Recap of last night’s board meeting on the new Eagle Ridge (The Parke) Project

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The Lakewood Planning Board heard tonight the proposal to build “The Parke” project, which will include 556 duplex homes with basements. Here are the main takeaways:

Discussion at the meeting: Is the board allowed to vote against the project?

There were three lawyers present at tonight’s Planning Board meeting. 1) The attorney for the township board, John Jackson. 2) The attorney for the developers of the project. 3) The attorney for the Fairways residents (who live nearby and are opposed to the project), Edward Liston.

Board attorney John Jackson asked both attorneys for their interpretations of whether the board has the right to reject the application, or whether it was a “by right” application, meaning the board was constrained to approve it because it meets all the rules.

Fairways attorney Edward Liston says the board has the right to reject it based on the potential impact on the community.

The developer attorney says if it complies with the masterplan (and it does), it must be approved regardless of board member’s feelings. [As reported here weeks ago, the Township Planning Board adopts a Master Plan (a zoning plan for the entire Lakewood) every 10 years. The developers plan for Eagle Ridge conform with the current Master Plan (which was compiled in 2017 and voted into law as ordinances by the Township Committee) and therefore the township cannot deny it without being hit with an expensive lawsuit – paid for by the taxpayers, being that the application is a conforming one, without relying on any variances. If, however, the developers were submitting a plan with variances to the township’s zoning plan (a variance is a request to deviate from current zoning requirements), then the planning board can easily deny it.]

If approved, how long will the project take to build?

There will be five phases for construction, each one taking between 1 and 5 years.

Phase 1 would be 108 units, Phase 2 would be 100 units, Phase 3 would be 104 units, Phase 4 would be 114 and the final phase would be about 120 units. 

Will anything be done to address the traffic?

Board member Levy Isaacson asked the developer to pursue putting an access road on Faraday Ave. As proposed, there’s one entry/exit to the neighborhood on Cross St, and the county is supposedly putting in a signal there. The traffic engineer says there’s a rail line parallel to Faraday Ave which means more governmental red tape before you can add a crossing/another access point to The Parke neighborhood. The traffic engineer says building The Parke would nearly triple some traffic wait times at Route 9 and Cross Street. Waits of 12 minutes possible, according to plans.

Cross Street/Route 9 is at traffic service level F. Board member asks: What is the worst level of service? F.

The traffic engineer says:
1) The main access will be from Cross Street with a traffic light to handle the project.
2) Ocean County is working on updates to the area including a third turning lane on Cross Street.
3) Ocean county is also proposing a traffic signal at Augusta and Cross.

What if the county does not do Route 9 improvements? Stern says: “Can we make it a condition of the fifth phase that it not go forward unless the Route 9 improvements are done?”

“Cross Street and Route 9 could be a catastrophic failure,” Stern said.

Professional planner Brian Flannery, who represents the developers, had the following to say regarding traffic and congestion that would ensue in the surrounding roads: “We are going to be addressing the traffic impact”. Flannery says the traffic issue will be eased by the time a shovel is in the ground. He says the proposal is the best option for the development because other plans, like adding schools, would make traffic matters worse.

Decision?

“I see this going at least two or three evenings,” says board member Justin Flancbaum. Board will NOT vote on application tonight. Testimony will continue on April 16th 6:00 pm.

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