MANCHESTER – Earlier this month contractors started cutting down trees at the future site of the Presidential Gardens development on Route 37. They did so without proper permit approval from the township.
Mayor Robert Arace, noting he had campaigned on preservation, put an immediate stop work order on the construction.
The development would be built on a 51.92-acre tract of land diagonal from the township’s Town Hall. It is planned to consist of 519 rental apartments in 26 buildings.
Most of them would be one- and two-bedroom units with the option of some units having three bedrooms to meet affordable housing regulations. The complex would also include amenities such as a clubhouse pool and recreational area.
The mayor said the initial site approval was at a planning board meeting in 2012. The project was granted a site approval extension by the planning board in 2022, ten years later. Due to approvals by previous administrations, the project will likely continue against the mayor’s wishes.
Mayor Arace emphasized that proper permits and agreements are imperative. “Preservation of our town is a top priority for my administration. However, since we are faced with these site approvals from before my time, we are ensuring that no development will be allowed to move forward without the proper permits and approvals in place.”
The Presidential Gardens Development project has been fighting for state approval for more than a decade and recently planned to move forward as Presidential Gardens at Manchester LLC. It received a key approval from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).
A settlement agreement included a Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) individual permit authorization for the project.
The mayor said his administration was taking steps to ensure that the proper permits are obtained and the project is compliant with local regulations prior to any further construction that could take place.