GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – The township Planning Board approved eliminating the 55-and-older age restriction for a previously approved 944-unit complex at the former Blue Heron Pines East championship golf course at Thursday’s meeting.

Ole Hansen and Sons Inc., owners of the roughly 400-acre property off Tilton Road near Pomona Road and Aloe Street, applied to the township to remove the age restriction and allow housing for all ages on the site.

The property was previously approved six years ago for senior housing, and some changes have been made to the plans for the $233.2 million complex to accommodate a residential community for all ages. Changes included adding fields, playgrounds, a basketball court and picnic areas. The company is also providing a recreation fee of $700 per unit for all nonaffordable housing units to the township.

The change is controversial to some residents who worry about the tax impact on the school district. The measure to change the age restriction is allowed under a 2009 state law regarding these type of complexes that have been approved but have yet to begin construction.

Because the project is a permitted use under the law, the board could not base its decision on traffic or impact on taxes.

The developer has yet to submit the final design for the plan, and Ole Hansen attorney Stephen Nehmad said there currently is no timetable for when construction will start. He said with the approval, they can now move forward to begin the process to market the homes.

Nehmad argued the application met the requirements of the state law and thus the conversion should be permitted.

The developer is required to set aside 20 percent of the development for affordable housing units. The plan calls for 189 of these units to be built at the site in one cluster. Nehmad said the units could not be mixed with the rest of the units because it would be more cost effective to be build and manage the property.

Mayor Don Purdy, who sits on the board, and resident Anna Jezycki said they don’t want the affordable housing units to be clustered together and instead mixed in so it was not clear who were owners and who rented affordable units.

An Ole Hanson-sponsored report by Richard P. Reading Associates, of Princeton, suggested the development would add about 2,587 people to the 39,050-person township, including 248 grade-school children and 117 high school-age children.

Worked as a reporter for various weekly newspapers in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties before joining The Press many moons (and editors) ago as a business copy editor. Passionate about journalism, averse to serial commas.