OCEAN TOWNSHIP: The first public announcement of a possible new development at Deal Road and NJ Highway 35 came back in 2016, as recalled by a locally based developer, Paramount Realty. A scaled-down version of Paramount's initial plans were presented to the public in a presentation at the Ocean Township High School auditorium in April of 2017. Photos of that meeting are shown with the report.
Whereas the initial plans showed 255 residential units and 50,000 Square feet of commercial space, the plans presented in April (photos) were substantially downsized to 70 residential units, 50,000 square feet of retail, and an extended stay Marriott Residence Inn.
After meeting and listening to many of the residents' concerns over the months since April, the developer has made even more significant updates and modifications to the overall plan. The developer, Maurice Zekaria, has grown up and continues to live in Ocean Township.
During this time the Ocean Council introduced a revised, new zoning ordinance. In a request for review Council made of the Planning Board, the Board agreed that the new ordinance was consistent with the current master plan. There was one minor change proposed, clarification of the term "school".
The existing owner of the property, Ahold (Stop and Shop) has a court case scheduled for February, and reportedly they are confident that they will win, and believe they will be able to build a much larger development, perhaps without many of the traffic improvements now proposed by Zekaria.
The changes proposed by Zekaria/Paramount are reflected below and will be presented in more detail on Jan. 4th at 7 p.m. in the Ocean High School auditorium. Public attendance is anticipated by the developer and response to the public by the developer and subject experts will be the format encouraged. Ocean officials will not participate, per Mayor Chris Siciliano in the December 28 Council Workshop meeting.
The changes are:
The location of the proposed Marriott Resident Inn (Extended Stay) will be located in the northern section of the parcel of property. It will be buffered by the existing trees on both sides. The change will mean a much less noisy environment as compared to that of the heavy traffic early A.M. and late P.M. that would have been present if LA Fitness stayed in that spot.
Architectural modifications to the original planned exterior of the Marriott makes it more consistent with Town Center atmosphere. Also the large structure will be far away from Deal Rd/Logan Rd.
The large 35,000 square foot fitness box will be replaced with two smaller side-by-side 13,000 square foot retail buildings for small users. The site will have a look much like the Grove at Shrewsbury, a more natural look and feel and a smaller square footage overall, Zekaria noted.
Between the two small retail buildings the developer will build a "park". It will have outdoor seating, a playground, bocce court, beautiful landscaping, and historic preserved items like the artesian well.
A small dog park will also be built. It will be a park for all of local animal lovers to sit and relax as they watch their pets.
"The Turning Point" restaurant will be the only real visible building from Deal Road. The space is beautifully designed in and out, with outdoor seating and a plush, beautiful Landscaper area on the Deal Road side.
There will be substantial landscaping and nice tall trees along a large section of Deal Road. That addition will act as a buffer to address many concerns the developer has heard since his presentation in April. Most of the trees to be removed are weeds, brush, and trees less than 9 inch in diameter. Many new trees will be planted throughout the development as well.
Trees will be added behind the future convenience store to buffer activity from the Deal Road side.
There will be fewer residential units to allow a larger buffer to the existing library; a lot of trees instead.
An added access drive aisle to the residential units, from Route 35 and the commercial section of the property will alleviate traffic to Deal Rd/Logan in both the A.M. and P.M.
If allowed, a one-way, traffic controlled access point to the library property will eliminate the left turn into the library entrance off Deal Rd. which will help the current congestion in that area.
There will be a "deed restriction" to the property to avoid the hotel becoming resident housing.
Hundreds of local jobs will support construction. Hundreds of permanent local jobs are anticipated.
The developer will restore several historic items such as the existing Artesian Well and will display them within park areas adjacent to the outdoor seating sections.
The gas/convenience store and fast food operation, if permitted, will be on the northwest section of this 32-acre parcel servicing pass-by Route 35 traffic. They are free-standing, single-tenant sites along the highway.
Present zoning allows a much higher density and could create 2 to 3 times today's traffic. Today's zoning allows 200,000 sq. feet of commercial space and 100 residential units. The new proposal calls for 40,000 sq. feet of commercial space and 68 residential units, plus the extended stay.
A lane to Deal Rd from Logan Road west, all the way to Rte. 35 is proposed.
A dedicated right turn lane on Deal Rd will be added for cars to head north onto Rte. 35.
The developer will construct a new jug handle to create a safer, better flowing traffic pattern.
They propose to add a two-way drive aisle to the southern portion of the property connecting Logan and 35 to alleviate congestion to Deal Rd.
Approximately 9 acres of the 32-acre parcel will be undeveloped.
The property once was 75 acres and was zoned commercial/residential. The Township in previous negations around the turn of the century received almost 45 acres which was used for the Library, the Historical Museum, and other buildings currently adjacent to Palaia Park.
There are no known issues for Poplar Brook. The developer is responsible to build all protective measures in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations for storm water quality, run-off, etc.