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Proposed Ordinance Allows for Apartment Complex in Town Center

Developer asked that zoning be changed to allow for multifamily use

A proposed ordinance allowing an apartment complex near that was introduced by the township council last week received a recommendation from planning board members Monday night. 

The ordinance amends Chapter 245 of the township code, allowing for a multifamily development in the town center zone. The area is now zoned for commercial use, but a developer would like to build apartments on the property, said township planner Tom Thomas.

"There's no demand for offices and there's no demand for commercial," Thomas said of the property.

The 50-acre tract of land is near the Wells Fargo bank, diagonally across Route 37 from the municipal complex on Colonial Drive. Bridgewater-based developer Pizzo and Pizzo is interested in the site, which would house 500 units. The property owners requested the zoning change, Thomas said.

"Essentially, what this ordinance would provide for, is that tracts of land 30 acres or larger in the town center zone, one of the optional use developments would be for multifamily homes with a density of 10 units per acre," Thomas said.

Board member William Barron asked whether the ordinance only applies to this tract of land, to which Thomas replied yes. Though other similarly sized lots exist within the township, state wetlands restrictions would make their development difficult. 

"There's no way in the world we're going to get anything in there," Thomas said.

The ordinance is the result of an amendment to the Manchester's master plan and was recommended in a reexamination report two years ago.

Pizzo and Pizzo mostly develops in northern New Jersey, but has completed a project in Toms River. The company would maintain the complex if and when it is completed, according to Thomas. 

"They are builders and managers," Thomas said. "It's not like they're going to build the units and walk off."

In accordance with affordable housing rules of the state, 20 percent, or 100 units, would be designated as low or moderate income housing, Thomas said. 

If a plan for a nearby 40 to 50-unit veteran's housing complex comes to fruition, Thomas said there has been "some discussion" of transferring those affordable housing units to that project.

The veteran's housing is being considered on Route 37 across the street and 400 to 500 feet to the west from the potential apartment site. If the affordable housing units are transferred, they would "probably" be funded by the potential Pizzo and Pizzo development, Thomas said.

Donald Czekanski, who in addition to his role as a planning board member also serves on the township's Veteran's Advisory Committee, said that Mayor Michael Fressola has been working toward getting the veteran's housing project to come to fruition. 

"We've had some discussions about it," he said. "I think it's a real great plan if it materializes."

Transferring the units to the potential veteran's housing would be beneficial to both developers, Thomas said. The apartment developer would receive regular-priced rent from more units while the veteran's complex will be maintained by a nonprofit organization.

A draft ordinance for the veteran's housing project is anticipated at the next planning board meeting. 

All buildings on the perimeter at the potential multifamily site would be a maximum of two stories; three story structures are permitted but must be within the site's interior, Thomas said. 

Thomas estimated that each unit might sell for about $100,000. They will be primarily two-bedroom apartments which are open to the general public and are not restricted to seniors.

Resident Hank Glenn asked if it would be beneficial for the board to consider a change to the proposed ordinance that would require recreation areas to improve the development's appeal.

Such a requirement may turn off developers, said board attorney Edward Liston. The application would be required to come before the planning board, at which time members can make a decision about recreation areas. 

The ordinance was introduced on first reading by the council on April 23; the planning board made a motion to recommend it on second reading to the governing body, Liston said. The council will hold a second reading and hear public comment on the ordinance before voting on its adoption on May 29.

WhitingBoy May 08, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Whenever a citizen brings up a variance request issue to the council, they are told they cannot have anything to do with planning board happenings. If this is a request to go outside of the very recently enacted Master Plan ordinance, why is this not in front of the planning board as a variance? Why the inconsistency? If this affects only one piece of property, so it is not a zoning issue, it is a variance issue. No comment on the actual positive or negative of the project, just the legality of it all and the consistency of our council.
Joyce May 08, 2012 at 08:57 PM
what will this do to the traffic in that area? It's bad enough now.
Whiting Folk! May 09, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Ouch... we as a town fight commercial ratables and job creating projects such as Walmart and Health Centers but when it comes to adding more students to our school systems and increasing costs we are all for that. I think sometimes were not thinking clearly. After this they will probably ask for 4 more police officers...etc.
Whiting Folk! May 09, 2012 at 01:57 PM
"Donald Czekanski, who in addition to his role as a planning board member also serves on the township's Veteran's Advisory Committee, said that Mayor Michael Fressola has been working toward getting the veteran's housing project to come to fruition." They want to link theses two projects....can anyone say "PAYOLA" PLUS I know its early but where is the mention of all the damn snakes and frogs that stop every other project that this town doesn't want.
bhavaja May 09, 2012 at 03:29 PM
80/20 in a senior area where there has neen an increase in break ins...not fan og this project nor fact that large tracts of land/pines are being lost
Kasey Serafin May 09, 2012 at 04:08 PM
It's about time !! Young families are the future of Manchester. They bring revenue and life to the town. They should stop being dicriminated against because they are not seniors. I'll say it again - it's about time !!
WhitingBoy May 09, 2012 at 05:34 PM
@Kasey...it doesn’t look like the apartments are going to be aimed at young people. They look to be the result of a project the Mayor has worked on with the veteran’s committee person (who is also on the planning board). This would house veterans. I think housing for veterans is a good thing. I think usurping the authority of the panning board of adjustments on this variance request by going around the process is a bad thing. The Mayor doesn’t want another nursing Home issue, so he is going to bring this to him rubber-stamp group (Council) and just get the (recently passed) law changed for a single lot.
bhavaja May 09, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Agreed with Whiting Boy...Im RE broker and low income or partial subsidized build is break for developer but not necessarily for community ..
margaret Ulis May 10, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Changes, turn and face the strain. Don't grow up and out of it. Manchester is a beautiful place with good schools and recreation facilities, why not build homes that families can actually afford, and house some of our precious vets too!
JLH May 10, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Residents are fighting the nursing facility on 571 partly because of the traffic it will create near the elementary and middle schools. What will an apartment complex do near the entrane of Colonial Drive?? Between buses, staff, and student drivers, it will be a nightmare! Whether the complex will be housing low income residents or veterans, this just seems like a poor idea. Personally, I would like to see the property used commercially; maybe a restaurant or indoor sports facility...something for Manchester families and teenagers.
Da Gr8 1 May 11, 2012 at 02:43 AM
cant wait itll november to get this group out of office
bhavaja May 13, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Community center is great idea! Would love nearby indoor lap pool....

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