BRICK – Testimony continued during a second meeting before the Planning Board for an application to build 59 homes on some 30 acres of wooded property owned by Visitation Roman Catholic Church and the diocese of Trenton.
Planning Board hearings are typically held at town hall, but due to the large crowd of residents who are opposed to the development and want to keep the land in its natural state, the meetings have been held at a much larger room at the Civic Plaza.
Texas home builder D.R. Horton has plans to build “The Havens at Metedeconk,” a development of homes ranging from 2,600 square feet to 3,200 square feet.
During the Planning Board hearing held on April 18, traffic engineer John Ray presented his traffic analysis for the area of the proposed development, including two access points on Laurel Avenue and the two intersections where Laurel Avenue meets Drum Point Road – which has a traffic signal – and Mantoloking Road, which does not have a traffic signal.
Ray conducted traffic counts in May 2021 and also used historical data provided from the NJ Department of Transportation from October 2018 and the summer of 2015, he said.
During the morning rush hour, Ray said the development would generate an average of 12 cars inbound and 34 cars outbound, for a total of 46.
During the afternoon rush hour, he said there would be an average of 38 cars inbound and 22 outbound, for a total of 60 vehicles.
Significant delays for cars trying to make a left onto Mantoloking Road from Laurel Avenue is already an issue, Ray said, and local residents know to avoid it.
There is not enough traffic at Laurel Avenue and Mantoloking Road to warrant a signalized intersection, even with the addition of the 59 homes, Ray said. “The traffic would have to increase tenfold,” he said.
Ray said data shows that the number of traffic accidents tends to increase at signalized intersections, but they are usually less serious crashes.
He said the additional traffic would add less than one percent to the existing traffic during peak hours, and the two access points and two intersections could safely handle the additional traffic.
Attorney Stuart Lieberman, who was hired by the environmental group Save Barnegat Bay, asked if the planned four and five bedroom homes might generate more traffic than Ray projected.
“Are there going to be basement apartments?” Lieberman asked. “There is a history of some neighboring municipalities that have basement apartments.”
The applicant’s attorney John Giunco said plans do not include basement apartments. Ray said his analysis “does not count cars per house, it counts traffic.”
Lieberman asked if the traffic analysis took the increased summer traffic into account.
Ray said traffic counts focus only on peak hours “over and over and over again, year-round.”
Residents questioned Ray on the additional traffic affecting everything from evacuation routes, the impact on the intersection of Drum Point Road and Hooper Avenue, student arrivals and departures at the nearby Osbornville School, emergency vehicle access, and much more.
Responding to a resident who asked if the township had conducted its own traffic analysis, Planning Board traffic consultant John Jahr said that Ray’s data is accurate and that the application is fully-conforming.
Planning Board Chairman Bernard Cooke read a letter from Police Chief James Riccio, who said that Traffic Safety does not have any recommendations to make for the proposed development that would prevent the application from going forward.
The next special Planning Board meeting for this application is planned for Monday, May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Civic Plaza.