Following a court order, Middletown's Planning Board will draft a new resolution better detailing why they denied the application for a controversial 342-unit apartment complex in Lincroft.
Planning Board members voted unanimously in June 2012 to deny the units on the 62-acre former Avaya offices site. But an appeal by developer Four Ponds took the case to state Superior Court, where a decision was made that Middletown planners must clarify their denial.
"What the judge is basically saying is, he wants to hear from the board," said board attorney James Gorman during a special Planning Board meeting held Wednesday night.
The updated resolution will reflect that board members do not believe the site cannot safely accommodate the units since the topography forces buildings to be condensed, said board member Kevin Settembrino. Proposed roads inside the proposed complex, for example, were too narrow and could cause trouble for emergency vehicles.
"Those deficiencies cause safety issues," Settembrino said.
The applicant didn't try to mitigate the board's concerns, members said, leading to the denial.
No formal action was taken by the board Wednesday night, but Gorman said that he will prepare the updated resolution this week. Board members will vote on the resolution during a regular meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 6:30 p.m. in town hall.
Further testimony and public comment were not allowed to be heard by the board at the Wednesday meeting, which was called for board members to discuss the new resolution, according to Gorman. About 30 residents attended to watch the proceedings.
The project was first brought before the Planning Board on May 4, 2011, but was quickly met with disapproval from local residents.
The opposition was led by community groups Lincroft Village Green Association and SONIC, which hired Red Bank attorney Ron Gasiorowski to represent them.
During the final hearing last year, Gasiorowski brought forward three professional witnesses—all of whom said that the Four Ponds application would create many problems both for surrounding residents and those in the development itself.
Among them was a civil engineer specializing in traffic coordination and planning who testified that several of the streets in the proposed development were not wide enough to allow sufficient parking and large vehicles like school buses and garbage trucks to get through. This was in addition to the overabundance of traffic the development would bring at nearby intersections.
Outspoken residents have shared their concerns about the proposal's potential impact on their community. Several said they had moved to the area to get away from overcrowded places like Staten Island, Brooklyn, Hoboken and Queens.
But planning and engineering professionals testified that the proposal fully complied with the township’s zoning requirements. For example, 5.5 units are allowed per acre, a half more than what the plans called for.