Brick Township’s planning board has approved an application by the Pioneer Hose fire company to expand its firehouse on Drum Point Road.
The fire company applied to the board for permission to demolish a portion of the existing fire station and construct a new building addition to provide for a new garage that will be able to accommodate four fire engines. The application also included plans to develop a driveway and parking area.
The plan has been approved by the board and will be memorialized in a resolution at a future meeting, said Township Planner Mike Fowler.
The expansion of the fire house will allow the company to keep its modern fire apparatus at the station, fire officials said. In addition to several smaller vehicles, the company operates three pumper trucks, a heavy rescue vehicle and a ladder truck.
The permission from the township to renovate the firehouse is separate from a pending sale of approximately10 acres of land adjacent to the building. No plan for development of the land has been submitted to the township, Fowler said.
Officials confirmed to Shorebeat that the plot of land adjacent to the firehouse is for sale and negotiations were ongoing with a potential buyer. Pioneer Hose company President Mike Berger declined to comment on the details of the matter in a recent conversation, except to say that no sale was finalized despite a contract with a buyer apparently in place.
The potential sale has caused concern among residents whose homes neighbor the tract, with some setting up a Facebook page where updates are occasionally posted.
“We have many concerns: wildlife, traffic, drainage and close proximity to the Barnegat Bay,” resident Jessica Deichman said in an e-mail to Shorebeat.
But most of all, the residents say they were under the impression that the land was preserved, and development could lead to quality-of-life issues. One resident sent Shorebeat a photo of a red-tailed hawk on the property, touting its value as a wildlife habitat. The 10 acres owned by Pioneer Hose abuts another 17 acres that are already preserved by public agencies.
Attempts have been made to connect fire company officials with the Trust for Public Land, said Britta Wenzel, Executive Director of Save Barnegat Bay, which has also become involved in the issue. The organization, which purchases land for preservation purposes, was told the money it would be willing to offer was not sufficient, sources said.
The 10 acres fall within Brick’s R7.5 zone, which allows for residential development of single-family homes on 7,500 square foot lots. Township officials have said the property is owned by the company itself – not the municipal government – so it does not control whether or not it can be sold.