Eatontown Residents Angered over Latest Old Orchard Plan

Eatontown held an informal hearing Monday night on a plan to turn Old Orchard Country Club into an age-restricted community on one side and a retail center on Route 36.

Their message was clear: "No more stores. No more traffic. No house on the golf course."

Eatontown residents came out in force Monday night to voice their opposition to another plan to redevelop the Old Orchard Country Club.

It was a packed house at an informal hearing before the planning board, with no application yet submitted for the redevelopment. The plan, being floated by developer National Realty and Development Corp., is to turn the country club and golf course, which borders Oceanport, into an age-restricted community on one side and retail center along Route 36.

The developer's traffic engineer and planners outlined their intention to rezone the property from a residential zone known as R-32 to a property split over two zones, R-20 and B-2. The change, which would have to be approved by the borough before an application would be heard by the planning board, would allow the developer to build 52 units in a 55 and over community on one side of the golf course. The portion of the property which fronts on Route 36, next to the Motor Vehicle Commission, would be slated for a retail center.

The property would be naturally bifurcated by a stream on the site.

Coming into the meeting the developer faced an uphill battle in convincing residents that more retail development and the redevelopment of the golf course would be in their best interest. To help make his case, Jerrold Bermingham of NRDC said he and his team went over the minutes of meetings from the previous failed plan for the site by another developer and made changes to his plan based on the concerns of residents and the borough, to make it a "more considerate plan."

According to Bermingham, these changes include:

  • A reduction in the number of housing units from 600 to 175.
  • Age restricted instead of single family housing, eliminating the likelihood of 60 school age children.
  • Reduced traffic from the scaled back housing.
  • A reduction in the scale of the retail center from two stories to one.
  • A change in the kind of stores planned from a regional draw to a community shopping.
  • An increase in taxes to the borough of $2.5 million.

Traffic engineer Henry Ney, and independent consultant for Birdsall Engineering, did the traffic studies and plans for NRDC's proposal. Ney outlined changes to the existing traffic patterns on Routes 36 and 71 that he said would improve traffic in that area, even with the addition of this redevelopment.

Some of the improvements would include widening of the roadways where 36 and 71 intersect and the addition of dedicated turn and through lanes there. At the retail center, which would be adjacent to the Motor Vehicle Commission, Ney outlined changes that would include the addition of and reconfiguration of jug handles, and the addition of a light, designed to ease current traffic jams going into motor vehicle and general congestion along the roadway.

Residents didn't appear to believe the promise of improved traffic at the retail site, but it was traffic in neighboring residential streets that most had their ire. One after another residents of Reynolds Drive and its associated streets came forward to say how bad traffic was in their neighborhood. In their opinion, this redevelopment would only make it worse.

"You can't get out of our streets now," one resident said. " If you do this, you're killing us."

But perhaps the strongest feeling in the room was from residents whose properties abut the golf course.

"It's not going to be an asset to Eatontown," said Robert Tungrian of Stirrup Lane. "I'm used to looking at the 17th hole... I'm used to looking at the deer. Eatontown is getting ripped up... The ink isn't even dry on the last one and we're entertaining this crap again."

Some residents said that they would prefer the added school children of a traditional residential plan. "Children and families are what make communities," said one resident.

Several residents said preserving open space was a priority for them and should be for the town, pointing to Tinton Falls recent acquisition of land for open space.

"Restore Eatontown to a community," Phil Sapienza, urged the board, "not just a bunch of stores."

Given the choice between $2.5 million in tax ratables and the golf course, by their comments, residents showed they'd stick with the golf course.

But as planning board member Mark Woloshin pointed out, that may not be a choice they ever get. The property is currently zoned residential.

"If somebody wants to come and buy that property, they could build homes there without much problem," he said.

