A vote on whether to approve 24 new condominium units at a shopping center on Hooper Avenue in the Silverton section of the township was halted after a member of the Toms River zoning board cited a dispute mid -hearing and recused himself, delaying the roll call to a future meeting where an alternate member will cast what may be the deciding vote.
The owner of the new mall at 1922 Hooper Avenue, a shopping complex that currently houses a Buy Rite liquor store, restaurants, a salon and other businesses, is looking to add 24 condominiums to the back of the site, which will which is currently approved for warehouse use. The project was met with some opposition, although the plaintiff’s attorney, Joseph D. Coronato, pointed out that the opponents did not live near the proposed expansion.
Under the proposal, site owner State Liquors LLC would build eight one-bedroom units, eight two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units on the site. Coronato said since the application was last heard by the council, its designers had added a new path allowing students to walk to a school bus stop as well as some recreational areas.
“Children would be picked up for school on Church Road,” said project engineer Matthew Wilder, estimating a 630-foot walk, “which is comparable to a dead-end cul-de-sac” .
“The township planner rightly pointed out certain multi-family standards,” Wilder told council members, referring to recreation areas. “We don’t have to add them, because it’s a usability gap, and we didn’t have those features originally.”
The recreational area would be located south of the proposed building at the end of a parking lot that ends in a cul-de-sac.
Scott Kennel, a traffic engineer called to testify on behalf of the developer, said the condominiums would generate a small amount of passenger traffic, but less than what would be present at the site if it were developed as a warehouse. , which was approved in 2008. .
“If it were a warehouse, the truck activity would be more intense,” Wilder said, predicting that for a warehouse the size that could fit on the property, the traffic would be mostly large trucks.
A member of council wondered if the use of the warehouse would indeed be more intensive.
“With a warehouse, there’s some flexibility because they can go off-peak,” said board member Nels Luthman.
Two residents strongly opposed the request. The first member of the public to speak, Robert Tormollan, said the request “shouldn’t even be heard” given its deviation from the property’s underlying zoning.
“I don’t think this project should even be considered – it doesn’t meet zoning requirements,” he said. “You can do studies say what you want, ten or thirteen cars coming in and out, but we all know the reality. This is not a residential area.”
Another resident, Arthur Anderson, also spoke out against the proposal.
It was after the public comment portion of the meeting that Dana Tormollan, an alternate board member hearing the matter, announced that she would recuse herself from the remainder of the matter due to a “comment public”.
It was unclear what relationship Tormollan had with Robert Tormollan, who spoke, as well as Cecilia Tormollan, of the same address, who also opposed the candidacy.
Dana Tormollan’s recusal led to a total of only six board members eligible to vote on the nomination out of a seven-member board. Since the application for the 24 condominium units requires a usage spread, a super majority of council members must vote in favor of the application for it to be accepted rather than a simple 5-4 majority. only six council members can vote, all would have to vote in favor of granting the waiver for the development to be permitted.
“I think since it’s a usage gap and a supermajority is required, I would prefer the seven [votes]”, Coronato said.
At the end of the meeting, Coronato made a last-minute proposal to board members to limit the age of the resort to residents aged 45 and over, which would limit the number of school-aged children. who reside there.
“My clients would consider doing that,” he said, saying they believe there is a market for age-restricted housing near the Hooper Avenue business district. “Some people are selling their house in Holiday City where they had a reverse mortgage, say, and it allows them to stay close to their neighbors.”
Council solicitor Melanie Appleby said she would need to conduct legal research to determine the legality of imposing an age limit on ownership of 45. Generally, the law provides age restrictions for developments for those 55 and older to comply with federal housing policies.
“You’ll never find the most ideal place, no matter where you are, but this area is definitely more hospitable for apartments in that it has more services,” Coronato said. “We’re not into a bait and switch here.”
The nominees will return to the board at its April 28 meeting, where little more than a closing statement and vote is expected to be heard before a seven-member board has a chance. to approve or deny the waiver.