BRICK – Should a developer be allowed to build 14 single family homes in an area that is zoned for multi-family dwellings, such as apartments and condos?
This was the question put before the Board of Adjustment during a special meeting held on May 12 when an applicant, Herbertsville 561 LLC ℅ Larry Freimark of Southfield, Michigan, was seeking a use variance and a preliminary major subdivision for a five-acre parcel, located on the northeast corner of Herbertsville Road and Winding River Road.
Zoning describes what town leaders will allow on a piece of property. If a developer wants to build something that is not currently allowed, they apply before the Board of Adjustment for a variance to get approved to build it. Splitting the parcel into several lots that would be sold is called subdividing.
There is a 1930s-era home on the site, which later became the Olde Riverside Day Camp & School, which has not operated for the past several years.
The five-acre tract is one of three parcels in the area that are zoned RM for multi-family. The other two parcels are Winding River Village condominiums, an age-restricted community, located behind the site, and Maple Leaf Park apartments, located across Herbertsville Road from the proposed development.
The applicant was not present during the Zoom meeting, but was represented by attorney John Paul Doyle. He had also retained engineer/planner William Stevens, architect Thomas Brennan and traffic consultant Scott Kennel who were all present. The property is owned by Tzvi Ciner of Royal Oak, Michigan, who was not in attendance.
Doyle said they had submitted an application for a Use Variance for the parcel in order to build single family homes instead of multifamily housing.
“The only reason, it would seem, that we are in that zone is because otherwise you would have two separate RM zones, and so we are the bridge,” he said.
This is the only vacant multi-family zone parcel that still exists in Herbertsville, where single-family housing predominates, Doyle said.
Other permitted uses for the site include a public library, a first aid squad, a firehouse or places of assembly, such as a house of worship.
The attorney said his client was also seeking a preliminary subdivision to allow for 15 lots – 14 residential and a drainage basin, which would be located at the topographic low point of the site.
“It seemed better to us to focus on the Use Variance,” he said. “It seemed it would be better for all concerned and we focus tonight on the question of…whether this site would be better developed as a zone for multi-family or, as proposed, single family.”
The parcel would be developed as a single-road cul-de-sac. It would have curbs and sidewalks on both sides and would come off Winding River Road. There would be no driveways or access onto Herbertsville Road, the attorney said.
The average lot size for the homes averages 11,000 square feet, or 2.8 houses per acre, less than half the permitted density of the RM zone.
The three- and four-bedroom homes would contain between 2,700 to 3,250 square feet, basements, attics and two-car garages.
They would be sold on the open market, Doyle said, and would most likely sell in the $500,000 range, he added.
The multi-family zone requires 25 acres “because multi-family uses are large, with the need for significant parking and common facilities that would not fit on the five-acre site,” Doyle said.
The applicant had already received approval from the Brick Environmental Commission, a conditional approval from the Ocean County Planning Board (since Herbertsville Road is a County road), a conditional approval from the Fire Safety Bureau, and the police traffic report, he said.
Stevens, the engineer, said the applicant would need a variance anyway to develop multi-family housing at the site to build on five acres since 25 is required.
Multi-family standards allow six units per acre, which is more dense than the property should be utilized for development, he added.
“There has to be some relief granted, otherwise the property would be zoned into inutility,” Stevens said, which would create an undue hardship, which can be used as grounds to obtain a Use Variance.
During public comment nearby resident John Genz said he had tried, unsuccessfully, to find information online about the Michigan-based builder.
“Has he built any local projects so we could see what they look like? Have you done a background check?” Genz asked.
Doyle said there is no legal requirement for a background check on the builder. However, the developer would have to post bonds for the improvements and must use a certified contractor.
Herbertsville resident Katie Bender asked how a person from Michigan was able to find and purchase the property.
Doyle said that real estate is advertised nationally, so a developer could find and purchase the land on the internet.
The Board of Adjustment unanimously approved the application. A second hearing, not yet scheduled, would provide site plan details for final approval.