Brian Walter January 29, 2013 at 12:16 PM
The angry people are right to be angry. A greedy developer comes in builds a bunch of houses and leaves. The developer doesn't live in Eatontown. They won't have to deal with the problems they leave behind. What! You think traffic is the issue? Extra children in our education system? That is nothing. How about the Garbage pick up and extra fees at the dump to dispose of it. Who do you think pays for that? The sewer bill just went up this year. What happens when that extra capacity is put in the system? Who do you think will pay for that? Eatontown! What happens to the water supply when we have a dry summer? More and Longer water restrictions. Are you gonna be happy with that? What happens when more demand is put on the electrical grid because of this? Who do you think will pay for added capacity at the generating plant? All of us. And this is right? This is good? HELLO! We elected the borough council to represent the people of this town and protect us! They have already failed us 3 times in the prevention of this type of thing with the Mill Pond townhouses, yet another trailer park just up the road from it and a new development just across Rt35 from them. All in the same area! Enough is enough already!
frank lippolis January 29, 2013 at 12:16 PM
We don't need any more traffic its bad enough !!! Leave it open space !!!
Just a Thought... January 29, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Add more shopping? The Home Depot Mall is just about 90 percent vacant and you cant get in and out of there without possible accidents (even after our new design to the highway which is a joke too) And look at the new condos on Monmouth rd in West Long Branch...and that is small too. this whole entire area is over congested, and over built already. Lets remember a strip mall is going up in Oceanport next to one that is almost vacant except for 3 stores maybe?? Lets save this land for our future generation and make something out of this that all can be proud of. (which will never happen but its a nice thought)
beachlover January 29, 2013 at 01:42 PM
I would love to see a solar park like they built in Tinton Falls. That would make the town money. Eatontown does not need any more shopping malls or condos! And the traffic on 36 is already bad enough, especially at commuter time and in the summer. If they must build housing, why can't it just be single family homes with a minimum lot size so that they aren't cramming houses on top of each other. I would also rather see a bunch of single family houses (not condos! not townhomes!) with children, then an adult community. The problem is there are homes in Eatontown that aren't selling already. And we still don't have any idea what will happen with the Fort.
Ray January 29, 2013 at 03:26 PM
"Senior housing" is just a slick way to get around zoning laws. Age restricted residents' cars take up just as much room on the roads and intersections as anyone's car. The state should buy it and keep it as a golf course. The state should take over Fort Monmouth and make it a State University that better serves south Jersey.
Thomas A. Blasi January 29, 2013 at 03:55 PM
A solar park is an excellent idea in my opinion, it will produce income for the town and more.
Thomas A. Blasi January 29, 2013 at 03:58 PM
"You can't get out of our streets now," . . . " If you do this, you're killing us." This is true and if Eatontown approves this plan, more area residents will opt to sell their homes and leave the area. Expect more "For sale" signs up.
Ryan January 29, 2013 at 08:38 PM
I would say that all of the new houses that are paying property taxes (which would be much higher than the golf course was paying) would take care of the costs... I mean, you live there and pay your share, right?
Dave Gilmore January 30, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Remember the "town officials" at election time....only way to get the message across.
Ellen Garfunkle January 30, 2013 at 09:35 AM
No more homes or shops
g nap January 30, 2013 at 01:01 PM
Let's all try to remember, the reason the current owners are even entertaining the idea of selling is because the town decided to raise the golf courses taxes exorbitantly. As a business, they have to make a profit. No profit, no business. With all the ratables that don't tax the current system, that Eatontown currently has, they obviuosly don't need any more. If you want to point the blame at anyone, point it at the local government for allowing more development of the same old.... Greed is not always good, and unfortunatly the local region is going to have to pay.
Thomas A. Blasi January 30, 2013 at 03:44 PM
FACTORS TO CONSIDER: 1) the number of golf courses both private and public in the area, including the one on the Fort Monmouth property. 2) as individuals leave the area and relocate outside of New Jersey, the number of golf players diminishes; no doubt the rap music generation does not play golf as golf is somewhat of an elitist sport catering to the middle & upper middle class . 3) Communities such as Eatontown need business revenue if they want to keep homeowner property taxes under the 2% cap. My conclusion; it’s a catch 22 situation.
Toolman January 30, 2013 at 04:22 PM
and how much in taxes would the State University generate?
Lia January 31, 2013 at 01:26 AM
I would rather look out at trees,deer and birds than a solar park thank you very much!
Fred M January 31, 2013 at 01:47 AM
Something will built there? You need to decide which will be the best fit for you and your neighbors..
Fred M January 31, 2013 at 01:49 AM
The bottom line will be this. How much money can the developer make per square ft on that property? What will give him the best return for his investment..
Peter Koenig January 31, 2013 at 05:50 PM
The developer's economic motivation is one factor - if the developer thinks the units won't sell and/or the space won't be rented, then it won't get built. Normally, the free market contributes to a beneficial result. Here, however, we have externalities and other issues. Externalities include added traffic, burdens on municipal services and loss of aesthetic benefits that aren't reflected in the raw economics of the proposition. Perhaps a balance can be found: less intensive development / less traffic generation / preservation of open space around the perimeter of the parcel? Single-family homes worked in around the golf course - hey, those elitist non-rapping golfers may pay big bucks for big houses with big tax bills ...
beachlover February 01, 2013 at 04:32 PM
There are houses in Eatontown that are still vacant now and can't be sold. Why would more housing be a good thing? The closing of the Fort meant a lot of people moved to Maryland or Virginia. Many who worked at the Fort lived in Eatontown. Lia, I would rather look at trees, deer, and birds too. That's why I live near green acres property. But a solar park that makes money for the town is still better than more multi unit housing, more traffic, and more strip malls. Just my opinion, but I don't live by the golf course.
Fred RBPatch February 02, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Eatontown is one of the 3 communities benefitting from the closure of Ft. Monmouth, as far as additional undeveloped/potentiallly increased rateable land goes. Pick one or the other for open land, and develope the other... not both.
Sal February 03, 2013 at 05:02 AM
"Not in My backyard". Acting as Obstructionists is what Americans do best and put the most effort into. The solution is simple enough___put your money where you mouths are and make the landowner a Viable offer to purchase his land. He is in Business to Make Money and there is nothing evil about being in business to make money. Make him a decent offer to buy his land that he can profit on___and he would likely be happy to sell it to you and walk away.
Thomas A. Blasi February 03, 2013 at 08:55 PM
This is how a democracy works, no matter if it’s throwing tea into Boston Harbor or protesting war. This is what makes a democracy work, the fact that we are free to ‘Redress our grievances’ In this case the crux of the problem is population density and traffic connection and a strain on the utilities and infrastructure. Eventually more property owners are going to throw in the towel and say, “that’s the last straw, I’m leaving New Jersey.”
Fred M February 04, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Lot less traffic with Ft Monmouth closed...Will be hard to sell that to any of he council..I can't imagine what traffic will be like when Ft Monmouth is. Fully developed..
frank lippolis May 15, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Talk about gridlock, you have to plan your trips now to use the road on off peak times
frank lippolis May 15, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Ft Monmouth has a lot of land available, make use of land that is vacant and deteriorating.
Dentss Dunnagun May 15, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Why is it that people always want to be the last one to move into a town ...once they live their BOOM they want the door slammed shut ...NO MORE BUILDING ! sorry it just doesn't work that way .America is always growing so towns must grow as well ....


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