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Middletown announces objection to proposed dementia facility in Holmdel

Middletown officials have announced their intention for the municipality to become a formal objector to an application that is currently before the Zoning Board of Adjustment in neighboring Holmdel.

The Enclave at Holmdel application, filed by United Methodist Communities, Neptune, has been the subject of several public hearings before the zoning board during the past six months and was most recently heard during the board’s Feb. 16 meeting.

No decision on the application was reached that evening and the public hearing was carried to 7 p.m. March 2. The meeting will be conducted in a virtual manner during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Instructions on how to view the meeting will be posted on Holmdel’s municipal website.

According to the zoning board’s Feb. 16 agenda, United Methodist Communities, which serves individuals of all faiths and backgrounds, is seeking a use variance to build an assisted living residence at 470 Red Hill Road, Holmdel.

The proposed facility would serve up to 105 individuals who have dementia and would consist of a residential memory support program that will house a variety of programs and building design concepts including an assessment program; educational services; and community outreach and support, according to a description of the project provided on the agenda.

The property in Holmdel where the facility is proposed is in a residential zone at the border of Holmdel and Middletown, near an exit off the Garden State Parkway.

On Feb. 16, attorney Christopher J. Dasti, of the firm Dasti and Associates, Forked River, sent a letter to Holmdel zoning board secretary Loretta Coscia to serve notice that Middletown will be an objector to the application.

That evening, attorney Brian Clancy, of the firm Dasti and Associates, joined the meeting via Zoom and outlined some of Middletown’s concerns regarding the Enclave at Holmdel application.

“Middletown’s concern is the impact of a non-conforming use on their community,” Clancy said, explaining that the proposed use (an assisted living residence) is not a permitted use at the Red Hill Road location, which necessitates the applicant’s request for a use variance.

“There is a potential impact on traffic that will be caused by deliveries being made to the facility and a potential need for Middletown emergency medical services to respond to this facility in Holmdel in a mutual aid situation,” Clancy said. “Aesthetics is also a concern; seeing the buildings which are across from a residential zone in Middletown.”

Also appearing at the meeting was attorney Kevin Asadi, of the firm Zager Fuchs, PC, Red Bank.

Asadi informed the zoning board he represents a group called Potter’s Farm Preservation, which he said was assembled in the last week and consists of residents of the Country Woods development in Holmdel.

The property where United Methodist Communities is proposing to construct the assisted living residence is known locally as Potter’s Farm.

Asadi raised issues regarding proposed principal uses and proposed accessory uses at the property. In addition to the residential aspect of the application, Asadi described proposed uses at the site as including a restaurant, a medical clinic, a salon, an auditorium and a theater.

Attorney Sanford Brown, who represents the applicant, offered a rebuttal to Asadi’s points, which led to a discussion about principal and accessory uses that included the board’s planner, Kate Keller, and eventually to the continuation of the public hearing, during which Larry Carlson, the president and CEO of United Methodist Communities, testified about various aspects of the planned facility.

When the applicant has concluded its presentation regarding the Enclave at Holmdel, the objecting parties will have an opportunity to present their cases. Members of the public will have a chance to state their views on the proposed project as the public hearing process continues before the zoning board.

Responding to a request for comment from the Independent regarding Middletown’s position on the application, Mayor Tony Perry said, “Middletown residents have voiced their passion for preserving open space when they supported our referendum on the 2020 ballot.

“The Township Committee and I want to be kept apprised of this application to ensure it makes sense for our communities, especially as it is the gateway for both Middletown and Holmdel,” the mayor said.

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