 square feet of commercial space. The application proposes 84 two-bedroom units and 28 one-bedroom units in seven two-story buildings. This site was referred to as Parcel A during testimony at a recent meeting.

The second application seeks a use variance from the zoning board for an 11-acre site on West Veterans Highway in an NC zone. The property is partially improved with a 14,500-square-foot commercial building.

The applicant proposes to construct 80 apartments and 7,000 square feet of new commercial space. The application proposes 60 two-bedroom units and 20 one-bedroom units in five two-story buildings. This site was referred to Parcel B during testimony.

The zoning board’s attorney, Sean Gertner, said the two applications are being heard at the same time because the proofs that are required to obtain a use variance are substantially similar. The parcels are not adjoining lots.

Attorney Kenneth Pape, who represents the applicants, asked traffic engineer John Rea to describe the characteristics of Route 528.

“This is a minor arterial road under the jurisdiction of Ocean County. In this general area the road has a relatively level and straight alignment. There are some horizontal curves, but they are fairly mild, so the sight distance is good along this stretch of the road, and there is a 35 mph speed limit posted in front of the Switlik Elementary School, which is on the opposite side of the road from a portion of this property,” said Rea, who was testifying on behalf of the applicants.

Rea said county approval would be needed in conjunction with the applications, but said he did not foresee a problem with obtaining approval.

“For the variance plan that is in front of the board this evening, we will generate 182 driveway movements (total in and out movements) during the morning peak hour. The permitted use plan (commercial uses that would be permitted at the site without a variance) would generate 286 driveway movements,” Rea said.

Gertner asked Rea to clarify the traffic by the separate lots.

“The combination for both lot 3, and lots 6 and 7, the variance plan will generate 104 fewer peak hour traffic movements during the morning peak hour and 82 fewer traffic movements during the afternoon peak hour, and it will be proportionally split between the development on lot 3, and lots 6 and 7,” Rea said.

Pape asked if Route 528 was designed to handle the anticipated number of vehicles the two proposed projects would produce.

Rea said the road was designed to handle the volume, but said he needed to elaborate on that point.

“In the traffic impact analysis I performed, I did make two recommendations which I would make whether we were in front of the Planning Board with a permitted use (on the properties) or in front of the zoning board seeking a use variance,” Rea said.

He recommended that Route 528 from Don Connor Boulevard to the applicant’s easterly property line on lot 3 be re-striped for a two-way left turn lane in the median “to serve some of the existing driveways in the area, one of which is the municipal building.”

Rea’s second recommendation was to slightly modify the timing of the traffic signal at the intersection of Route 528, Don Connor Boulevard and Leesville Road.

“The southbound Leesville Road left turn onto eastbound Route 528 is a fairly significant and heavy left turn,” he said. “We would recommend a slight timing change to increase the available green time for the north-south movement, which is Don Connor Boulevard and Leesville Road.”

Some board members raised the issue of pedestrian traffic, specifically teenagers and younger children who would be crossing Route 528 to get to and from nearby parks.

“I think the most logical thing would be a crosswalk that would have lighting beacons … that could be activated by a pedestrian crossing the road,” Rea said. “We could go to the county and request (that).”

The two applications proposing the 192 apartments were carried to the zoning board’s June 5 meeting.