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Lakewood Township's Planning Board is getting ready to hold a public hearing on Beth Medrash Govoha's application for their planned expansion on land they are under contract to purchase from Georgian Court University, FAA News has learned.

According to the Site Plan, the project consists of a total of 600 residential apartments, playgrounds, and a child care center and banquet halls.

The project includes 6, five-story multi-family buildings with 100 residential apartments in each, with a playground with separate equipment for children ages 2-5 and 5-12 outside in front of each building. The apartments will include gated patios, and communal space for strollers on each floor. The basements will contain individual storage lockers.

Each building will contain
24 - 2 bedroom units (total 144 units)
60 - 3 bedroom units (total 360 units)
16 - 4 bedroom units (total 96 units)

One apartment building will contain a management garage.

The project also includes a separate building for a child care center with a capacity of 300 children, and 530 patron capacity banquet halls in the fully finished basement.

The child care center will contain 19 classrooms, tutor rooms, bike rooms, club rooms, a day care lobby, a social lobby, a conference room, and offices for the principals and management.

The basement of the child care center will contain separate entrances, lobbies, men's and women's coat rooms and rest rooms, a 1,300 sq foot kitchen, and 3 undefined rooms with a total of 7,100 sq feet. According to the Environmental Impact Study that was submitted with the application, this area will be used for 530 patron capacity banquet halls.

The road layout proposes a total of 3 new roadways which will likely be improved separately as each phase of the complex is constructed.

Carey Street will be improved from its existing terminus just west of Forest Avenue. This will connect to Cedarview Avenue which will be improved between its existing terminus at Fourteenth Street and Ninth Street. Both new roadways will be improved with complete curbing, sidewalk, and street lighting. There will also be dedicated off-road drop off areas along each building.

All roads are proposed to be 26 feet wide, which will not provide room for on-street parking. The standard width for new roads in Lakewood is 32 feet wide. The Planning Board will have the ultimate say in what width will be required for these new roads.

The project will be built over the existing Georgian College University entranceway off Ninth Street. Their entranceway will likely be relocated closer to their existing exit near Lakewood Avenue.

The Site Plan, shown below, shows the new driveway from Carey Street in the middle of the left side. The extension of Cedarview Avenue is shown in the middle, with the Ninth Street side on top and the Fourteenth Street side on the bottom.

Georgian Court University previously sat on 150 acres of land. In March 2022 the university reached an agreement to sell 36 acres of their land to Beth Medrash Govoha for this expansion. BMG Board Member R' Meir Gelley, who also sits on Lakewood Township's Zoning Board, signed the Memorandum of Understanding of the sale agreement. Subsequently, in May 2022, a notice of pending contract was filed with the Ocean County Clerk. The pending sale remains under contract.

The property is located in the R-12 zoning district which permits only Single Family Homes on 12,000 sq feet lots. However, it appears that BMG's application will be presented as variance-free as these apartments and child care center will be a permitted use under the Township's Planned Educational Campus ordinance. The only legal issue will be that banquet halls are not listed as a permitted use in Planned Educational Campuses or in child care centers.

The Planned Educational Campus ordinance permits a "not for profit institution of higher education that is a not for profit entity that is fully accredited and licensed by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education of the State of New Jersey and one that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees and is devoted to higher education and no other forms of education" to construct a campus.

Campuses require a minimum of 3 acres of land. The campus may contain a variety of types of housing units, including residential apartment buildings, up to 28 units per acre.

The land and all structures including dwelling units shall be owned and developed only by the institution of higher education and not by or in partnership or in other arrangement with any investor group, construction company, a not for profit entity or any other third party.

An educational campus is intended only for faculty and students who will attend or staff the institution's educational facilities and that is adjoining to or within 500 feet of faculty and student housing so as to create a unified campus setting.

The occupancy of the residential uses in the institution of higher education must be limited to: (a) students, faculty or staff of the institution of higher education, or (b) the immediate families of faculty, staff or students.

In accordance with the ordinance, the entire land including the apartments will be fully owned by BMG, who may rent out the apartments only to their students, faculty or staff or their immediate families.

The Township ordinance permits day-care facilities in campuses "related to the needs of the residents of the development." It remains to be seen if children who do not reside in the campus would be permitted to attend this child care facility.

The project will provide a total of 1,295 parking spaces, which is actually in excess of the Township's parking requirements for campuses. However, no additional parking is being provided for the 7,100 sq foot banquet hall. Banquet halls are also not a permitted use in child care centers. If this were a school, under the Township's new ordinance (which is heavily involved in pending litigation), the banquet hall would require 158 parking spaces.

