Route 35 Village Proposal Postponed

first_imgBy Joseph SapiaMIDDLETOWN – The township Planning Board has delayed hearing the Route 35 Village project – a combination of almost 340,000 square feet of commercial space and 350 townhouses – until at least early December.At its June 15 meeting, the Planning Board said it would combine hearing the “Shoppes at Middletown” commercial and the “Oaks at Middletown” residential proposals – actually separate applications for different parts of a 118-acre tract along Route 35, so the board and public could better comprehend the various aspects, such as engineering, traffic and other related components. The 118 acres is between Route 35 North, Kings Highway East, Carriage Drive and Kanes Lane – identifiable by the iconic Calico the Clown advertising sign at the Spirits Unlimited liquor store.But when the board met Wednesday, Sept.7, the township Planning and Community Development Department had yet to deem the Oaks application complete. The Planning Board could have continued hearing the Shoppes application, which it had started hearing June 1 and continued June 15, but it decided to postpone the hearing until both could be heard at the same time. The Planning Board also expressed a concern about first being able to review additional information submitted by John Orrico/Village 35, the Purchase, New York, developer proposing the Shoppes.“I see no purpose of moving forward (at this time),” Planning Board Chairman John Deus said at the meeting.The Planning and Community Development Department has to rule on the completeness of the townhouse application within 45 days of its submission, or by about Oct. 10. But the Planning Board said the earliest available date to begin hearing the Route 35 Village proposal would be Dec. 7 due to scheduling and public noticing.Toll Brothers, the Horsham, Pennsylvania, company that proposes the Oaks, had submitted an application May 27. The Planning and Community Development Department requested more information, resulting in Toll Brothers resubmitting on Aug. 25 – which put the October deadline in place.Marc Policastro, lawyer for the Shoppes, requested the Shoppes hearing continue at the Sept. 7 meeting. But the board denied that.“Everything to move forward is as a consolidated application,” Deus said.“There’s no practical way this board can hold two concurrent hearings,” said Planning Board Attorney James Gorman. “Confusing the public, confusing the board didn’t make sense.”While Dec. 7 is the earliest the Planning Board could entertain the Shoppes-Oaks hearing, a decision on a specific date would be made down the road, Gorman said.Outside of the Planning Board meeting, representatives of the Shoppes declined to comment.Orrico has maintained he would do no interviews until after the application is heard.John A. Giunco, the lawyer for the Oaks, said Toll Brothers looks to meet all township demands. “Toll Brothers takes this application very seriously,” Giunco said.Opponents, however, were glad the Planning Board held off on continuing any aspect of the Route 35 Village project.“We’re obviously happy it was pushed out,” said Pauline Hynes, who lives in the township’s Chapel Hill section. “Any delay is good.”“The residents were very pleased with the board’s decision, because the only way to review this application is to be combined,” said Monica Manning, president of the Minding Middletown, LLC citizens action group.Minding Middletown expressed concern about the suburbanization of Kings Highway East, the need for a movie theater and traffic flow. Minding Middletown is putting together a team of experts to fight the project, including Red Bank lawyer Ron Gasiorowski. It also runs the StopVillage35 Facebook page and holds information sessions.The Shoppes at Middletown is envisioned to be 338,455 square feet of retail, restaurant and movie theater space with 1,786 parking spaces on 52 acres along Route 35. On the rear 66 acres of the 118-acre tract, Toll Brothers would build 350 townhouses – 280 units at open-market price and 70 units of affordable housing.The 118 acres is owned by Mountain Hill LLC, which is the local Azzolina-Scaduto family. Mountain Hill’s lawyer Gary Fox declined comment.Before the Planning Board meeting started, residents expressed their opposition to all or parts of the Route 35 Village project.“Who wants it?” said Jean Ferrando, 75, who lives off Kings Highway East. “I don’t want it. There’s going to be a lot of traffic. (Route) 35 is bad enough.”Builders have a right to build, but “you’ve got to be fair to everybody,” said Christa Costello, who has lived off Kings Highway East for 16 years.“We’re really trying to downscale this a little bit,” said Costello, who expressed concern about a buffer between the project and her Kings Landing development.“This is my third move in Middletown,” Costello said. “We moved over here because it was really country-like. Kings Highway (East), what are they going to do with that nice country road? There’s going to be a highway now.”Marc Cofone, 46, of the Belford section was accompanying his aunt, Carolyn Crimmins, who lives in Kings Landing. He said a major concern was residential property values going down because of the development.“I’m totally disgusted they are doing this to the people living there for more than 30 years,” Crimmins said.last_img

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