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Howell development: This land could soon be hundreds of homes

The Views at Monmouth Manor could bring 319 housing units to Howell.

Alex N. Gecan, Asbury Park Press

HOWELL – The Planning Board has put off a final decision on hundreds of new homes at Fort Plains and Sunnyside roads, waiting on final testimony from the developer’s architect and for its own professionals to weigh in on landscaping, lighting and other components of the proposal.

Landscaping plans for FP Howell LLC’s proposed 319-unit development, named the Views at Monmouth Manor, were only generated this week, and several board professionals had not even seen them before the board met Thursday. The proposed development includes 155 market-rate townhouses, 72 market-rate single-family units and 92 affordable condominium units.

“This is the first I’m seeing this,” board Planner Jennifer Beahm said Thursday. Board Engineer Laura Neumann and Certified Tree Expert Shari Spero had also not had a chance to review the plan.

Kenneth Pape, an attorney for the developer, said the proposal may require a design waiver since overlapping lighting requirements were impossible to reconcile.

But in other areas, the proposal had been tailored to avoid needing other waivers, such as a section that had been redesigned so as not to fall across a riparian buffer, said Stuart Challoner, an engineer for the developer.

In the market-rate sections of the proposed development, there would be several hundred more parking spaces than required, according to Nick Verderese, a traffic engineer testifying for FP Howell. His projections presumed that new residents would park in their own garages. But since a common practice in town is to use garages as storage rather than as parking, Board Attorney Ron Cucchiaro suggested either instituting deed restrictions mandating that garages be used for parking, or to exclude garages entirely from the count of available spots.

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Verderese said that, even without counting garages, there should be more than enough parking in the proposed development.

In the affordable section, the 92 planned units would require 184 parking spots, and current plans call for 190.

The affordable component of the proposal would fulfill part of the township’s ongoing obligation to increase its affordable housing stock following a settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center in 2018. Some planning board members have balked at development of this density at previous meetings, but Cucchiaro has warned that were they to reject it, the courts could order even denser development.

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In addition to the hundreds of homes, the development is slated to include “two surface area basins, two monument style identification signs, refuse enclosures, landscape and lighting improvements and parking,” according to FP Howell’s proposal.

At present, the nearly 100-acre parcel is almost completely undeveloped. There is one single-level home on it, and there are wetlands on the eastern portion.

Local environmentalists and state officials have said that a lynx, a protected endangered species, has been spotted on the land, along with blue herons, ospreys and other rare birds.

Also earlier:  Howell settles affordable housing suits

The board will hear final testimony from FP Howell on Dec. 16, and will likely hear from the public on the application the same evening.

At Thursday’s meeting the Planning Board also approved a new site plan for  New Jersey Natural Gas Co. training site on Fairfield Road, giving the go-ahead for three open-air pavilions, four faux stormwater manholes and three faux stormwater inlets, as well as gates, walls around a fire pit and relocation of some of the company’s hardware.

Alex N. Gecan covers local news and unsolved mysteries for the Asbury Park Press. You can reach him at 732-547-1365 or [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @GeeksterTweets.

Source: Asbury Park

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