2012-06-21 / Front Page
Plan for 1,500 rentals approved
230 units to be designated as affordable housing in Jackson development
The Jackson Planning Board has given the go-ahead to a developer who plans to construct 1,500 rental units on a 611-acre site in Jackson.
More than four hours of testimony was presented on June 4 for the Jackson Woods development. Attorney Raymond Shea, who represents the applicant, said he believes the plan could be a boon for the township.
“We think we’ve got something exciting and valuable for Jackson,” Shea said.
The property where Jackson Woods is proposed to be built is between West Commodore Boulevard, Freehold Road and Cedar Swamp Road in Jackson. The development will consist of three sections: north, southeast and southwest. Although all of units in the project will be rentals, the southeast section will feature 539 townhouses, while the north and southwest areas will have 510 and 492 apartments for rent, respectively.
“A vast majority [of the units feature] one or two bedrooms, with a very small number of three-bedroom units,” Shea said. “We don’t expect this to be [done in] sequential constructions. We are hoping there will be construction for all three [sections] in one year.”
The board’s planner, Anna Wainwright, said that of the 1,541 new units, 231 units will be designated as affordable housing. Those affordable housing units, which will be rented at below market rates, will be interspersed among the units that will be rented at market rates.
The affordable housing units “will be virtually indistinguishable from the other units,” Wainwright said.
Project designer Joel Schwartz said that in each section of Jackson Woods, residents will have access to 16-foot-wide, one-way roads. In lieu of traditional parking lots, Schwartz said the plan calls for parallel parking spaces in order to “reduce the scale and expanse of blacktop.”
“Given the choice, most of us would rather not live in a parking lot. It’s just not pretty,” Schwartz said. “In doing so, the transformation … is just enormous.”
Board members asked if there would be enough parking provided for residents and visitors.
According to Wainwright, the project’s parking estimates were based on two-bedroom units.
Board members were also concerned with a number of safety and logistical issues that cropped up regarding the layout of the development’s roads.
“The plan has a lot of great aspects, but when it comes to snow removal it poses a lot of challenges,” said Township Council President Kenneth Bressi, who sits on the board.
Planning Board alternate member Richard Egan wanted to make certain the development’s roads could accommodate emergency vehicles.
The applicant’s representatives said there were areas of the streets that flared out to provide more turning room for larger vehicles such as fire trucks and school buses, as well as mountable curbs where no parking spaces would be located.
Other items discussed included two 78- foot-deep ponds in the southeast section of Jackson Woods that would be stocked with fish, and a potential walkway that would connect the different sections of the development.
“If properly envisioned and implemented, I think this would be an asset to the community,” Township Engineer Dan Burke said of the walkways.
Board members unanimously approved the Jackson Woods application. The applicant was expected to appear before the board on June 18 to address several requested waivers and variances.
Board members expressed optimism that the project will be a benefit to the community.
“I have seen many applications over the years and I have to say that … although 1,500 units sounds like a lot for a town, I feel it is an asset to the town,” Bressi said.
“We are bending over backward to get this done. We are hoping [the applicant] will continue to work with us,” board Chairman Robert Hudak said.