Owners of a failed age-restricted development want another crack at developing the Galloway Township tract, but this time they want to build the same 944 homes for all ages.
The township Planning Board is expected to hear a proposal at its Jan. 17 meeting by Ole Hansen & Sons Inc. to rezone the 410-acre Blue Heron Pines East parcel off Tilton Road near Pomona Road and Aloe Street.
When complete, the $233.2 million project would add 944 residences to the tract, according to a company filing with the township. This would include 566 single-family homes, 236 semi-detached units and 142 apartments.
The single-family homes would sell for between $275,000 and $325,000, while the semi-detached units would sell for between $180,000 and $225,000, according to the filing. The apartments would rent, on average, for $1,539 per month.
A report by Richard P. Reading Associates of Princeton said the development would add an estimated 2,587 people to the 39,050-person township. This would include 248 grade-school children and 117 high school-age children.
The Reading Associates report argued the taxes generated by the development would more than cover the associated costs, and that the school districts and township and county governments would see a cumulative $758,490 surplus because of the project.
The Township Council voted this week to recommend the Planning Board review the application. Tiffany Cuviello, the township planner, said the board would decide whether the application is consistent with the township’s master plan.
If it is consistent, then the Township Council can elect to approve the rezoning, she said. If it is inconsistent, the governing body could still approve the rezoning with a supermajority vote by five of the seven members, or elect to amend the master plan.
David M. Goddard, Ole Hanson & Sons president and CEO, said the company was excited by the opportunities the project creates for Galloway, including promoting commercial development, creating tax revenues and local jobs, and boosting local businesses. He said the company is looking forward to meeting with township officials.
Goddard said there was no set timeline to break ground, since “the region and nation (are) still in a recession, particularly the housing market, and will be for more years to come.” He said the company hopes to get the zoning amendment and land-use approvals in time for an improved housing market.
Ole Hansen is one of the region’s larger private companies and has diversified interests. Founded in 1931 with roots in heavy construction, its associated companies now include the Atlantic City Transportation Center off of the Black Horse Pike in Atlantic City, the Margate Bridge Co. and the Hidden Creek Golf Club.
Its parcel is the site of the former Blue Heron Pines East Golf Course, in the shadow of the nearby Atlantic City International Airport. The course opened in 2000, but closed in 2006 in a wave of similar closings in a glutted golf market nationwide as the company looked to build age-restricted housing.
Without apparent subsequent maintenance, the overgrown fairways at Blue Heron Pines East these days now more closely resemble weedy, windblown Scottish links than the smoothly manicured course that was once rated one of the top 100 public courses in the nation and hosted the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
The age-restricted project relied on developer K. Hovnanian Homes to develop the course into a residential community with a nine-hole course. Part of the agreement included approval of the 944 units with none set aside for affordable housing.
However, when the township approvals in 2006 mandated 140 affordable housing units, Hansen sued. The company and township later settled on Hansen providing land for affordable housing and paying $700 per unit for recreation.
The development deal between the two firms finally concluded in 2010. Other abandoned projects at the site have included a continuing-care retirement community, industrial park and a hotel complex, Goddard said. The tract is assessed at $18.3 million, according to township records, and had a $258,605 tax liability in 2012.
Since the initial approval, the once-booming market for age-restricted housing has cratered. In response, state officials passed legislation in 2009 to allow developers of approved, unbuilt age-restricted projects to petition towns to remove the age limits, as long as 20 percent of the development is set aside for affordable housing.
But the conversion process has proved slow, marked across the state by loud opposition from neighbors and officials who once welcomed the seniors-only projects.
The Nov. 14 filing by Stephen R. Nehmad, of Nehmad, Perillo and Davis, largely followed the lines of the 2006 township approval. The proposed zoning change would alter all references of “age-restricted” to “residential” housing and permit accessory buildings, such as sheds.
Project requirements remain unchanged, according to township documents. For instance, the single-family homes would be on minimum 50-foot by 100-foot lots, set at least 25 feet back from the street and spaced at least 16 feet apart. Semi-detached units would have smaller minimum property sizes.
Goddard said the plans on the company’s website, which date from the age-restricted development and correspond to the current proposal, are not meant to represent the company’s intentions at the tract. Any specific designs have not been made public.
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