Category Archives: Bam Hollow

>Interesting Timing Behind Bamm Hollow Resolution

>With all the hoopla surrounding the redevelopment of the Avaya industrial site in Lincroft which is calling for 342 housing units to be built, I find a resolution on the docket for approval at tonight’s Township Committee meeting in Middletown interesting in it’s timing.

Resolution No. 11-169 , which authorizes the settlement agreement between Bamm Hollow builders and the Township, seems to be an attempt by the Township to sugarcoat the history behind the redevelopment of the Bamm Hollow Country Club property, in a way that show outspoken community groups like SONIC and the Lincroft Village Green Association that the Township Committee is really looking out for their best interests and are not really interested in building high density housing in Lincroft.
Unfortunately though we know differently.

Bamm Hollow developers originally wanted to build 200-300 homes on the site when plans were first proposed with no COAH units, I was told. The Township objected to the initial development due to the it’s size and wanted the developers to scale it back a bit.

After further discussions took place, the Township approached the Bamm Hollow developers, along with several other land owners, wanted to know if they would be interested in having their properties included in the Township’s Master Plan for residential development. Many of them (including Bamm Hollow) agreed to join the Township’s planned most of them then had their properties rezoned from commercial properties to residential (Avaya being an example).
From what I had been told, the Bamm Hollow property and the Avaya property where then (on paper) combined to make one large development. It was only after plans were leaked out that the development of the Avaya site would not include Bamm Hollow, that Bamm Hollow decided to revise their plans from 200 or so single units to the 1200 units with COAH housing.
The developers knew at the time that Middletown had failed to meet it’s COAH requirements so they decided to seek a “Builder’s Remedy” in the courts to have the property zoned to the way that they had originally wanted. The 1200 units were a bluff by the builder and would have never been built with COAH in mind because the site did not meet the conditions to satisfy COAH requirements on its own.
So now that the Bamm Hollow case has been settled in courts (pretty much to the way Bamm Hollow had originally wanted in the first place), the Township is attempting to show residents of Lincroft and the rest of the Township, that they are fighting for their best interests (after spending hundred of thousands of dollars) by fighting Bamm Hollow in the court and winning so that now, the “little” (in caparison ) 342 unit redevelopment of the Avaya property doesn’t look so big and bad to those that live in the area.
I’m sure that there will be some discussion about this tonight that will be very interesting and somewhat revealing, it will make for a great show. The meeting starts at 8:00 if you wish to attend.

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Filed under Avaya, Bam Hollow, builder's remedy, COAH, law suit, lincroft village green association, Middletown Township Committee, Redevelopment Lincroft, resolutions and ordinances, Sonic

>Middletown Update and Background Proposed Four Ponds Development Plan

>At the behest of the Township Committee, Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, posted the following letter the Middletown Township website late yesterday, the letter is an attempt to give some background information behind the history of the rezoning of the Avaya property in Lincroft that is a hot-button issue in town and ready to explode. At least three separate citizens groups are now involved and on record as being opposed to the project.

What this letter doesn’t tell residents about is how, much like the infamous “Town Center” project, the Township went to Torsevias (the owners of the property) and pitched this idea to them. The township would never have been able to rezone this property if the owners weren’t on board with it. Promises were made and palms were greased in some way to make this happen, now the Township needs to backpedal before it’s too late.

Unfortunately it may be too late for that already, money has been spent already on the project by the owners, they would want so type of reimbursement for there troubles i’m sure, which will tie this project up in the courts for years at a cost of millions of dollars to the tax payers of Middletown if it doesn’t go through.

And as usual, the Township is blaming Democrats in Trenton for inaction on the issue of COAH. They wont dare point a finger at the Governor for vetoing the COAH bill that was past by the assembly last year. If COAH was on the top of the Governor’s priority list, he would be taking the lead on this issue like he has been while bashing teachers and unions.

But don’t confuse the issues of COAH and this project, the opposition to this redevelopment is not COAH based as the Township wants you to believe. The opposition is opposed to the project based on quality of life issues and concerns such as infrastructure, traffic and the effects of having many more students enroll in area schools.

Dear Residents:

The Township Committee has asked that I provide a summary of the circumstances surrounding the proposed Four Ponds Development Plan at the former Avaya property, which is part of the Township’s state-mandated Council On Affordable Housing (“COAH”) housing plan.

