TUCKERTON – A community action agency approved to build 24 duplexes has broken ground on property located at 375 East Main Street – directly across from the Grapevine Restaurant and Lounge.
O.C.E.A.N., Inc. originally received initial approval for the project in 2017 and indicated the site would include both single-family homes and a separate building to be used as a community center.
No kitchen facilities are planned for the community center, which will also be available for recreational activities. Residents may one day be able to fish from a stocked pond on site.
Plans to build tiny homes on the site were rejected by the Borough’s Land Use Board according to the Borough Administrator Jenny Gleghorn. The non-profit agency subsequently received approval for the one and two bedroom homes.
One bedroom units would be a total of 762 square feet; two bedroom units are planned for 960 square feet. Only half of the rentals would be two bedrooms.
Tucker’s Walk, as the project is called, was initially intended as affordable rental housing units for veterans and people with special needs. The 2017 plans suggested that seniors or disabled individuals might find housing options made available to them.
Alternatively, the original plans suggested that all units might be restricted to veterans in need of housing. It is unclear whether that remains the case as O.C.E.A.N., Inc.’s CEO Channell Wilkins has not responded to requests for information.
“We have already met our affordable obligations here,” said Gleghorn.
As a result, the new residential construction project does not come with requirements for a portion of the rentals to be listed as affordable housing.
According to the 2017 resolution entered by the Land Use Board, O.C.E.A.N., Inc. plans to maintain the site. Because the group receives federal funding, O.C.E.A.N., Inc. is required to maintain the site for twenty years.
O.C.E.A.N., Inc. reappeared before the Land Use Board and explained they were having issues getting funding for the project. They requested and received approval to complete the work in stages.
The Land Use Board agreed to a three-year phasing of the project with the first phase due for completion by November 2020.
Gleghorn said the clearing of the site may be to follow state law regarding time limits of approved projects.
No permits have been requested from O.C.E.A.N., Inc. or anyone else on their behalf regarding additional site work.
An organization named Community Quest, Inc. announced more than a decade ago that they planned to be the first to develop permanent housing for veterans on the same site. Their sign remains on the property now owned by O.C.E.A.N., Inc.