Old Orchard owners weigh developer’s offer

Borough deciding
whether to weigh in
on possible sale

Staff Writer

Old Orchard owners
weigh developer’s offer
Borough deciding
whether to weigh in
on possible sale
Staff Writer

EATONTOWN — The owners of Old Orchard Country Club have received an offer from a developer for the club’s 134-acre golf course and have contacted the borough to see if it has any interest in purchasing the property before making a decision about selling.

David Califado, one of the owners, said the developer is proposing "some kind of age-restricted community" for the golf course, which currently is zoned R-32. He declined to be more specific.

R-32 is a residential zone that requires 32,000 square feet per home lot, or about three-quarters of an acre. If townhouses are being considered by the developer, a use variance would have to be obtained from the borough.

"One of our thoughts," Califado said of the owners’ approach to the borough, "is that Eatontown wouldn’t let that happen."

In response to the contact from Old Orchard’s owners, Old Orchard Country Club Associates LP, a limited partnership, the Borough Council has authorized a study on the potential impact private development of the golf course would have and the ability of the borough, county or state to maintain it as open space.

Mayor Gerald J. Tarantolo said one of the issues the study will look at is getting the right of first refusal to buy the property for Eatontown.

He said the study would also look at the impact from the property’s development in keeping with the present R-32 zoning.

Tarantolo said he would prefer to see the country club preserved as a golf course. But in any case, he said, he would like to see it kept as open space.

"Townhouses don’t appeal to me," he explained.

Perhaps, Tarantolo suggested, there could be a combination of open space and development.

"I think a portion of it should remain open space," he said.

The council approved a contract with Richard Cramer, of T&M Associates, the borough’s engineering firm, for $11,000, and a contract with Jeffrey Donohue, of Jeffrey Donohue Associates, in Manchester, N.H., for $7,500 to do the study. Donohue was retained by the borough earlier to do planning for what had been anticipated to be the turnover of Howard Commons, a military housing complex at Fort Monmouth, to the private sector. But the Army has since changed its mind and no longer plans to convert the complex to civilian use.

Tarantolo said he hoped to have the study done before the end of the month.

"Hopefully, we will have something for the council to peruse at our last meeting of August or the first meeting of September," he reported.

Califado said the owners of Old Orchard had an offer before them and were exercising due diligence in exploring all their possibilities.

"You have to do due diligence when you have an offer," he said.

The owners have made no decision, he stressed.

"I imagine it’s going to take some time," he added. "I’m sure no decision is going to be made for several months."

Califado said contacting Eatontown to see if it was interested in the property was one of the possibilities the owners are investigating in their due diligence to protect everybody’s best interest in the partnership. He said the partnership is made up of about 40 persons, most of whom are heirs to the original owners of Old Orchard from when it was founded in 1929.

The owners are a diverse age group, he added.

Califado said the Old Orchard property includes a house behind the golf course on a couple of acres that is leased. He said some of the partners own land around the golf course, but that property isn’t before the developer.

Over the years, he said, the owners have had many offers to buy Old Orchard. Asked why they never sold, he replied, "They’ve never been serious enough."