A proposal to build 14 homes in a portion of the former Camp Osborn neighborhood of Brick Township has been reduced to a 13-home plan and has been delayed after an attorney representing residents from a neighboring street said he needed more time to call witnesses before the township’s Board of Adjustment.
The case has been continually delayed since the board first began hearing testimony on the plan March 18, with attorney John Jackson – who represents Bob Osborn, the owner of the property – having accused his adversary, Edward Liston, who represents several residents of Lyndhurst Drive, of trying to delay the proceedings.
Liston’s clients feel the 13 homes are too dense for the neighborhood, while experts hired by Osborn have pointed out that before Superstorm Sandy wiped out Camp Osborn, 32 homes stood where the 13 are currently proposed, and only 10 of the 13 will back up to Lyndhurst Drive. Six large homes on Lyndhurst back up to where the smaller, single-family homes are proposed to be built in Camp Osborn. The application is being heard by Board of Adjustment because several variances are required for the project since Camp Osborn is zoned in such a way that requires 7,500 square feet per lot, while the proposed homes will be built on lots that range from about 1,800 square feet to 3,000 square feet in area.
At Wednesday night’s hearing before the board, engineer and planner Jeffrey Carr announced the intention of Osborn to scale back the project to 13 homes. By doing so, the distance between the homes can be increased to 10 feet from 8 feet, the setback of the development from Route 35 can be increased to 15 feet from 8 feet, and the width of each home’s lot will be increased by 2 feet.
Christine Cofone, a planner hired by Osborn, testified Wednesday night that the project would be a “fabulous redevelopment project” that fits in with the character of most barrier island neighborhoods, which are mixed in terms of density. Neighboring streets vary between zones – other are located in zones that require smaller lots than the R7.5 zone – and the 109-unit Ocean Club condominium complex is located to the north.
“Camp Osborn was certainly part of the historical fabric of Brick, and repurposing this site and seeing it develop can only help the township move forward after the damage that was suffered during Sandy,” Cofone said. “Getting this site back up and running with some residential development, especially some creative development, is a benefit to the entire area.”
Liston and Cofone then sparred over various tidbits of testimony during his cross-examination, with Liston occasionally raising his voice, drawing the ire of board attorney Jeanne Ann McManus. Liston focused his questioning on the issue of the 13 houses versus the five or six that would be allowed in the absence of a variance.
After Cofone’s cross-examination by Liston came to an end, Board Chairman Harvey Langer asked if Liston could question his sole witness, another planner, and his clients who wished to testify as to their objections before the end of the meeting.
“I don’t, I honestly don’t,” Liston replied, indicating that another meeting would be necessary.
Osborn agreed to spend an additional $2,000 for a special meeting Sept. 30 when the board will hear testimony from Liston’s planner and the objecting neighbors. Langer said that if the matter is not brought to a vote during the Sept. 30 meeting, the entire case will be delayed until January or February of 2016 since the board’s calendar is already completely full for the remainder of the year.
The application for the 13 homes covers just the southernmost portion of the Camp Osborn neighborhood which, before Sandy struck, was operated under a land-lease agreement. Osborn owned the land and charged homeowners – who owned the physical homes on the site – rent. Osborn would not own the land or the homes proposed for the site; each would be individually owned with a homeowners’ association owning some common property, including a road, some landscaping and a beach access point.
The remainder of Camp Osborn is controlled by two homeowners associations, neither of which have proposed a redevelopment plan to the township.