A plan before the Brick Township Planning Board calls for a 2.6 acre lot owned by St. Pio of Pietrelcina Roman Catholic church to be subdivided into 21 lots, on which single-family homes will be built.
The church is located in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes of Route 35 in the township’s Normandy Beach section. It is part of the larger St. Pio of Pietrelcina parish, which is based in Lavallette. Once open year-round, the church in recent years was mainly opened during the summer months and rumors of its closure have swirled for some time due to dwindling attendance. The church never re-opened after Superstorm Sandy struck in 2012, during which the building received heavy damage. Its parking lot has been used as a staging area for work crews in the two-and-a-half years since the storm devastated the barrier island.
Richard DiFolco, an engineer hired by the parish, told the township’s planning board that that site will be graded with imported fill, and 21 single-family homes will be constructed, each of which will include driveways, garages and landscaping. The plan does not require any variances and the lots will conform to current township zoning ordinances, officials said.
Aside from the church building, the bulk of the lot is currently covered in asphalt and is about 90 percent impervious. The impervious portion of the plot of land will be reduced to between 40 and 50 percent once the project is completed, the developer testified, leading to environmental benefits. George Harms Construction, which is currently using the church’s lot as a staging area for the ongoing Route 35 reconstruction project, will demolish and church building and rip up the parking lot upon completion, officials said.
Approximately 9,000 cubic feet of fill will be brought in to raise the elevation of the homes, DiFolco said. Each of the homes will conform to FEMA flood standards; the plot of land is in an ‘A’ zone with an elevation requirement of nine feet. The finished floor level of each home is planned to be at an elevation of 11 feet, with a crawl space (complete with flood vents) underneath each building.
Unlike the homes proposed for a portion of the former Camp Osborn neighborhood, just north of the church property, the 21 homes proposed will comply with the township’s “cookie cutter” ordinance, each being constructed with a different exterior facade, said DiFolco. The homes, which will each include four bedrooms, will be individually owned – no homeowners’ association is planned. Each home will include between four and seven spaces for cars to park off the street, and each driveway will include room for a vehicle to make a “K” turn to avoid having to back out onto the street.
The planning board will continue hearing testimony on the project at its April 22 meeting. Several residents of neighboring streets have cited concerns over the fill material and grading, and are expected to raise those concerns before the board. The Normandy Beach Improvement Association has hired Stephan R. Leone, of the firm Carluccio, Leone, Dimon, Doyle & Sacks, of Toms River, to represent its interests in the matter.