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Development of five homes gains preliminary approval in Manalapan

MANALAPAN – The Manalapan Planning Board has granted preliminary approval to an application that proposed the construction of five homes in a new cul de sac that will intersect with Smithburg Road in the southern portion of the municipality.

Final approval for the project will be sought by the applicant at a later date.

During a virtual meeting held on May 14, board members heard testimony regarding Galloping Hills. Appearing on behalf of the applicant, PRC Development Company Inc., were attorney Peter Wersinger and professional engineer and planner John Vincenti.

Wersinger said the property where the five homes and one detention basin are proposed to be constructed totals 20 acres. He called on Vincenti to provide additional details for the board and its professionals, planner Jennifer Beahm and engineer Brian Boccanfuso.

Vincenti said the project is proposed in Manalapan’s rural residential zone on property that was previously owned by the Bulk family and used as a landscape nursery.

Boccanfuso said the homes are a permitted use in the zone, the lots conform to municipal regulations and the project will not generate a significant amount of traffic.

Vincentil continued his testimony by stating the PRC Development Company Inc. acquired the property, which has 1,200 feet of frontage on Smithburg Road, in 2016. Galloping Hills at Manalapan LLC is the contract purchaser.

The property on Smithburg Road where the five homes are proposed is 500 feet north of Route 537. There will not be any access to the homes from Route 537.

The minimum lot size for each home is 80,000 square feet (about 2 acres) and the application called for the land to be subdivided to accommodate the homes and the detention basin. Each home will be between 3,000 and 3,500 square feet, with a basement, and each home will be serviced by an individual well and septic system, according to Vincenti.

The homes will have between four and five bedrooms and a minimum two-car garage. Some homes may have a three-car garage. Each home will have a 140-foot-long paved driveway, according to Vincenti’s testimony.

Certain variances and design waivers related to the detention basin were sought by the applicant and approved by the board. Beahm said the relief being requested by the applicant was “minimal” and she offered no objection to the request.

The property to be developed is a short distance from a Quick Chek convenience store at the corner of Route 537 and Smithburg Road and in the vicinity of the Charleston Springs Golf Course in neighboring Millstone Township. Homes on Marylou Court in Manalapan back up to the property that will become Galloping Hills, according to Vincenti.

He testified that in planning the development, the applicant considered having the homes front on Smithburg Road and creating five driveways along the road, which is under the jurisdiction of Monmouth County (Route 527).

Vincenti said a decision was eventually made to construct the proposed 500-foot-long cul de sac and have all five residential driveways on the new road, instead of on Smithburg Road.

Vincenti said county officials discouraged having driveways on Smithburg Road and he called the proposed driveways on the new cul de sac a safer option for vehicles.

The board members and their professionals agreed that having the five driveways on the cul de sac was the preferred option for the homes.

Although county officials did not request a sidewalk on Smithburg Road, the developer proposed constructing a sidewalk on the road that will extend 400 feet north of the cul de sac (toward Randall Drive) and 350 feet south of the cul de sac (toward Route 537).

Board members accepted the proposal, although they noted the sidewalk heading south would not reach the Quick Chek at the corner of Route 537. They said the idea of having the developer build a sidewalk on a portion of Smithburg Road was to create a safer environment for pedestrians.

Board members said having a sidewalk in place when the five homes are built – even if the sidewalk does not cover the developer’s entire 1,200-foot frontage due to environmental concerns – would be a positive step if county officials decide to construct a sidewalk on Smithburg Road in the future.

The developer proposed designating conservation easements along Manalapan Brook. There will be a sidewalk on each side of the cul de sac, as requested by board members and agreed to by the applicant.

Following Vincenti’s testimony, board members raised no other issues with the application and voted 9-0 to grant preliminary approval to Galloping Hills.

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