Neighbors Angry About Condo Plan

The Dream Homes at the Pines will be a condo complex visible from Ocean Gate Drive. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  BERKELEY – Neighbors said that “Dream Homes at the Pines” will be a nightmare for them.

  The condo complex will be situated on 2.3 acres at the intersection of Louis Avenue and Orchard Avenue, fronting Ocean Gate Turnpike. It is zoned for multi-family homes. It will be built by local developer Dream Homes.

  Nearby resident Joanne Hannemann came to a recent Township Council meeting urging them to stop the development. She said that the neighborhood is very quiet with people taking walks through the woods and that would all be destroyed with a condo complex moving in.

  “When you’re walking, all you hear is birds and the sounds of nature and it takes you to another place,” she said. “There’s so much life in that 2.3 acres.”

  There has also been online chatter denouncing this project. Neighbors are angry about the trees that would have to come down and the impact on traffic. The development doesn’t fit with the single family homes on large properties that are around it.

  However, if you go closer to Route 9, there are other multi-family developments. The Mill Creek condos have been there for a long time. Closer to Veeder Lane, there’s the new Berkeley Crossings complex.

 Plans reviewed by The Berkeley Times in 2021 consisted of two, three-story townhouse buildings with a total of 17 units. One building will have 11 units and the other will have six. Each unit will be 1,832 square feet with a garage. There will be an 1,800 square feet fenced-in recreation area. There are plans for parking, two spots per unit, plus seven visitor spots and two handicap spots. These plans might have changed for the 2022 final approval.

  There will be one short driveway off Louis in and out of the development, and a gravel road off Ocean Gate Turnpike for emergency vehicles.

This was the proposed layout for the development in 2021. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  “We tried to buy it,” Mayor Carmen Amato told Hannemann about the land. The township sometimes buys land to preserve as open space. In this situation, though, the previous owner had a contract with Dream Homes that they couldn’t break.

  Hannemann said that since the meetings happened during the height of COVID-19, that people were not able to make it to the Planning Board meetings when this was discussed. She also suggested that the neighbors were not properly notified of the developer’s plans.

  Developers only need to mail notices to property owners within 200 feet.

  Berkeley’s planner, James Oris, said he would look into whether the proper notifications were done.

  “This council can’t control what was approved,” he said. “It was zoned before this administration. I feel bad. I know the mayor and council all feel bad. Let me look into the public notice issue.”

Photo by Chris Lundy

  The planning board approved some variances for the site. A variance is when a plan doesn’t fit with the town’s code but the planning board allows it.

  For example, the property is supposed to have two entrances, but since it fronts on two separate streets that was waived. Also, officials noted that two driveways would impact the character of the neighborhood. The development is not expected to generate enough traffic to warrant it.