Plans to replace a senior housing complex with 400 market rate units in Absecon still await Zoning Board approval, and testimony is expected to resume for a sixth meeting next month, with no decision expected until December.
The Absecon Zoning Board held its fifth meeting Tuesday for the application on Visions at the Shore - a complex on Pitney Road owned by Amboy Bank that is currently zoned for 55-and-older housing.
But Amboy - citing a decline in the senior housing market - has asked the board to eliminate the age restriction and approve a plan for 400 units for all ages. The bank then plans to sell the land to another developer if approved to construct the project.
Each of the meetings have lasted up to three hours partly because 11 of the current 17 owners of the project formed an organization named Concerned Citizens of ABV Absecon to oppose the application. They hired attorney Raymond Wentcq.who has cross examined Amboy’s experts and presented other professionals to dissuade the board from Amboy’s plan.
But at Tuesday’s meeting, it was announced four members of the group have left the organization and have formed an agreement with Amboy Bank, according to their attorney Brian Callaghancq. This new group of owners is in favor of Amboy’s new proposal.
Callaghan declined to state the reason for why the property owners changed their minds or if they were given incentives by Amboy to break from ABV citing a confidentiality agreement his clients made with the property owners.
Amboy attorney Jack Placktercq also declined to comment on the split by the four owners.
ABV member Bob Vargocq said he and the rest of the remaining members of the group found out about the split a few hours before Tuesday’s meeting. He said he did not know details of why they split, but is concerned the move could impact the board’s decision.
The group was initially started by residents who wanted to live in a senior housing community and did not want it to change, he said.
“They have changed landscape of situation drastically,” he said.
Went said he was not told as to why the members decided to leave
“I represent an organization that opposes the senior housing designation,” he said. “I do not know anything about what (those who left the organization) do.”
Beyond asking the board not to grant Amboy the waiver to remove the 55-and-older designation Went has also supplied evidence at meetings the proposal would not be a fit for the site due to a variety of reasons including the proposals density, traffic and impact on the school system.
Part of the proposal includes 60 affordable housing units, which could help the city meet its state Council on Affordable Housing obligations.
The board said Tuesday they expect to allow closing arguments for Amboy bank and final input from the city’s professional staff at the Nov. 20 meeting. The board members said if all the remaining testimony is heard next month it would announce its decision in Dec. 18 meeting.
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