Adult community seeking Howell OK

Attorney says applicant has no plans to switch project to non-age-restricted homes

Staff Writer

HOWELL— Representatives of an applicant who wants to build an age-restricted community in Howell continued laying out their development plans at a recent meeting of the Howell Planning Board.

The applicant, Harvest Ridge and Howell Land Improvement LLC, is seeking approval for 258 lots: 251 lots for age-restricted homes, six lots to remain as open space, and one lot for a pump station.

The proposed location for the adult community is West Farms Road.

The Harvest Ridge parcel totals 128 acres, with approximately 101 acres in Howell in a Residential Adult Community zone and approximately 27 acres in neighboring Freehold Township in a Rural Environmental zone on Georgia Road.

Attorney William Mehr, of Freehold, represents the applicant. He said the applicant has already received approval for the portion of the site that is in Freehold Township .

All 251 homes in the adult community would be built in Howell, according to the applicant.

The properties in Howell and Freehold Township are bisected by Snyder Road, a 33-foot-wide right of way having a partially paved and partially dirt road intersecting West Farms Road.

Engineer Jeromie Lange of Maser Consulting discussed the need to vacate the Howell portion of Snyder Road. He said his team would have to approach the Township Council to ask it to vacate the road.

Lange said some existing homes on the Freehold Township portion of the Harvest Ridge property would be demolished if the application is approved.

During his testimony before the board, Lange also addressed parking, the residential development’s entrance road, and snow removal from the planned adult community.

According to the plans, Harvest Ridge would be accessible only from West Farms Road on a boulevard-style road with connections to a proposed cul-de-sac road within the development.

Lange said the homes would range in size from 1,500 square feet to 2,400 square feet. Buyers would be able to select various amenities, and the homes would not all look alike, he testified.

“You see that sometimes, where it is the same cookie cutter-type of thing, but that is not at all the case here,” Lange said.

He said the developer is planning to reforest more than 7 acres of the property and to provide 49 percent open space where 30 percent open space is required.

Board members expressed concern about the single entrance into the development the Harvest Ridge plan provides and the possibility of hazards during the winter months.

Councilman Robert Nicastro, who sits on the board, urged Lange to find a way to come up with a second entrance into the adult community.

“We understand developers do their homework and want to sell their properties. Unfortunately, when they leave, we are stuck with the problems that come up that maybe the developers did not see,” Nicastro said .

The board’s attorney, Ronald Cucchiaro, noted there is a state law that in some cases permits the developer of a planned adult community to come back to the municipality before the development has been built and to ask that the age restrictions that had been approved be removed.

Cucchiaro said the purpose of the law was to recognize the financial emergency New Jersey is in and was an effort to help spur economic development.

Mehr assured the board members that his client has no intention of switching from the proposed age-restricted community to a development that would provide housing to people of all ages.

He said it has taken eight years to get everything in order for the adult community project to have reached the current point of seeking Planning Board approval.

As part of the application, the developer is seeking approval to build a clubhouse and recreation area that will include parking for 100 vehicles, a lobby/reception area, a fitness room, a multipurpose room, a billiards room, a card room, a library and a conference room.

The applicant is also proposing to construct a pool, a gazebo, two tennis courts, a horseshoe pit, a picnic area and a recreational area with walking trails and bicycle trails.

Testimony on the Harvest Ridge application is expected to continue at the Planning Board’s Aug. 4 meeting.