A series of hearings on an application by a national home builder to construct a 59-home development in the township’s Breton Woods section will continue into July following more than three hours of testimony and cross-examination at a special meeting Monday night.
Representatives from D.R. Horton, an Arlington, Tx.-based home builder, has proposed the development on the approximately 30-acre parcel. The site is legally zoned to permit the construction of single-family homes, however residents from neighboring communities are objecting the proposal, arguing that it will bring increased traffic to the area and disrupt a forested area that has been effectively serving as open space for decades. The land is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton by way of the Church of the Visitation, and despite flickers of interest by Ocean County officials in preserving the site, the diocese has never pursued such a transaction thus far, officials said.
The site is located off Laurel Avenue, just north of Drum Point Road.
Monday night’s hearing focused primarily on soil compaction issues and drainage. D.R. Horton is proposing five bio-retention basins and porous pavement that will filter rainwater and runoff. Some objectors, however, have expressed concern over a plan to place a homeowners’ association in charge of maintenance of the basins, with several residents questioning what might prevent – over the course of years – the association failing to keep up with the required maintenance.
“The homeowner’s obligation to join the association is a deeded requirement,” said John A. Giunco, attorney for D.R. Horton, explaining that assessments for maintenance must be paid by homeowners and there is no choice but to keep the association active. “Each homeowners would be responsible for one fifty-ninth of an assessment.”
The soil on the site itself is mostly sandy, a geologist hired by D.R. Horton testified.
“We encountered predominantly sandy conditions, from anywhere from a dense to loose state,” said James Ward, a licensed professional geologist in Pennsylvania, where he is based. “We did 15 test pits and hit no ground water. Based on our probing of the soils, we determined that the site is suitable for residential housing development.”
Responding to a question from a resident later in the hearing, Ward said crews hit water at about 9.5 feet in the lowest area, though in other areas, dozens of feet of penetration did not reach a water source.
The planning board adjourned the meeting after an attorney representing the objectors, plus members of the public, completed their cross-examinations of witnesses. D.R. Horton has additional witnesses, including an engineer and planner, who will both provide additional testimony and be subject to cross-examination. The objecting parties may also call witnesses at future hearings.
The hearing will pick back up July 17 at 7 p.m. Due to the large amount of public interest, the meeting will be held at Civic Plaza, 270 Chambers Bridge Road, the largest venue owned by the township.