MANALAPAN – The Township Committee has amended an ordinance that lays out a redevelopment plan for what is being called the Gaitway Redevelopment Area on Route 33 in Manalapan.
The initial redevelopment ordinance was adopted on Dec. 22. The amended redevelopment ordinance was adopted on April 27.
The ordinance describes the manner in which land on Route 33 eastbound between Woodward Road and Gaitway Farm will be developed and/or redeveloped.
Municipal officials previously said the redevelopment plan is an overlay of the existing special economic development zone and a commercial zone. The township will not be involved in acquiring any property in the redevelopment area or acquiring property for a developer.
Two significant parcels in the redevelopment area are Gaitway Farm and a now abandoned adult residential facility known as Manalapan Manor/Marianne Manor.
When the public hearing on the redevelopment ordinance was conducted in December, several representatives of the horse racing industry in New Jersey said Gaitway Farm is an important facility in the state’s billion dollar horse racing industry.
The speakers said it was important for Gaitway Farm to continue to operate, as the facility provides about 1,000 jobs. Those who spoke expressed concern that the governing body’s adoption of the redevelopment plan would signal the end of the farm’s operation.
The members of the Township Committee listened to what the speakers had to say and the amended ordinance that was before the governing body in April states that “during the course of the public hearing (in December), the Township Committee heard concerns of the equestrian industry with respect to the existing horse farm within the redevelopment area and finds that requiring the designated redeveloper to preserve equestrian activities would be beneficial to the residents of Manalapan and the equestrian industry within the
township and in surrounding areas” and that “the Township Committee has determined it would be appropriate to amend the Gaitway Redevelopment Plan to provide for the preservation of equestrian activity.”
The amended ordinance lays out the manner in which the goals of preserving equestrian activity at Gaitway Farm will be achieved.
When informed of the Township Committee’s action to amend the Gaitway Redevelopment Plan, Nancy Grbelja, a former mayor of neighboring Millstone Township and a supporter of the state’s equine industry, said, “I am very, very happy Manalapan’s officials decided to move in that direction (of maintaining equestrian activities at the site). This (decision) is vital to the harness industry in New Jersey.”
Regarding the Manalapan Manor/Marianne Manor property near Woodward Road, the amended ordinance states that “the Township Committee wishes to further amend the (redevelopment) plan to clarify the township’s intentions to ensure the construction of a recreational facility at the former Marianne Manor site on Route 33, which the committee believes to be appropriate and necessary to serve the needs of the township and its residents.”
Specifically, the amended ordinance states that “a redevelopment agreement that enables the construction of one or more warehouses on (certain parcels in the designated Route 33 redevelopment area) must include the development of a privately owned and operated ice skating facility on the Marianne Manor site, as such a facility does not currently exist in Manalapan.”
Under the terms of the redevelopment plan that has been approved by the Township Committee for 23 properties along Route 33, Manalapan’s officials cannot use eminent domain (condemnation) to acquire any parcels and no property owner can be directed to cease what he is currently doing on his property.
The area that was studied by professionals representing the township contains about 225 acres fronting on Route 33 and Woodward Road. A bowling alley that is next to Gaitway Farm was not included in the study area.
It was also reported that the owner of the Manalapan Manor/Marianne Manor no longer has a valid license from the state to operate the adult residential facility.
As a whole, the identified Route 33 properties were eventually designated to be a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment.
The redevelopment plan has created permitted light industrial uses, warehouse distribution uses (not Amazon “fulfillment centers”) and recreational uses in the redevelopment area.
The Township Committee will act as the redevelopment agency for the Gaitway Redevelopment Area.
Any proposals that are submitted for development and/or redevelopment in the Gaitway Redevelopment Area will be subject to review by the Planning Board. Members of the public will be able to comment on the proposals during public hearings conducted by the board.