Typically, parking requirements for new residential units in New Jersey are governed by the New Jersey Residential Site Improvements Standards which require a minimum of 2 parking spaces per unit. However, an educational campus is governed by the Township ordinance and not by the RSIS. Therefore, the Township ordinance only requires 1 parking space per dwelling unit.

The project will provide a total of 1,196 parking spaces for the residential units - more than the 600 required. A total of 90 parking spaces will be Electric Vehicle Ready.

The Township does not have a specific parking requirement for child care centers. Rather the Ordinance requires as follows:

"The development of a child care facility... shall require site plan review and will be subject to the standards of the district in which it is located.

"Parking requirements shall be based on evaluating the following factors: the maximum number of children for which the site is licensed; the number of employees present during the maximum shift; and the operational plan for the drop-off and pick-up of children during the school day."

The project will provide 99 parking spaces for the child care center. They calculate that they only require 69 spaces.

The buildings are proposed to be 58 feet high, less than 65 feet high permitted.

A total of 33% of Recreational Open Space will be provided. This is greater than the 5% the Township requires.

As such, it appears that this application is being presented as variance-free. However, banquet halls are not a permitted use in child care centers. They are also not providing any additional parking for the 7,100 sq foot banquet hall.  If this were a school, under the Township's new ordinance (which is heavily involved in pending litigation), at 1 space per 45 sq feet, the banquet hall would require 158 parking spaces.

As was first reported here on FAA News, in 2021, with support of Lakewood's Congressional Delegation, U.S. Senators Cory Booker, Bob Smith, and Congressman Chris Smith, BMG received a $3 million federal grant towards this land purchase, specifically earmarked because they proposed to eventually build the day care center on a portion of the land.

In 2022, with support from Lakewood's Congressional Delegation, BMG received an additional $2 million federal grant to pay for construction of the Carey Street and Cedarview Avenue roadways, sidewalks, street lighting and associated improvements, sanitary sewer mains and infrastructure, drinking water mains and infrastructure, stormwater management and drainage infrastructure, and landscaping for this project. (With the Township Committee's endorsement, BMG requested $4 million. Ultimately however they received only $2 million.)

At the time of submission of the application, Lakewood's Township Committee supported application of the grant, saying that the project is anticipated to "alleviate the severe housing shortage present in the Township housing market, ease traffic congestion by taking commuters off the most congested roads, and open a new thoroughfare and exit roads from the College District."

“Lakewood is one of the fastest growing cities in America and a growing economic engine for Ocean County, and there is an urgent need to lessen congestion on narrow streets that were designed and built in many cases over 100 years ago,” said Congressman Chris Smith. “This federal support will help create a thoroughfare that drivers can use to overt excessively congested local roadways to get to Interstate 195, the Garden State Parkway and other highways.”

In Fall 2021, the Township reconstructed portions of Carey Street, with new curb and sidewalk between Route 9 and the road's existing terminus past Forest Avenue.

Lakewood Township's Planning Board has placed the application on their March 14 public hearing agenda.

The project recently received initial Ocean County Planning Board approval, contingent on certain conditions, including addressing the following traffic conditions:

• It appears the trip generation information is based on assumptions and operational information provided by the applicant. Demonstrate how the proposed trip generation was calculated. Provide ITE and RSIS criteria for Mid-Rise Residential Apartments for comparison with the information provided by the applicant.
• Analyze the County Line Road and Forest Avenue and County Line Road and Cedar View Avenue intersections. Determine impacts to westbound left turns from County Line Road at each intersection.

In 2010, Georgian Court University proposed to expand their college with new dormitories, a soccer field, 1,200 parking spaces and new driveways on Cedarview Avenue and Case Road.

An audio recording was sent out, urging residents of Fourteenth Street, Case Road and Forest Avenue to attend the public hearings to show objection to the expansion.

The audio recording stated: "Hundreds of cars will endanger our pedestrians and our children waiting for their school buses. Our lawyers feel a large show of support is extremely important."

Ultimately, after a number of public hearings which were attended by numerous neighbors, the Planning Board rejected the application.

As previously reported here on FAA News, BMG has also recently closed on an $18 million purchase of the 150 acres Woodlake Country Club Golf Course on New Hampshire Avenue between Ridge Avenue and Route 88. A specific Site Plan for that site has not yet been submitted to the Lakewood land use boards.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What's stopping them from building it and then selling it off?