Council looks at zones for adult communities

Staff Writer

Council looks at zones
for adult communities
Staff Writer

OLD BRIDGE — A long-awaited ordinance setting aside certain parcels for age-restricted housing will go before the Township Council Monday night.

Details of the proposed ordinance, intended to encourage builders to build market-rate housing for empty nesters and others over age 55, would designate or officially rezone four different areas of the township for age-restricted communities, according to township Engineer John Vincente.

There are no downsides to the ordinance that would establish Planned Retirement Community (PRC) zones on the township’s zoning maps, Vincente told the council during its agenda session this past Monday night.

The ordinance encourages builders to locate age-restricted housing communities within those four zones, he explained.

The age-restricted communities would benefit the township’s tax ratable base, something that single-family development does not do, Vincente noted. Because school-age children would not be allowed to live in those communities, the age-restricted housing would produce revenue for the township and school district without adding students.

In addition, because many of their residents do not go to work, age-restricted communities would not produce as much roadway traffic as single-family homes, Vincente said.

Three of the four areas that would be rezoned as PRCs under the proposed ordinance have plans for three different age-restricted communities under way, Vincente noted.

The township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment previously gave approvals for developments on the three sites. These include Horizons at Birch Hill; Pheasant Park, off Spring Valley Road; and a site off Jake Brown Road and adjacent to the township-owned and undeveloped Peter A. Mannino Park, Vincente said.

Horizons at Birch Hill is located at the former Birch Hill nightclub and picnic grounds, Route 9 and Texas Road.

The fourth site is a 100-acre tract off Ferry Road, situated between Raritan Bay Medical Center’s Old Bridge division and the Foxborough Village development, Vincente said. An application to build over 100 single-family homes on that site is currently before the Planning Board, according to Lawrence Redmond, board chairman.

The applicant knows the township is considering rezoning that site for a PRC zone, said Mayor Jim Phillips.

"The applicant is aware of the possible change and he is not vehemently opposed," Phillips said.

Phillips encouraged the nine-member council to support the ordinance as a means of ensuring that age-restricted housing, and not single-family development, is constructed at the Ferry Road site.

The mayor then cited statistics gathered by Environmental Resolutions Inc., of Mount Laurel, in a community impact comparison between a proposed single-family development and a theoretical, age-restricted community of about 150 units. The proposed single-family housing could add 252 residents to the township’s overall population, while the age-restricted housing would increase the popula­tion by 292, Phillips read.

However, new single-family residents would send 56 children to the schools, while the age-restricted population would send none.

Municipal tax revenue from the single-family development is pro­jected at $144,418, compared to more than double that or $297,923 from the age-restricted develop­ment, Phillips said.

The municipal costs of an age-restricted community would be $81,234, while single-family devel­opment could cost less or $70,106.

However, the municipal surplus from an age-restricted community would amount to $216,689, or nearly three times that of the $74,312 surplus coming from a sin­gle-family development.

As for the school district, the proposed single-family homes would produce $427,920 in school tax revenue and school surplus of $75,338, while an age-restricted community would generate $882,765 in both school tax revenue and surplus, Phillips read.

School costs for the single-fam­ily homes would be $352,582 per year, compared to no cost with age-restricted, Phillips said.

"I consider that to be smart growth," Phillips said.

In response to questions from Councilman Edward Testino, Vincente noted that the four PRCs will be of different sizes and offer various amenities, depending on the number of housing units and the size of their popula­tions.

Builders of age-restricted com­munities will also be required to keep 60 percent of their land as open space, or seek a use variance from the Zoning Board.

A 50-foot buffer between neighboring properties will also be required, he told Testino.