With a hearing before the Brick Township planning board scheduled for Wednesday night on an application to build a hotel, apartment units and retail space at the intersection of Route 88, Burrsville Road and Jack Martin Boulevard, elected officials and candidates for office in town all came out in opposition to the project over the past two days.
Residents who reside in neighborhoods surrounding the triangular-shaped plot of land which is slated for development have flooded planning board meetings and also came to a township council meeting last week to voice their disapproval with the proposal, which calls for a 103 room Marriott Residence Inn hotel, 66 apartments and 39,475 square feet of retail space. The residents have cited concerns over traffic, the potential use of their residential streets as cut-throughs to major roads, and who would occupy the long-term occupancy hotel and rental units.
Four GOP candidates for township council issued a joint statement this week expressing their opposition to the plan, while Democratic Councilwoman Andrea Zapcic – who is also running in this year’s council race – said she was against the development project as well.
“Frankly, the neighborhood residents are right and I oppose this project,” Zapcic said. “We do not need more high-density development in our town. We already have too much overdevelopment and too much traffic.”
Michael Conti, a Republican township council candidate, said he and his running mates are concerned over the traffic impact and a potential influx of students 66 new apartment units would bring to township schools.
“We’re not telling the planning board what to do, but as a group, we’re adamantly against the project,” said Conti. “It’s a project that is going to irreparably affect the people of Forge Pond Road. I get the idea of having something close to Ocean Medical Center, but it just doesn’t fit. It’s the wrong type of development for Brick.”
Bob Moore, an independent candidate for council, also expressed concern over the project.
“I like the idea of the hotel, but only the hotel,” said Moore, adding that he is not in favor of apartments or more retail space.
The township council does not have a formal say on whether the project is approved. That decision is squarely in the hands of the planning board, whose members will continue hearing the development application for the project Wednesday night at a 7 p.m. meeting at the township municipal complex.
Last week, Township Attorney Kevin Starkey advised Mayor John Ducey and township council members against commenting on the plan since public statements by elected officials who do not serve on the planning board could lead to litigation down the road.
According to the application, the hotel would be operated separately from the residential portion of the site. The residential portion would be located above the retail space and managed by the same agency that manages the Brick Gardens complex in town. The apartments will range from 800 to 900 square foot single bedroom units to 1,300 square foot two bedroom units, the project’s developer has said.
The application calls for access to be split between the hotel and the retail and apartment portions of the site. There would be an access location off Route 88 and two access locations from Burrsville. The hotel would feature a traditional drop-off area, plus a half basketball court as well as an outdoor plaza where guests could lounge.
As part of the project, the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority has agreed to move an outflow pipe away from the freshwater portion of the Metedeconk River and divert it to the tidal portion of the river in order to avoid excess runoff being washed into Brick’s drinking water.
The planning board meeting set for Wednesday night may or may not lead to a final vote on whether the project should be approved. In its quasi-judicial format, the board hears testimony from an applicant until a full case is presented. When the testimony is complete, members of the public may be sworn in and offer their own testimony for or against the application at hand before a vote is taken. If the testimony from the applicant, Kamson Corp., it may be carried to a future meeting.
Wednesday night’s meeting agenda also includes testimony on a site plan from Denino’s Pizza, a separate application being heard by the board.