The additional seating capacity of auditorium is no longer needed now that the controversial application for a skilled nursing facility has been withdrawn.
Hundreds of residents would regularly attend the Zoning Board of Adjustment meetings when the variance application for the facility proposed at 3086 Ridgeway Rd. was on the agenda. With the application no longer in consideration, the courtroom will provide sufficient space for the May 24 regular meeting, said secretary Darlene Garcia.
A construction variance for a single family home on an undersized lot in Pine Lake Park is expected to be heard during the 7 p.m. meeting. The hearing was carried from the board's April meeting on request of the applicant.
Many lots in that section of the township are under the 100 by 100 foot size requirement, meaning that a property owner who wants to build a home must apply for a variance.
Those who want to build on lots smaller than 100 by 100 feet are generally granted a variance because of the precedent set by the 1987 Dallmeyer case heard before New Jersey Superior Court. But to Freehold realtor Lisa Duerkes, a move that she believes will be overturned by an appellate court.
Last Friday, Mayor Michael Fressola announced in a prepared statement that the applicant for the Manchester Rehab Realty nursing facility .
Harvey York, the applicant's attorney, said that he sent a letter to the township zoning board on May 17 to inform them of his client's decision. The economic viability of the project was the main concern in proceeding, though he said that resistance from neighbors "had an impact."
"My client took all the factors into account and decided not to proceed," he said. "My client has had enough and that's the end of it."
Fressola said that it is "disappointing to lose a potential tax ratable" in town — the applicant valued the facility at $25 million, though a certificate of need placed that number at $18 million — but he took into account that residents were concerned by the operation's potential impact.
"Several constituents have expressed concern to me about traffic control and other issues regarding the nursing home and I delivered those concerns to the applicant’s attorney, Mr. York," he said.
Richard Lareau, a resident who lives on Shorin Way — a property adjacent to the proposed facility — said that he was returning from travel when he learned of the withdrawal. He immediately began sending text messages to tell his neighbors the news.
"We're very happy. It's been a long 10 months for us," he said. "We as residents want to keep this a residential area and we're proud of the professional fight we put up to stop this for-profit business from coming into the neighborhood."