MANCHESTER – The Manchester Township Council recently adopted changes that would allow independent living communities in certain zones.
Ordinance 18-032 amended the township’s land use and development code to allow for such communities. Those communities are “age-restricted (55 years and older) multifamily rental properties with a central dining facility that provides residents access to meals as part of their monthly [rent]. Other services may include housekeeping, linen service, hair/nail salon, bank and transportation, as well as social (i.e. theater) and fitness/recreational activities. It does not include the direct provision of any health care services requiring state licensure.”
The ordinance allows for such facilities to be built in Highway Development 3 and Highway Development 3A zones.
A zoning map produced by Maser Consulting, based in Red Bank, shows five such areas in the township: one north of Leisure Ridge, one west of Leisure Knoll, and the remaining near the Toms River Township border, west of Pine Lake Park.
Gary T. Sylvester, CPWM, the township’s planning director, said while both zones require a three-acre building minimum, the HD-3 zones require a minimum rear and/or side yard of 60 feet when the yard is adjacent to residential zoning districts. The HD-3A zones have a minimum side yard setback of 100 feet (as opposed to 50) along western and northern property lines and 15 feet (as opposed to 50) along eastern property line.
Councilman President Craig Wallis assured Manchester residents that there were no plans to bring such a facility to the township. Creating the conditional use in the HD-3 and HD-3A zones gave the township “more control” over where such a facility may be built.
Conditional uses can almost be described as pre-approved variances; the Barnes Law Group in Egg Harbor Township said conditional uses shift the focus from whether the use should be allowed at all to whether the applicant has shown that the specified conditions have been met.
An independent living community must be built on a lot at least 15 acres large. They must follow the existing setback and buffer requirements for each zone. They can have a maximum eight-units-per-acre density. Building height must conform with existing height definitions in the land use and development.
An applicant must also provide 1.2 off-street parking spaces per residential unit.
An applicant can also establish as a subordinate use to an independent living community a third-party home health agency, with the proper licenses and certifications.
The Manchester Planning Board approved the ordinance for Council consideration without any recommendations.