HOLMDEL — The planning board unanimously approved plans for a three-building apartment complex with 50 affordable units at 625 South Laurel Ave.
The development, dubbed the Holmdel Family Apartments, will be built and managed by the Walters Group, a Barnegat-based developer. The complex is part of the township’s 2019 affordable housing settlement agreement with the Fair Share Housing Center.
Because the complex is right along the municipal boundary with Hazlet, Hazlet sued Holmdel three separate times starting in August 2020 to stop the construction of the affordable housing complex. Last August, Holmdel reached a settlement agreement with Hazlet.
At Tuesday’s planning board meeting, the developer presented and agreed to plans that would move the complex 200 feet the municipal border and maintain a buffer of trees and plants between the apartment complex and the backyards of people’s houses in Hazlet.
“I don’t want to see dead trees and the loss of buffers for the Hazlet residents,” board member Joyce Ploussas said. “I want it maintained.”
Board member William Kastning asked about the contaminants found at the site during soil testing.
“There’s been contaminants associated with previous use that have been found that are being remediated and removed,” said Damien Del Duca, attorney for the developer.
The new plan would eliminate one of the driveways onto the site so there would be only one road leading into and out of the complex from Middle Road.
Board planner Jen Beahm expressed concern that having only one entry and exit could impede emergency services in the event that the road became blocked.
The developer agreed to add a bollard to the single entry and exit that would split the road in half, reducing the possibility of a completely blocked road. It also agreed to move two trees to allow emergency vehicles the ability to pull into the complex on the South Laurel Avenue side through the grass. It also agreed to plant trees with a minimum canopy of 12 feet around the parking lot to avoid branches impeding ambulances.
Edmond Speitel Jr., vice president of development for the developer, said in addition to apartments, the complex will house an indoor gym, a computer lab and an outdoor playground. Garbage will be picked up twice a week.
In response to a question by Kastning, Speitel said the developers will accept residents who don’t have cars and said there is a bus stop within half a mile of the development. The nearest bus stop is a mile north at the intersection of Route 36 and South Laurel Avenue. Bus 817 from Perth Amboy to Middletown passes by stop 24642.
Del Duca said Walters Group applied to the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency “in order for this community to be a reality … to get tax credit financing.”
He said, a condition of receiving the tax credit, the developer has to complete construction and “get our first certificate of occupancy” by late 2023.
“This has been a long process,” Del Duca said. “We’re very anxious to start work so we can put this community into service, comply with our obligations and help Holmdel comply with its obligations.”
Olivia Liu is a reporter covering transportation, Red Bank and western Monmouth County. She can be reached at [email protected]