A hearing before the township’s planning board on a proposal to construct 59 single-family homes on a parcel of land in the Breton Woods section spanned more than three hours Monday night, but has still yet to reach its conclusion.
Monday night’s testimony, heard at Civic Plaza due to the large crowd that came to participate, focused primarily on an environmental impact statement filed by the developer, D.R. Horton. A full copy of the environmental impact statement is embedded below this story.
The homes would be built on a roughly square-shaped parcel of land off Laurel Avenue, a side street that runs between Mantoloking and Drum Point roads. The 31.63 acre property is currently owned by Visitation Roman Catholic Church, located on Mantoloking Road. It would be sold to D.R. Horton for an undisclosed price if the development proposal is approved, with the 59 divided properties then being re-sold to homeowners.
Residents in adjacent neighborhoods have fought development efforts on the property for years, dissuading the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton from building a cemetery on the land about a decade ago. The property is legally zoned for residential development, however residents have raised questions regarding traffic and environmental concerns. The latter was the subject of Monday night’s hearing.
Kristin Wildman, an environmental consultant who specializes in wetlands, testified before the board. Wildman, of the firm DuBois and Associates, of Manahawkin, said the property would be largely cleared of trees, with current plans calling for 1,100 of them to be replaced. She was unable to determine the percentage of trees the 1,100 replacements would represent under questioning by a resident. Plans call for an ambitious construction schedule.
“The incremental plan we have is to clear one acre a day, from one side of the site to the other side of the site,” said Wildman.
Numerous animal species reside on the property. None are endangered or threatened, though theoretically the conditions on the property could support three types of those species.
Several speakers – some from the surrounding neighborhood and others encouraged to attend the meeting by the environmental group Save Barnegat Bay – inquired about the northern pine snake, a threatened species whose alleged presence was utilized by objectors to prevent the construction of a Walmart in Manchester. But while one resident said he had seen the snake species on the wooded property, Wildman said the state Department of Environmental Protection did not identify Brick Township as being an area where the species was located.
A collective groan from the assembled crowd could be heard when Wildman said that animals which currently live on the site would naturally disperse to other locations.
“What you’re doing is fragmenting the habitation of this lot,” said resident Julie Gaffney. “I have deer in my backyard already. How are these animals going to live in this patch of woods?”
Wildman replied that there is an area of open space about two-thirds the size of the property in question located about 750-feet away, and a preservation area about three times the size about 1,000 feet away.
“The majority of the impacts will be during construction and are temporary,” the report stated. “These impacts will end once the construction is complete. The residential project is compatible with the development patterns of the area and the site is suitable for such development. The project will not result in an increase in air pollution, contamination, noise or the degradation of ground or surface water quality.”
The report did note, however, that the project will reduce the amount of forestry in Brick Township.
“The project will result in disturbance to a pine-oak forest,” the report said. “Areas of existing trees will be cleared to
accommodate buildings, roadway paving, and bioretention basins.”
The hearing will continue June 20 at 7 p.m., again at Civic Plaza, 270 Chambers Bridge Road. It is expected that an engineer and planner will be available for testimony at the next hearing.