Noticed lots of construction on Squankum Road at the Lakewood/ Howell border?

A major residential rental apartment complex is on its way. Thanks to a member of the public urging the Zoning Board, this new complex will receive some meaningful safety upgrades!

Back in 2012, Tilwy LLC (owned by Marshall Weissman) received Major Site Plan approval from Lakewood Township's Zoning Board for a residential apartment complex on this site. The 3-story apartment buildings were proposed to contain a total of 94 units of which 37 were 2 bedroom units, 19 were 3 bedroom units, and 38 were 4 bedroom units. (The total number of bedrooms would be 283). The complex proposed a shul building, and one single tot lot.

There will be a sidewalk around the complex's private road, and along the property frontage on Squankum Road.

On June 17, 2019, Engineer Brian Flannery submitted a letter of "correspondence" to the Board requesting a revision to the architectural design. The letter did not include an Amended Site Plan, but indicated that the number of residential units and all site infrastructure would remain the same, however, "the footprint of the buildings is what is changing."

Chairman Abe Halberstam asked to see elevations. In response, Board Attorney Jerry Dasti wisely suggested that an amended Major Site Plan application be submitted and properly noticed to the public and neighboring property owners.

That turned out to be a really wise move, when, on September 9, 2019, the applicant presented an amended Major Site Plan to the Zoning Board, it turned out the "change in footprint" intended to modify the application to include more 3-bedroom units, and less 2-bedroom units. The new proposal was for 84-3 bedroom units and 10-2 bedroom units. Mr. Flannery extolled the virtues of the application as the number of bedrooms overall would actually be reduced by 11 to 272.

The board responded that they preferred the originally approved 2-bedroom units to the now proposed 3-bedroom units as families tend to stay longer in 3-bedroom units, leading to many more older children in the complex which does not include sufficient recreational space for so many children. In response, Mr. Flannery testified that they would now provide 3 tot lots instead of the originally approved 1 tot lot, and they would build the proposed 4,000 sq foot shul "as large as they could."

A member of the public additionally pointed out that there was insufficient room for a bus to enter and turn around in the complex, which would cause the numerous children to wait for the bus on Squankum Road. Additionally, if buses need to create this stop on Squankum Road, there is no proper turn-around in the area for buses to get back to Lakewood.

Due to this concern, the Board directed the applicant to return with a revised plan.

The applicant returned on October 28, 2019. As depicted in the photo below, the complex will now include a turnaround at the entrance so school buses can safely enter and exit the complex without needing to traverse through the complex, and additionally the internal sidewalk will be extended to be provide a walkway and crosswalks from the internal road to the bus stop. The Board also directed the applicant to provide a bus shelter.

When the Board adopted their Resolution of Approval on November 18, 2019, the Board asked what surface will be used for the tot lots. Mr. Flannery responded " recycle rubber mulch". Board Engineer Dave Magno recommended that they use permanent safety surface instead of mulch. Mr. Flannery agreed.

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