The Township Committee has many concerns about this proposed project, which is why the Township is currently litigating the COAH’s revised third round rules before the New Jersey Supreme Court. Not only has the Township joined in the League of Municipality’s lawsuit, but the Township also filed its own lawsuit, which was just recently accepted by the Supreme Court. It is unclear, however, when this case will be heard, which could be anywhere from 6 months to a year, or more, from now. In the meantime, the Township is still subject to COAH’s rules, as they existed three years ago.

It is the Township’s belief that we should not be punished by these rules since, we believe there are plenty of affordable housing units, including rental units available throughout the Township. This fact is largely the basis of our legal position. Further, the Township does not have a history of exclusionary zoning that would be in violation of the original Mount Laurel doctrine. Unfortunately, this legal doctrine has evolved into something it was never intended to be, which essentially hands control of much of our zoning over to developers and in some cases the courts.

Making matters worse, the Appellate Court recently invalidated a large portion of the revised third round COAH rules that gave the Township a variety bonus credits for past performance and for allowing the creation of affordable rental housing. Without these extra credits and other mechanisms thrown out by the Court, the Township’s affordable housing obligation could grow significantly higher than it already is. Fortunately, the Township sought and secured a stay from both COAH and the Supreme Court of the Appellate Court’s ruling on this matter. Now, the Supreme Court will decide the ultimate merits of this issue, but the outcome is far from certain, which is why the Township has actively been seeking legislative action that has not been forthcoming. The legislation that has been proposed so far, in most cases would be a giant step backwards, making matters far worse. Fortunately the Governor vetoed the bill that was actually passed by the legislature since it would have increased the Township’s affordable housing obligation possibly two-fold.

As a result, the Township has been forced to zone a number of properties in a way that it would not have otherwise, only to satisfy COAH’s requirements. It is also critical in order to stem what are known as Builder’s Remedy lawsuits, which essentially strip away any local control and allows the courts to order the approval of housing developments. In fact, the Township is currently subject to a challenge by the owners of the Bamm Hollow Country Club. Specifically, since challenging our plans, they have been seeking to construct 1,200 multi-family dwellings that would include at least 240 COAH units upon their 277-acre property. They also have an application pending for 50 homes which the property is currently zoned for, which is also not actively being pursued. That application will not make this litigation go away as they are continuing to seek a development many times that size. We are currently seeking a stay before the Appellate Court in this matter in an effort to try to resolve it through sound planning without facing the prospect of 1,200 more units of housing in Lincroft. The reality of the situation is that if the Avaya property had not been zoned to allow for the development of residential housing two years ago, Bamm Hollow would likely be building 1,200 court-ordered units on its property by now.

These are the unfortunate realities currently faced by the Township until the Legislature or the Courts act appropriately to eliminate these irrational mandates that do nothing but promote poor planning and development while wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. I would note, however, that the Avaya property is still also zoned to allow for commercial development, so the Township is not impeding that from taking place should market conditions allow for it. Further, the Township has been encouraging businesses to move into the site along with seeking economic development assistance for prospective tenants from the state.

Simply put, due to legislative inaction, the Township was left with no option but to include Avaya property as part of its housing plan three years ago to allow for residential development. The reality is that the alternative would be far worse for Lincroft and the Township as a whole. We would like to encourage all residents, as many of you have in the past, to write and call Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver who should be held accountable along with the entire State Legislature for failing to act on the Governor’s proposed COAH reforms. With those reforms, there is at least a chance that this project may not have advanced to this point.

Sincerely,
Anthony P. Mercantante, P.P. AICP
Township Administrator

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Filed under Avaya, Bam Hollow, COAH, Gov. Chris Christie, Lincroft NJ, lincroft village green association, LVGA, Middletown Township Committee, Sonic, Tony Mercantante, Torsevia, Towns Center, Trenton

>APP: Middletown board hears controversial housing plan

>The Asbury Park Press this morning has a good write up on last night’s Middletown Planning Board meeting with some additional background information that pertains to the Bam Hollow development and how 1200 housing units were originally scheduled to be built there.

The article was written by Kevin Penton and is a pretty accurate description of what went on durning the discussion of the Avaya redevelopment hearing last night.

You can also checkout the raw video from last night’s Middletown Planning Board meeting that I have posted in the previous post.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Avaya, Bam Hollow, kevin penton, Lincroft NJ, Middletown NJ, Raw Video