Howell zoners OK grading changes at project site

Staff Writer

HOWELL — The Zoning Board of Adjustment has granted preliminary and final major subdivision approval to a previously approved 20-lot subdivision for which the applicant sought a density variance as the result of a zone change at Asbury Avenue and Cloverhill Lane.

The application was heard by the zoning board on Nov. 16.

Attorney Salvatore Alfieri, representing Gross and Gross Associates, said the application was one of the most unique he has handled in 30-plus years of land use work. He said the Gross family has owned the 41-acre property for decades and received approval in 2000 for 20 lots (17 homes) and then the economy crashed.

“The approvals have been extended … and we were about ready to perfect the subdivision as approved. The engineer who got the approval originally was changed and Michael Geller became the new engineer and finished the perfection of the approval,” Alfieri told the board.

“During that time with the new engineer, with new eyes on the project, it was clear that the way (the development) was designed had significant expense to the township forever in the maintenance of the retaining walls and significant grading.

“There were a lot of design issues that can easily be fixed just by tweaking the plans. We met with the Planning Board’s professionals, we had a Technical Review Committee meeting and explained the process and it was favorably received, we believe, but it was determined that because the zone changed we could not just amend our previous approval. We had to come back to this (zoning) board … It went from a 1-acre zone to a 2-acre zone,” Alfieri said.

He said the lots are not changing and the road configuration is not changing.

“All we are doing is changing the grading in a way that will make the project much more attractive to everyone, including the township,” Alfieri said.

Geller said, “The proposed amendment to the plan is the same number of lots, the same street configuration as originally approved and the same street design standards … There will be elimination in total of the extensive amount of retaining walls. … All of the grading has been redesigned so as to eliminate those retaining walls. We feel that is a benefit to the township.

“ … We redesigned the storm water management system such that it is a more efficient design then originally done by the prior engineer … So that is also a benefit for the township in … not having (retaining) walls and basins to maintain. Storm water outfalls that were previously approved are retained exactly as they were in the current development,” Geller said.

He said various sections of the development site will be supported by separate storm water management basins. Geller said the homes will be served by wells and septic systems. The homes will be custom built with the number of bedrooms and square footage to be determined on an individual basis, he said.

Approval and variances for the revised plan was granted in a unanimous vote by Vice Chairman Daniel Cardellichio and board members Nino Borrelli, Evelyn O’Donnell, Thomas Posch, Ronald Campos and Michael Sanclimenti.