ABSECON — The city’s Zoning Board heard more testimony Tuesday on a proposal to build 400 homes in the city, but a decision is at least a month away.
The board heard an application for Visions at the Shore, which is owned by Amboy Bank, to eliminate the current zoning for a 55-and-older project and allow 400 units to be constructed for all ages instead at the Pitney Road complex.
Amboy Bank does not intend to build the units, but instead sell the land to another developer if the new plan is approved.
Under the proposal, there would be 60 affordable-housing units — 12 one-bedroom, 12 three-bedroom and 36 two-bedroom. The rest would be one-bedroom and two-bedroom market-rate homes. Visions has not determined how many of the multifamily units would be for sale and how many for rent.
The proposal includes 912 parking spaces and the addition of a traffic light at Pitney Road and Crestview Avenue in front of the complex.
“The signal would add a highly beneficial level of safety,” Visions’ traffic analyst Maurice Rached said.
But the board questioned Rached’s weeklong traffic study because it was held in November when there is less traffic and during a teachers convention when the school was closed for a few days.
“That one week may not tell the whole story,” said board attorney John Rosenberger, who requested a traffic study be done when school was in session.
Rached said the traffic light would react and adjust depending on the volume of traffic. He said the different seasons would not significantly affect traffic and the solution would be to add a traffic light anyway.
The site originally was approved for 264 units and was then increased to 369 units for residents 55 and older. But the applicant asked the board to remove the senior-housing designation because it claims it is no longer feasible to sell the remaining homes in the current market.
Visions marketed the complex from 2006 to 2010 and had only 17 sales.
A group of 11 current owners has hired lawyer Raymond Went and is in discussions with the developer. Went said the residents have formed a group called Concerned Citizens of ABV Absecon.
The board declined to hear testimony regarding the financial implications of the complex.
Visions consultant Richard Reading said the complex would have about 844 residents, including 73 children. The complex would be assessed at about $52.3 million, but overall taxpayers would lose about $164,000 on the complex — largely because of the number of children expected to occupy the affordable units.
Those units would help the city meet its obligation under the state Council on Affordable Housing.
Rosenberger said the board should disregard the financial costs when voting whether to approve the complex. They are not obligated to consider that information under the state’s municipal land-use laws, he said.
“This information does not assist you in reaching the zoning decision you have taken an oath to administer,” he said.
Nearly 100 people attended the first meeting in May, but it was adjourned at 11 p.m. after 3½ hours of testimony. The crowd Tuesday was a few dozen people. The public comment period was moved to the next meeting. The board will not vote without hearing from the public.
Visions attorney Jack Plackter finished presenting his application Tuesday. The board then adjourned the meeting at 10:35 p.m.
Removing the senior-housing designation has been a controversial topic in the city as a group of residents formed the Save Absecon Committee and sued the city Planning Board’s removal of senior housing from the downtown Absecon Gardens project. The court ruled the city acted under state law and the developer, Boardwalk Design & Development Inc. in Margate, hopes to start selling units this summer.
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