Applicant wants to return to age-restricted homes

Staff Writer

Testimony on an application that proposes the construction of an age-restricted community and commercial space is expected to be heard tonight, March 5, by the Howell Planning Board.

The developer of Boulder Ridge is seeking approval to construct an active adult community consisting of 141 residential lots and a required commercial development of 56,400 square feet on Route 33 west in Howell, about 1,350 feet west of Route 33’s intersection with Route 34.

The application received approval in May 2010 for 171 lots and a larger recreation area, according to the board’s attorney, Ronald Cucchiaro.

“This application was previously approved as an age-restricted project, then in the economic downturn there were many unsold houses [in the region], so this development was converted to a nonage-restricted [development],” Cucchiaro said.

The applicant is now seeking the board’s permission to develop the project as an age-restricted community. Attorney John Giunco, who represents Boulder Ridge, called project engineer Richard Kenderian to testify at the board’s Feb. 5 meeting.

Kenderian said the property totals 72.5 acres and he said the revised project now includes a smaller clubhouse and a smaller recreation area.

The current clubhouse proposal is for a 4,335-square-foot building. The outdoor recreation area will include a swimming pool, patios and a tennis court. There is a proposal for 48 off-street parking spots at the recreation center, where 14 parking spaces are required.

The proposed adult community will not be a gated community. There is currently no plan for public transportation (i.e., buses) to serve the homes, although the applicant’s representatives indicated a willingness to determine if public transportation could serve the development.

“The purchaser wants more luxurious units and larger lots as well as interpretation of environmentally sensitive areas and a buffer area to adhere to a C-1 (highest priority for protection) stream. The project remains approximately the same as before, but scaled down,” Kenderian said.

The rear of the property is used as active farmland, and there are wetlands toward the center of the site, according to Kenderian. Naval Weapons Station Earle is to the north of the property, and the Angle Inn mobile home park is on the western side of the parcel.

Kenderian addressed the issue of a few mobile home lots that encroach, by a small amount, onto the Boulder Ridge tract. He said the applicant is prepared to offer a lease agreement to owners of mobile homes that are encroaching on his client’s property.

Boulder Ridge shows two proposed access points off Route 33.

“All of the lots will meet or exceed the bulk requirement of 6,500 square feet as the minimum requirement, with our lots being 7,200 square feet,” Kenderian said.

The commercial space is 56,400 square feet and will be a two-story building with stores on the first floor and offices on the second floor, according to Kenderian.

“Right now we have no active tenants, so this is very difficult to build at this time,” Giunco said. Kenderian said that with respect to storm water management, the proposed development meets state Department of Environmental Protection requirements.

The property will use a combination of wetlands basins and recharge basins, and the homes will be connected to a public sewer system.

According to Cucchiaro, the issue of affordable housing will be discussed in regard to the Boulder Ridge plan.

Affordable housing is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below-market rates to people whose income meets regional guidelines established by the state Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).

Initially, the developer was looking to contribute to Howell’s COAH requirement by dedicating 10 acres of developable land to the municipality as a prospective affordable housing site.

Boulder Ridge has been an objector to Howell’s COAH plan since 2009.

“The ordinance the township has still permits the age-restricted, nonrestricted, then age-restricted again changes of this proposed development. Our ordinance provides a menu of options and rather than having on-site affordable housing, there can be a donation made to the township’s fund for affordable housing,” Cucchiaro said.