Manalapan planners consider application for Woodward Estates


MANALAPAN — Testimony is scheduled to resume at the Manalapan Planning Board’s Sept. 22 meeting on an applicant’s proposal to construct a townhouse development and an age-restricted apartment building on Millhurst Road.

Woodward Estates Inc. is seeking preliminary and final major subdivision approval and preliminary and final major site plan approval to construct two separate residential uses on a 162-acre property in Manalapan’s Affordable Housing-Woodward Estates Overlay District.

The application was heard by board members Kathryn Kwaak, Daria D’Agostino, Todd Brown, John Castronovo, Barry Fisher, Steven Kastell, Township Committeeman Jack McNaboe, Township Committeeman Barry Jacobson, Richard Hogan and Brian Shorr on Sept. 8 in the municipal building.

Attorney Kenneth Pape represents the applicant and its principal, Marvin Schmelzer.

In a brief overview of the application, Pape said Schmelzer is proposing to construct 130 three-bedroom townhouses (50 of which may have a basement) to be sold at market rates, without age or income restrictions, on Millhurst Road near the Yorktowne Club social hall; and 56 age-restricted affordable senior apartments in a three-story building near the corner of Millhurst and Woodward roads.

Access to each development would be provided by its own entrance on Millhurst Road.

The age-restricted senior apartments would be rented at below market rates to individuals whose income meets guidelines in accordance with New Jersey’s affordable housing regulations.

Pape said the process of developing Woodward Estates has been ongoing for many years as part of Manalapan’s obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing in the community. He said Woodward Estates is part of Manalapan’s court approved affordable housing plan.

The Planning Board’s attorney, Ron Cucchiaro, confirmed that the plan submitted by the applicant is in compliance with Manalapan’s affordable housing court agreement.

Pape called on engineer Louis Zuegner to provide details of each development.

Zuegner said 22 acres of the 162-acre property would be developed. He said 90 acres that have been identified as wetlands would remain untouched. A portion of developable uplands will also remain in its natural state. Public water and public sewer would service the townhouses and the apartment building.

A boulevard entrance from Millhurst Road, next to the Yorktowne Club, would serve as the access to and from the townhouse development. Seven basins would be created to collect water runoff and those basins comply with the most current New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection regulations, Zuegner testified.

The engineer said he and Shari Spero, who is Manalapan’s arborist, walked the site and he said 300 trees would be planted as part of the townhouse development. Zuegner said Schmelzer would comply with Spero’s recommendations for additional landscape plantings.

Recreational elements in the townhouse community will include a tennis court/pickleball courts and a tot lot with a playground.

Zuegner said 94 townhouses would have a one-car driveway and garage, and 36 townhouses would have a two-car driveway and garage. He said 423 parking spaces are being provided, where 312 parking spaces are required.

Zuegner then shifted his focus to the age-restricted apartment building. He said there would be 55 apartments available to be rented (28 one-bedroom apartments and 27 two-bedroom apartments) and one apartment reserved for the building’s superintendent.

An access road for the apartment building would be provided from Millhurst Road.

Outdoor space would include two bocce ball courts and a patio area with benches and landscaping. Trash would be compacted in the building by the residents and brought to a trash collection area by the superintendent.

Zuegner said the building would provide 108 parking spaces, where 107 parking spaces are required.

Pape noted that Millhurst Road is a Monmouth County road and the attorney said county representatives have not asked the developer to make any improvements to the road, which is one lane in each direction.

The nearest signalized intersection is at Millhurst and Woodward roads and the site is in the vicinity of the Wemrock Brook School and the Manalapan Englishtown Middle School.

The board was represented by engineer Brian Boccanfuso and planner Jennifer Beahm, both of whom asked questions about various aspects of the application, but neither of whom took significant exception to the developer’s proposals.

Pape confirmed with Schmelzer, who was seated in the audience, that the townhouses and the apartment building would be constructed at the same time.

During comments from the board, Castronovo suggested parking could be an issue at the apartment building, where the developer is proposing 108 spaces.

If each apartment produced two vehicles that would require 110 spaces, plus parking needed for guests, Castronovo said, adding, “the development seems to be condensed. Can it be spread out?”

Pape said the developer has followed the guidelines established by a local ordinance that was agreed to by the court and township officials. The calculation is 1.8 vehicles per apartment, which comes out to 99 parking spaces, he said.

The board members and members of the public then heard from landscape architect Julie Kobesky, who designed the separate boulevard entrances and signs for the proposed townhouse development and for the apartment building.

Each entrance includes plantings around the sign and Kobesky said, “the goal was to create a nice lush environment (at each entrance) for the community and for people traveling on Millhurst Road.”

Kobesky said the townhouses and the apartment building will not be highly visible from Millhurst Road.

During his testimony, traffic engineer John Rea said the speed limit on Millhurst Road is 40 mph.

Rea said school buses would be able to navigate the roads in the townhouse development, but he said it would be up to local school boards to determine if buses would be sent into the development to pick up and drop off students, or to establish the pick-up and drop-off location for all students at the corner of Millhurst Road and the boulevard entrance.

Regarding the intersection of Millhurst and Woodward roads, Rea said the current level of service at that location during the morning and afternoon peak hours is “C” (on a scale of “A” to “F”).

At the build-out date of 2025, the level of service would remain at “C” during the morning and afternoon peak hours, he said.

Rea said the Millhurst Road boulevard entrances for the townhouse development and the apartment building would each operate at a service level of “B” during peak hours.

Boccanfuso summed up the evening’s testimony by stating that the residential uses Schmelzer is proposing are permitted on the property; the densities being proposed are permitted; and that the application will be subject to county review.

Testimony is expected to resume at the board’s Sept. 22 meeting. Members of the public are expected to have the opportunity to ask questions about Woodward Estates and to state their opinions about the application. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the municipal building, Route 522.