Sterling may join list of donating developers

Livingston company may offer payment to secure density increase

Staff Writer

Sterling may join list
of donating developers
Staff Writer

TINTON FALLS — Let them build the 180 condos, and the $2.2-million soccer complex will come.

In other words, money to help the borough realize its dream of the costly complex could be funneled in through developer donations. Sterling Properties, Livingston, the slated developer of the Laurino Farm, is the latest in a string of developers to purportedly promise some cash or equipment for the fields, in exchange for the high-density development it wants to build.

No one really knows what this particular trade-off might be, but one has been discussed before.

What is known, however, is that Sterling has had a contract to buy the farm, which is located on the corner of Hance and Sycamore avenues, for about $14 million, for the past year or so.

The sale hinges on rezoning the currently split-zoned, 60-acre tract.

Roughly 36.5 acres of the Laurino Farm are zoned industrial/office/professional (IOP) and the other approximately 23 acres are zoned residential (R-2).

The present zoning would allow anything from a warehouse to an office to a hotel on the tract on one end, and up to two single-family homes per acre on another.

The zone change, according to the ordinance, would allow for a singular use of age-restricted housing on the site and a maximum of 3.2 condos per acre. This would allow Sterling to build up to 192 condos on the 60-acre tract.

At maximum build-out — which residents are resisting — there would barely be any open space on the tract, and traffic congestion implications loom.

Even though residents have hated the density potential the ordinance offers, it has not yet been amended.

That ordinance to rezone was slated for a public hearing and possible adoption on Tuesday night, after press time.

By paving the way for maximum density with the ordinance, Sterling may pitch in an open space donation down the road, by providing help in building the soccer complex.

Sterling has not confirmed any specifics on the subject. However, in a past interview, Borough Administrator Anthony Muscillo said that should the zoning to accommodate Sterling’s proposed development of Laurino Farm be approved, the borough may be able to count on a Sterling developer donation to the soccer fields.

The borough had purchased two contiguous open space tracts on Sycamore Avenue near the Laurino Farm, last year, which are slated to house the soccer fields: the 12-acre Mittermaier tract and the 17.5-acre Cobb Kennel property.

"About $1 million in developer donations were anticipated to subsidize the work, but have not yet come through," Muscillo had said.

"We negotiated with different developments that have recently come into town, or are expected to, and they’ve agreed to donate money to boost our recreation in town, in lieu of spots on their property, where they would normally [provide for] a certain percent of open space," he added. "This way, there will be a large spot in one location instead of several small, less significant spots around town."

For example: Hovnanian is donating $400,000 in lieu of development on what was Liberty Park on West Park Avenue; the Fox Chase IV developer is donating $168,000; Arcon Development, which is building 25-30 homes on Green Grove Road is donating $176,000.

There are more, according to Muscillo, but he said couldn’t recall them. He added that the paperwork exists for all the deals.

In addition, officials had banked on getting some matching grant money and/or low interest loans from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program.