Brick Township and Ocean County officials are still interested in purchasing the Breton Woods property where 59 homes have been proposed by Texas-based real estate developer D.R. Horton on behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton. Meanwhile, new documents have been posted by the township’s planning board, shining light on what residents can expect at a hearing next week which could end in a vote on the development.
The property remains under the owner of the diocese, according to tax records, though a diocesan spokesperson told Shorebeat that any negotiations would have to take place with the developer. Mayor John Ducey, during a virtual town hall session last week, confirmed that there is still interest in a public purchase of the property, located off Laurel Avenue and Drum Point Road, in order for it to be preserved.
“We still want to buy it,” Ducey said. “We have a partner in the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust and we also have a private foundation that is interested in helping us buy it to keep it open space.”
Ducey said officials have envisioned simply leaving the property be as preserved land, with the possibility of adding a small playground area for the nearby Osbornville Elementary School, which backs up to the 30-acre tract that was donated years ago to Visitation Roman Catholic Church.
“Beyond that, just keeping it as woods is something we’re very interested in,” said Ducey. “Right now, they’re going forward with their application, and we haven’t come to any type of agreement yet.”
Real property, when donated to the church, ultimately comes under the jurisdiction of the diocese. A decade ago, the diocese had floated the idea of using the parcel as a cemetery, but retreated from the plan after facing opposition by neighboring residents. Ironically, fewer hurdles are faced in obtaining approval for 59 homes since the land is zoned for single-family residential development, with the proposed homes complying with township ordinances. The development is being vehemently opposed by residents of neighboring streets, as well as local environmental organizations. Attorneys have been hired to formally object to the proposal, and have centered much of their case on environmental issues.
The latest in a number of hearings, most of which have lasted three to four hours, is scheduled for next week. At the last hearing, held in October, D.R. Horton’s representatives faced pushback regarding a plan to utilize porous pavement in the development’s streets, which township officials have said would require extra maintenance which would have to be financed by taxpayers. The company has held that the pavement helps the development comply with stormwater regulations, is more environmentally-friendly than traditional macadam, and is permitted under state land use laws.
Documents in preparation for next week’s meeting have been posted by the planning board to the township’s website, indicating more testimony on the pavement issue is at hand. Attorney John Giunco, representing D.R. Horton, proffered additional documents concerning the pavement. The township engineer, Elissa Commins, provided her own comments on the issue. Those documents are embedded below this story.
The Breton Woods application is the only matter on the agenda for next week’s meeting. Due to the level of public interest in the application, the meeting is being held at Civic Plaza, 270 Chambers Bridge Road, instead of the town hall meeting room. The Monday, Dec. 12 meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
In what is expected to be a lengthy, marathon hearing which will include a public comment session, a vote may finally be taken on whether the project meets the criteria for approval.
Read the Document: