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Manalapan planners approve residential developments on Millhurst Road

MANALAPAN — A townhouse development for residents of all ages and an apartment building for seniors are expected to be constructed on Millhurst Road in Manalapan following an approval from the Planning Board.

During a meeting on Sept. 22, board members voted 8-0 to grant preliminary and final major subdivision approval and preliminary and final major site plan approval to the Woodward Estates application that was filed by developer Marvin Schmelzer.

The meeting was the continuation of a public hearing that began on Sept. 8.

Woodward Estates Inc. will construct two separate residential uses on a 162-acre property in the Affordable Housing-Woodward Estates Overlay District on Millhurst Road, near the intersection of Woodward Road. The project is part of Manalapan’s court approved affordable housing plan.

The applicant was represented by attorney Kenneth Pape, engineer Louis Zuegner and architect Laurence Appel.

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.

During his testimony on Sept. 8, Zuegner said 22 acres of the 162-acre property would be developed. The remaining 140 acres will remain undisturbed. Public water and public sewer will service the townhouses and the apartment building.

A boulevard entrance from Millhurst Road, near the Yorktowne Club, will serve as the access to and from the townhouse development. Recreational elements 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.

Regarding the apartment building for seniors, Zuegner 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 will be provided from Millhurst Road, closer to Woodward Road. Outdoor space will include two bocce ball courts and a patio area with benches and landscaping.

Zuegner returned on Sept. 22 and updated the board on several items. He said a location at the apartment building has been identified for a generator that will power the building if service is lost.

He said a sidewalk will be installed on Millhurst Road in the vicinity of the apartment building. Zuegner said additional landscaping beyond what was initially proposed will be provided at the site.

The engineer said land would be dedicated to the Yorktowne Club to separate the club from the townhouse development.

Pape then called on Appel to provide details regarding the materials that will be used in the construction of both developments, among other points.

Regarding the townhouses, Appel said the idea of using various design elements “is to avoid monotony in the project.”

The architect said some townhouses will have a basement and an 8-foot by 10-foot deck, while the townhouses that do not have a basement will have a 10-foot by 10-foot patio.

All 130 townhouses and all 56 apartments will have their own washer and dryer.

The apartment building will have two elevators, sprinklers and indoor community spaces such as a fitness room, a yoga room and a community room. Each apartment will have a balcony.

Regarding trash collection in the apartment building, Appel said all three floors will have a trash room. A resident will take his trash to the trash room and place it in a chute that will carry the trash to a compactor on the ground floor.

On collection days, the building superintendent will take the compacted trash outside to a trash collection area.

The architect called this plan “the gold standard” for trash collection.

Recycling bins will be provided in the trash room on each floor and the recyclable items will be collected by the superintendent and brought outside for pickup on designated days.

Appel said the building’s residents will not have to bring their trash or recyclable items to the ground floor or to the outdoor trash collection area.

Pape said the developer will make private arrangements for trash and recycling collection at the apartment building and will not ask the municipality to provide those services.

Township Committeeman Jack McNaboe, who sits on the board, discussed the apartment building’s elevators with the applicant’s representatives.

McNaboe said it is important for the elevators to have generator power “given the age and needs of the residents” and for the elevators to be able to accommodate a stretcher in case a resident needs to be transported for medical care.

In response to McNaboe’s comments, Pape and Appel said the generator will service the elevators if power is lost in the building and they said the elevators will be constructed so they can accommodate a stretcher.

The board members thanked the applicant for ensuring the elevators would have generator power and would be able to serve the medical needs of the residents.

When the meeting was opened to public comment, several area residents asked questions about the application.

Among the concerns the residents raised during the 45-minute public comment session was having an appropriate amount of landscaping to shield the new residences from their homes.

The developer’s representatives previously testified the townhouses and the apartment building would not be highly visible from Millhurst and Woodward roads.

Pape reiterated that the applicant would work with the township to provide appropriate landscaping and buffer zones in the vicinity of the new construction.

Resident Angelo Sigona asked the Planning Board members if they had considered the impact of the townhouse development – which has no age restrictions – on local schools.

Ron Cucchiaro, the board’s attorney, explained that by law, the board members are not permitted to consider the impact of a development on local schools because that consideration could be discriminatory against the applicant.

Resident Jordan Maskowitz, a former member of the Township Committee, spoke about Manalapan’s state mandated obligation to provide opportunities for the development of affordable housing in the township.

He said officials must permit hundreds of affordable housing units to be constructed.

“It is important to the whole township that we fulfill that obligation, and it’s a tough obligation,” Maskowitz said. “Years ago we were able to sell off our (affordable housing) obligation to other towns. Now we cannot do that. We have to build it in the township. On behalf of the whole town, I ask you (board members) to pass this (application).”

The townhouses and the apartment building will be constructed in the vicinity of the Wemrock Brook School and the Manalapan Englishtown Middle School, both of which are on Millhurst Road.

The board’s engineer, Brian Boccanfuso, previously stated that the residential uses the applicant was proposing are permitted on the 162-acre property; the densities being proposed are permitted; and that the application will be subject to county review.

A motion was made to grant the Woodward Estates application subdivision and site plan approval.

Voting “yes” on the motion were board members Kathryn Kwaak, Todd Brown, John Castronovo, Barry Fisher, Steven Kastell, Township Committeeman Barry Jacobson, Brian Shorr and McNaboe.

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