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Manalapan planners approve housing development on Iron Ore Road

MANALAPAN – Members of the Manalapan Planning Board have approved the construction of a residential community on Iron Ore Road. The application was filed by Toll Brothers.

The board’s unanimous approval of the project was granted on May 27 after two items that were left unresolved on May 13 were addressed by the applicant and by the board’s engineer.

During the May 13 meeting, residents of La Valley Drive whose homes will back up to the new development asked for a fence to be constructed on the property line.

On May 27, engineer Jay Kruse of ESE Consultants said Toll Brothers would construct a 6-foot-tall solid vinyl fence behind 13 residential lots (12 lots on La Valley Drive and one lot on Iron Ore Road) that would separate those properties from the new development.

Kruse said the fence can be installed without having to remove mature vegetation from the property.

Also on May 13, the applicant provided a revised storm water management plan that required a review by the board’s engineer, Brian Boccanfuso of CME Associates.

On May 27, Boccanfuso reported that he had reviewed the revised storm water management plan and he said the plan complies with all applicable regulations.

Board members accepted the developer’s offer to install the fence behind the adjacent existing homes and the revised storm water management plan.

“I thank the applicant for putting up the fence. I think it was needed,” board member Daria D’Agostino said.

Board member Rick Hogan said the proposed fire hydrants in the new development comply with regulations. He said the access point on Route 33 westbound that Toll Brothers added to the plan “is a plus for fire protection. It provides extra access to the development.”

The new development will also have access to and from Iron Ore Road.

When the May 27 meeting was opened to public comment, Rich Concato of La Valley Drive addressed the board for 22 minutes.

“We bought houses in the woods because we like it,” Concato said. “I’m going to go from looking at woods to looking at an apartment building. I’ve got a problem with that. La Valley drive residents are getting shafted.”

Concato noted that the Toll Brothers development on Iron Ore Road is the result of an affordable housing settlement Manalapan officials entered into with the state Supreme Court.

“The affordable housing settlement should not have to affect us so drastically,” he said.

Following Concato’s comments, the board’s attorney, Ron Cucchiaro, reminded the board members and the public that if a development application complies with the ordinance that governs the use of a property, then approval of the application is required from the board.

Regarding the affordable housing settlement Concato mentioned during his remarks, Cucchiaro said Manalapan officials complied with the court.

Mayor Jack McNaboe, who sits on the Planning Board, thanked the applicant and the board’s professionals for providing access to the development from Route 33 – which was not on the original plan – and for quickly resolving the two issues that had been left unresolved two weeks earlier.

A motion was made to grant approval to the Toll Brothers application and McNaboe, Hogan, D’Agostino, board Chairwoman Kathy Kwaak and board members John Castronovo, Barry Fisher, Township Committeeman Barry Jacobson and Steven Kastell voted “yes.”

Toll Brothers plans to construct 224 market rate townhouses in 65 buildings and 96 affordable rental units in four buildings in Manalapan’s AH Diocese Affordable Housing Overlay zone. All 320 housing units will be available to individuals of all ages.

Toll Brothers will also construct a 4,450-square-foot clubhouse, two pools and several tot lots. Initial testimony from the applicant’s representatives indicated the clubhouse and pools would only available to the residents of the townhouses.

However, during the May 13 meeting, attorney Salvatore Alfieri, who represented the applicant, said his client would make the the pools available to the residents of the affordable housing rental units at a fee to be determined.

The 57-acre parcel that is slated for development is at the border of Manalapan and Millstone Township, on Iron Ore Road, just north of Route 33 westbound.

Residential properties on La Valley Drive and the Quail Hill Boy Scout camp on La Valley Drive border the site where Toll Brothers will build the homes.

Testimony offered by the applicant indicated 96 affordable housing units (a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments) would be constructed in four three-story buildings (24 apartments per building).

According to the application, there will be 160 three-bedroom townhouses with a two-car garage and a two-car driveway, and 64 three-bedroom townhouses with a single-car garage and a single-car driveway. The townhouses will have about 2,100 square feet of living space.

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