BERKELEY – A development of 56 homes will be coming to the Manitou Park section of Berkeley Township in the next few years.
Manitou is north of the town of South Toms River. It’s a small grid of homes and churches. Most people get there from Railroad Avenue at the intersection with Route 530. The new development is not to be confused with the mixed use retail and residential that’s going in behind the Wawa.
Homes For All is planning a build-out of 56 homes called Autumn Ridge at Manitou. Five of these homes and the model are either built or started. They are on First Street, between 4th and 5th Avenue.
The remaining 50 homes will actually be on streets that aren’t built yet on the opposite end of the neighborhood. If you take 1st Avenue (not 1st Street) as west as it can go, it passes electrical wires and ends in woods. These woods and the dirt trails are often crisscrossed by ATV riders. Roads will be built out there. Another east-west road will also be extended.
The entire project is expected to take about two years, said Glen McDonald, Executive Director of Homes For All.
The homes will have three or four bedrooms. The pricing will be determined based on the market when they are available, he said. Fitting in with the philosophy of Homes For All, these will be workforce housing with an affordable housing component.
Homes For All has a history working with the township. They built 80 homes over a decade ago. Some were on extended streets. Some were on lots that had abandoned homes that needed to be demolished. In paving the streets they also brought water and sewer into the community that was on wells and septic tanks.
McDonald said that Homes For All’s relationship with the town leaders has always been positive.
This recent development started on paper several years ago, Mayor Carmen Amato said.
The township provided money for them from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund which comes from a permit surcharge on all development – not taxes. When a developer comes in to build homes that are not deemed affordable housing, the town is able to give money to either Homes for All or Habitat for Humanity to help people with financial challenges get a new house.
In related news, the township also recently authorized a contract with Langan Engineering for the Manitou School House renovation. Built in 1929, it is on the register of historic buildings. It’s been dilapidated for a number of years but they want to give it new life.
“The residents don’t have a community center. The building is neglected and needs to be rehabbed,” Amato said. Homes For All bought land from the town which is being used to offset the cost of improvement. “They really need and want a community center. Kids are out playing and they have to look at this dilapidated eyesore.”