Request for zoning change denied

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — A Hazlet developer, Matzel and Mumford, has requested that a piece of land be rezoned to allow for the construction of a planned retirement community, but members of the Township Committee agreed they are not interested in making the switch.

At a recent workshop meeting, committee members dismissed the request that had originally been made through correspondence from Matzel and Mumford’s attorney. The company was asking for a rezoning of property on the southwest corner of Halls Mill Road and Route 33. The 92-acre sod farm is zoned M-1 and the developer wanted it changed to permit a combined planned retirement community with limited retail commercial development.

The developer’s proposal was to construct a retirement community of 183 detached homes and approximately 30,000 square feet of commercial retail space.

According to the letter, because the property is on a "very adequate road system" and somewhat separate from other residential development in the township, it would not have an adverse traffic impact.

Committee members did not agree with that assertion. Deputy Mayor David Salkin said traffic is always an issue and so is development.

"We have fulfilled our COAH (state Council On Affordable Housing) obligations and don’t need anymore residential housing. Why would we encourage residential development if we don’t have to? At some point, the property will be developed as a manufacturing zone. It’s on Route 33 and has been zoned that way forever."

Officials in many towns find themselves looking at a scenario of single-family homes and apartments as a way to meet their COAH obligations, but if a town doesn’t have to do that for COAH it can avoid that kind of development, Salkin said.

"The biggest complaints from people are about traffic, congestion and development," he said, adding, "We don’t want to change the zoning on that property because non-residential uses are considered good ratables for a town."