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Sunday, June 16, 2024

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Plan for 217 Homes for Older Residents Gets Preliminary OK

Christopher South
Engineer John Kornick making a presentation at a Lower Township Council meeting on the redevelopment zone it approved in 2022.

By Christopher South

VILLAS – The Lower Township Planning Board has given preliminary approval to a developer wishing to construct 217 units of housing off Fulling Mill Road for people age 55 and older.

The development would include 115 single-family homes and 102 townhouse units in a section of the township identified more than two years ago as “an area in need of rehabilitation.”

The area, according to John Kornick, project engineer for developer Cape Atlantic Energy LLC, is mixed-use in nature, with predominantly older homes, plus commercial operations and a township sports field. The area is also located near Cape May County Airport.

“This is the most significant development project the township has seen in quite a while,“ Kornick, with K2 Engineering of Haddonfield, said.

Kornick, who is also a principal in the project, said the development, which has 1,000 feet of frontage on Fulling Mill Road, would include a significant amount of green space and provide a variety of amenities to its senior residents, including a pool, bocci courts and pickleball courts.

He said there are probably three different designs for the structures being considered, and the price per unit has not yet been determined.

Attorney John Amenhauser of the DeWeese law firm presented the case for the applicant, saying that for all intents and purposes his client had a by-right application, with no need for variances.

The developers are proposing 644 parking spaces, where 467 are required.

The proposed design includes a single boulevard entrance off Fulling Mill Road. The original plan included two entry points, Kornick said, but the county engineer did not think that was necessary. A traffic study, however, will likely be required for the project.

The engineer said the project would not include large back-to-back yards, with houses 39 feet wide being built to the 20-foot backyard setbacks required by the redevelopment zone ordinance.

This was a matter of concern for a number of Middle Township residents who own homes in the Centennial Village development. The residents felt the new homes would be too close to their properties and asked that they be moved farther away from the property lines, which divide Middle and Lower townships.

The preliminary site plan presented to the Lower Township Planning Board for 217 housing units off Fulling Mill Road. Photo Credit: Christopher South

Kornick said the U.S. Postal Service has requested mailbox clusters within the new development. The developer has been in contact with the Wildwood Water Utility and will have communication with the Lower Township Municipal Utilities Authority related to the project. He said the development would likely require a sanitary sewer pump station.

Planning Board engineer William Cathcart said utilities were a “big deal,” and he believed requirements for maintaining a fire pit and having a fence around the pool would be addressed by the proper agencies. Kornick said property would be held under a homeowners association.

In the public comment portion of the May 16 meeting, those with objections to the plans nearly all came from the Centennial Village development. Major concerns included additional traffic on Fulling Mill Road, possibly tying up emergency vehicles, the drain on the water supply and structures being too close to the residents’ backyards. One resident mentioned the dirt and grime they would have to put up with during construction.

Board member Alyce Parker asked about a vegetative barrier between the new development and the existing properties; Kornick said they were proposing a barrier of wax myrtle. Parker ultimately voted no on the application, which was approved by the other members of the board.

The preliminary approval was given in anticipation of the developer finalizing plans or making agreements with outside agencies, including the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Postal Service, the Wildwood Water Utility, the Cape May County Planning Board and others.

In response to a question before the vote, Amenhauser said the project would not begin for “a long time” due to the needed approvals from other agencies. The application is not yet scheduled to return to the Planning Board for final approval.

Contact the reporter, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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