Lakewood Township's Planning Board on Tuesday night approved a new 64 duplex unit development off of the New Hampshire Avenue and Locust street intersection.

Engineer Brian Flannery cheerfully assured the Board "the existing trees may cause forest fires, building duplexes is a much better idea!"

The complete proposal submitted by Solar Ave LLC, is for 64 duplex units, a shul, and multiple open space tracts.


Each housing unit will receive 4 off-street parking spaces. The shul, which will contain a kiddush room, warming kitchen, and mikvah in the basement, will receive 67 off- street parking spaces.

The 8.8 acres parcel is located in the B-5A Highway Development Zone. Duplex housing and places of worship are permitted uses.

The duplexes do not require any variances. The shul did require a number of bulk variances and design waivers, including from providing a buffer to the residences.

The Board took exception to the buffer request, stating that the buffer requirement is in place to shield nearby properties from the shul parking lot's lighting. The Board suggested that the shul could be relocated to the center of the development where the requested buffer could be eliminated. Mr. Flannery pushed back hard, arguing that the developer isn't even required to provide a shul.

One of the roadways in the development is proposed to be only 18 wide, whereas all new roadways in Lakewood are required to be 32 feet wide. Mr. Flannery assured the Board that Oak and Vine has a similar narrow "alleyway" and "it works perfectly."

The Board did get the developers to agree to install an actual playground in one of the open space tracts.

More importantly, the Board stipulated that the developers can not obtain even Temporary Certificate of Occupancies (TCO) on more than 32 units prior to the shul being constructed and obtaining at least a TCO. This will ensure that we don't end up with many families moving in with no shul.

Board Chairman Moshe Neiman stated that this stipulation was extremely necessary due to "situations which have occured before where developers build many houses and simply don't build the promised shul."

Attorney Adam Pfeffer retorted that "there are always 2 sides to such stories!"

Most of the units will have 3 driveways across and 1 driveway stacked in back. The Board delved into the width of the internal roads as well as the stacked parking of the individual driveways. Board Member Moshe Luwish stated that big developments really need wider roads to ensure sufficient width of on-street parking. Mr. Neiman and Board Member Bruce Stern agreed with this issue. 

Resident Aaron Hirsch agreed, noting that the Master Plan adopted by the Planning Board in 2017 calls on the Township Committee to give the Board the legal wherewithal to require wider roads.

Ultimately, the Board decided that their hands were tied as the Township Committee never did give the Board the legal wherewithal to require wider roads. However, the Board did stipulate that the developers should request that the Township install no parking signs along one side of all the roads.

A traffic study submitted by the developers indicates that the existing traffic signal at Locust Street and New Hampshire Avenue will be upgraded to add the fourth leg on the east side. Additionally, new southbound left and right turn lanes will be installed. Accordingly, the New Hampshire Avenue intersection with Rochelle Street will be restricted westbound to right turns only.

The application documents state that Solar Ave LLC is wholly owned by Shuie (Joshua) Schmuckler. However, the metadata on the files provided by NewLines Engineering indicate that Yehuda Dachs is very much involved with this project.

Curious minds wonder if Mr. Schmuckler's name is being fronted simply as a ploy to avoid the need to obtain a CAFRA permit for this project...

NJDEP rules for the CAFRA-zone in Lakewood require a CAFRA application in "a development... that would result, either solely or in conjunction with a previous development, in a residential development having 75 or more dwelling units... under common ownership..."

This development on its own does have less than 75 dwelling units. However, it adjoins an additional 130 already approved dwelling units. Those other projects are owned by Mr. Dachs. Therefore, curious minds wonder if the current application is being fronted as being owned by Mr. Schmuckler simply to avoid the need to obtain a CAFRA permit for this project.

In addition, the developers appear to be doing some additional collusion to avoid CAFRA permitting.

DEP requires a CAFRA permit "regardless of present ownership, where there is a proposed sharing of infrastructure constructed to serve those parcels including, but not limited to, roads, utility lines, drainage systems, open spaces or septic drain fields."

I.e. regardless of present ownership, if the adjoining developments which total over 75 units will share common roads then a CAFRA permit will also be required.

In this case, the adjoining developments (which are listed below) will share common connecting roads - however, the developers snuck away from this requirement simply by designating the connecting roads as "for emergency vehicles only." Thanks to this official designation, the road is no longer considered a "shared road" under CAFRA requirements.

This new duplex development will be located just to the south of where construction is currently ongoing for 130 duplex homes, an office building, a retail building, and a community shul, and adjacent to where a shopping center was approved last year. 

Back on December 15, 2015, the Planning Board granted Site Plan approval to Somerset New Hampshire LLC (then owned by Ralph Zucker) for 37 duplex structures, (74 homes) with only a single right in / right out access road off Route 70. Each unit will have 4 parking spaces.

The application also included, along Route 70, a 2-story, 83,560 sq foot office / retail building and a 1-story, 33,316 sq foot retail building, with a total of 134 parking spaces to serve these buildings, as well as a 2-story 8,788 sq foot community building (2,275 sq feet main synagogue) with 15 off-street and 19 on-street parking spaces (which will be privately owned by the HOA of the development.

