Apartment Building Plan Pulled In Lakehurst

This empty lot at 117 Union Avenue won’t be used for a two-story rental unit as was originally proposed. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  LAKEHURST – A plan to build a two-story apartment building on Union Avenue was pulled before a vote was taken by the Borough Land Use Board.

  An empty lot on 117 Union Avenue was the site for the proposed project. It falls between a funeral home and a building that houses a laundromat and a now-closed donut shop.

  By borough code, the downtown business district allows for the second floor of a business to have apartment rentals but not the first floor, which is left for business space. The plan proposed only apartments. Based on comments by the Board and testimony from the public, the application would most likely have failed.

An engineering map presented during a recent Lakehurst Land Use Board meeting by engineer Brian Flannery shows the proposed location of a two-story apartment building which was withdrawn by the applicant before the Board could vote. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  The applicant, 117 Union Rd LLC, was represented by attorney Salvatore Alfieri and professional planner Brian Flannery during the session which featured six voting members and an audience of around 10 people.

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  Alfieri called for the application’s continuation. This allows for a new concept to be presented before the Board next month.

  The application did not involve a presentation of a site plan because first the developer needed a use variance. This means approval to build something that wasn’t allowed. They wanted a two-story building with apartments on each floor. They would have one to two bedrooms.

  Land Use Attorney Richard Stanzione stressed that the current borough ordinance allows for apartment rentals on the second floor but not the first floor.

  Flannery, a licensed professional engineer based in Jackson and the applicant’s only witness, said “we are targeting empty nesters” but acknowledged that the units would have to be available for rental to anyone.

  “The property is on Union Avenue to the rear of Pine Street and across from the intersection of a church. Looking at the floor plan of the two-story building, 2,000 square feet with eight apartments, three of them would be one-bedroom apartments, at 600 square feet and two-bedroom apartments allowing for a room for someone to come visit or in the unlikely event that a young couple is blessed with a child.” The two, two-bedroom apartments would be 800 square feet.

Lakehurst Land Use Board attorney Richard Stanzione, seated at right joins other professional staff and members of the Land Use Board during a recent meeting. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Alfieri said the applicant would meet any affordable housing obligation requirement. Flannery added that a buffer would not be necessary and that two stories of apartments made sense. “We’ll have plans drawn up and landscaping will be done to meet the character of the neighborhood,” the engineer said.

  He added that lighting for security would be shielded from neighbors’ view and that apartment tenants would separate recycling from their trash. Flannery pointed out the residential apartment building already existing behind the property.

  Flannery added, “Lakehurst is pretty well developed. This would be an appropriate market.”

  Land Use Board member Sidney Hooper took exception to that remark saying Flannery was “promoting an opinion as their representative.”

  Stanzione however said that as Flannery was a “recognized professional planner, they have the right to present a professional opinion.”

  Flannery told the Board that there would be no significant traffic impact were the variance permitted and the apartment complex allowed to be built.

  Land Use Board Chair David Burton expressed that the borough’s business district was limited and he had concerns about “eliminating part of it in the middle of the zone.” He also voiced concerns about future applications that could come before the Board as this application could set a precedent if passed.

  Stanzione reminded him that, “every application is to stand on its own. The Board decides if it is a negative or positive impact.”

  Board member Kori Brennan agreed with Burton that such a move to allow two story residential units in the business district “was a possible detriment to business.”

  “You are in the middle of the business zone. I don’t think any empty nesters are coming to Lakehurst,” Burton said.

  Resident Karen McPartlin said during the public comment period that “I’m a realtor and to lose those two business spots would not be in the best interest of town. Business will bring more people in.”

  Ingrida Seduikis felt the proposed structure would be too close to her apartment building if approved.

Photo by Chris Lundy

  Another resident pointed out that “you can’t limit who you rent to. They may or may not have children. I’d like to see it stay to what it was meant to be.”

  Patrick McPartlin said, “I’m not anti-development but I think this is the wrong use. It sounds like a hotel and I think we can agree there would more than just empty nesters here.”

  Moments before a vote could be taken, Alfieri asked the Board to carry it to another meeting in order to present an alternate plan.

  “You have the right to allow that or not,” Stanzione told Board members.

  Burton said the Board would grant it and “give them one more crack at it.” The Board will hear a revised application during its July 25 meeting.

  Mayor Harry Robbins and Council President Steven Oglesby stepped down from the dais at the start of the application hearing.