At the bend in the far back corner, the development will have its own privately owned 18,900 sq foot park. They will also have an additional tot lot / park with a walking path at the other end of the road, as well as open space near the community building.

The internal roads will have 5 feet wide sidewalks instead of the typical 4 feet wide, however, the Planning Board did grant a waiver from installing sidewalk along both New Hampshire Avenue and Route 70.

At some point, New Hampshire 54 LLC (owned by Yehuda Dachs) acquired this project.

Initial site clearing began in March 2021. The Township Engineering Department granted final construction approval on May 3, 2022 and construction has been well underway since.

On November 18, 2019, the Zoning Board granted Use Variance approval to Somerset NH LLC (owned by Ralph Zucker) for up to 30 duplex structures (60 homes) on a new cul-de-sac off New Hampshire Avenue.

Use Variance relief was required as this parcel is located in the B-5 Highway Development Zone where duplexes is not a permitted use.

The Board stipulated that as a condition of approval for their future Site Plan, they needed to pave a room connecting this development to the previously approved development off Route 70, so as to allow thosr residents to drive towards central Lakewood without needing to first go out the way east on Route 70.

On November 9, 2020 the Board granted Final Site Plan approval to a modified plan for 28 duplex structures (56 homes), a shul and a playground. 

The road that runs through the development, Budleman Way, will have two, eighteen feet wide, one-way lanes separated by a curb island. New curb and sidewalk are proposed along the tract’s road frontages.⁣

In accordance with RSIS requirements that a secondary access road is required on cul-de-sacs with more than 24 units, the board conditioned this approval that no more than 25 Certificate of Occupancies may be obtained until the secondary access road has been constructed.

The Board further conditioned their approval that the developer will utilize good faith in discussing certain traffic improvements with the County, including an egress lane along New Hampshire Avenue.

As previously reported here on FAA News, back in June 2023, the Planning Board approved a one-story 24,000 sq foot shopping center on New Hampshire Avenue, south of Budleman Way.

The main access to the site would be provided by a right-in/right-out driveway from New Hampshire Avenue northbound.

As depicted on the Site Plan, Rochelle Street and Solar Avenue which are both currently unimproved, will be improved with pavement and curbing. Rochelle Street will also receive sidewalk. (A waiver from installing sidewalk on Solar Avenue was requested and granted.) These paper streets will be improved so as to provide a truck delivery area separate from the main parking area.

A proposed secondary access would be provided by a two-way driveway from Rochelle Street. A third proposed access to the parking lot will be provided from the end of Solar Avenue. 2 more access driveways are proposed from Solar Avenue for the loading zone behind the retail building.

The parking lot will contain 128 parking spaces including 10 EV spaces and 6 ADA-compliant spaces of which 2 will be van accessible.

The Board conditioned that a basement is permitted for storage use only, with no access from the outside, to ensure that the basement is rented out for any other use.

Once all the developments are constructed, the shopping center as well as the new duplexes will be able to access Route 70 (for eastbound travel only) through Sally Avenue which will connect through the Buddleman Way application.

To address traffic issues, the existing traffic signal at the New Hampshire Avenue & Locust Street intersection will receive some upgrades.

As previously reported here on FAA News, even more development is in the works for the southwest corner of New Hampshire Avenue and Route 70.

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Yehuda s said...

The developers are clearly in it for themselves.
The shame is that so is the township and most of the boards…

They are supposed to be for the people but are clearly not. The even bigger shame is we keep putting these people in positions of power and allow them to trample all over us.
We give them a stick to what is with.
Lets vote for change!!!

Anonymous said...

As the saying always refers too.You can only fit so much stuff in a 10lbs bag.Zoning,Planning and Development Boards this one is on you.The future of 2028 looks like another Flatbush and Bensonhurst.Its Sad so Sad..

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Yehuda.Live in the area,rt 70 & new Hampshire area will be a parking lot. The area has some small streams, wonder if there will be flooding when it pours.

Anonymous said...

It’s impossible to think voted politicians who are in office for so long don’t get any perks or monetary benefits along the way so is the way of the world of politics
That being said it’s high time (and a little too late as the damage of over growth building with out the proper infrastructure to service it has already been done)
TERM LIMITS of all elected politicians should be mandatory no more then 4 years at a MAX
So no one gets too comfortable and be used by the developers who milk the town by greasing the palms (in many legal ways making donations to the school the officials kids attend etc their are many legal under the table ways to get the officials to smooth things over and make sure they get what they want pushed thru many times to our detriment but tonthe benefit of those making money off the projects but those people who end up living their will forever suffer just ask those families who live in all the developments off route 9 how they suffer

Anonymous said...

Politicians and political appointees are like diapers, and require changing when they don't pass the smell-test.

Anonymous said...

So who is actually ready to commit to vote for change this November? How many people are willing to proclaim it here? Not by name obviously, but by number. Each time you comment, leave a number, your unique number, (starting from 1, which i will be) at the end of your comments so we'll know you're on board and committed to voting for change this November. Use your number on other platforms that you comment on as well, so we'll know if it's spreading or stuck with a random 20 guys, or so. pay attention to the other signed numbers so that we're not double-counting. I'll start... Signed, Number 1.