Galloway Planning Board to Consider Ordinance Change for Ole Hansen and Sons' Project

It's either that or a conversion via the Sarlo Bill.

It will soon be up to the Galloway Township Planning Board to decide if it will grant an ordinance change for Ole Hansen and Sons in relation to a proposed development project across from Blue Heron Pines golf course, or if the group will have to apply for a conversion under the Sarlo Bill on Age-Restricted Housing.

Representatives for the group met with the Planning Board’s Master Plan Subcommittee Thursday night, Feb. 7, to discuss the proposed project to build 944 homes. Initially, the homes were scheduled to be age-restricted, but when the country entered an economic downturn in 2008, the demand for age-restricted housing virtually vanished off the face of the earth.

Ole Hansen and Sons is now looking to convert the project to a development for all ages. The conversion is all but a certainty under the Sarlow Bill. The group has not yet applied for a conversion in that way, and would have until this summer to make application.

Any project approved prior to July 2, 2009 is eligible for conversion under the Sarlo Bill.

However, if the Planning Board grants an ordinance change, the township will have more control over how the project develops, including the size of the lots and any reasonable modifications that need to be made.

The Planning Board first heard plans for the project back in 2005, but due to litigation over recreation and growth sharing, the project was delayed. A settlement was reached in 2009, but by that point, interesting in age-restricted housing had waned.

As part of the settlement agreement, Ole Hansen agreed to pay $2.5 million to the township for affordable housing. The affordable housing can be constructed where the township’s master plan says it should go, not necessarily on the site being developed.

Under the Sarlow Bill, 20 percent of the development would have to be set aside for affordable housing. This amounts to about 189 of the 944 total units.

If a change is granted, the current plan for affordable housing could stand. However, the project would then have to go back before the Planning Board and be subject to approval once again. No part of the original project would necessarily remain the same.

“If we do the change, we can create specific guidelines,” Township Planner Tiffany Cuviello said. “We can say there has to be so many age-restricted homes and so many homes have to be a certain size. Anyone (in Ole Hansen’s position) would pursue Sarlo because there’s no market for age-restricted homes. Changing the zoning guidelines gives us the opportunity to create better guidelines.”

She said that at the time the project began, age-restricted housing was a good solution for the township to meet Pinelands requirements, but that solution was no longer realistic.

Galloway Mayor Don Purdy said the Sarlo Bill “ties the township’s hands.”

“The board can make recommendations and make sure restrictions are attached to it” if the ordinance change is passed, Purdy said.

“I wouldn’t normally be in favor of passing something like this, but given the option, I think it’s the best thing for the township,” Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola said. “It comes down to do you want to have some control or no control, because it is coming.”

Previously, the Galloway Township Board of Education expressed concern about the number of students the development would bring to the township, stating it felt the 248 students projected for the elementary schools and the 117 for the high school was too low. According to Richard Reading, who studied Richard Perniciaro’s financial analysis conducted in 2007, the population of students has declined, and has not even met the modest projections Perniciaro set forth in his last report. Reading said there are 1,170 less students in the two school systems now than there were at the school districts’ peak, from 2005-2008.

“Even if our projections were off by 200 or 300 percent, we wouldn’t exceed that number,” said attorney Steven Nemad, who was representing Ole Hansen and Sons.

He added the influx of students would stabilize the school districts.

“It would put students in seats that would otherwise be empty,” Nemad said.

Reading added that he felt additional homes would guarantee more retail within Galloway Township, where he said over half the population is leaving the township to do its shopping.

Reading also responded to questions of population characteristics set forth at the previous Master Plan meeting.

“We were told the township’s population characteristics were so unique you couldn’t use a statewide model,” Reading said.

He said that according to the 2010 census, the median age of Galloway residents was 36.6, while the median age for the county was 37 and 39 for the state; there are 2.64 people per home in Galloway, compared to 2.61 in the rest of the county; 25 percent of the township is 55 years old, compared to 26.7 percent in the county; and 16 percent of the township is 65 and older, the exact same percentage as the rest of the state.

Cuviello will draft a report for the rest of the Planning Board to consider. A public hearing must still be held, and the Planning Board will make a suggestion for township council to consider. If an ordinance change is granted, Ole Hansen will go back before the Planning Board. According to Cuviello, this process would take longer, but would benefit both sides. Ole Hansen projects the project wouldn’t be completed for another 15-25 years, in any event.

VTPat February 08, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Considering the downward spiral of wages in the area thanks to democrats shoving the trend setting (low wage no benefits) Revel project down our throats and the democrat law written by Sen Sarlo that allows (ah hem) forces this type of development down our throats I submit 2 questions: Why would any family want to move here, and earn low service industry wages without benefits? What will be the end result of this awful expansion of our population, particularly the number of school age kids? I think I know the answer but as pointed out in other posts we can forget about hearing the truth from any local politician or attorney/developers. Question 3: Why put such a dense population near an airport? We have enough of that already.
Keep Galloway Green February 09, 2013 at 01:35 PM
So Ole Hansen started this project in 2005....8 years ago...& they say it might not get done for 25 more years....or 33 total years?....That's laughable. Sounds to me like they want to get approvals so they can sell the property to some builder...who might want to change everything Ole Hansen agrees to. Nothing Ole Hansen & his experts say makes any sense. 1900 new kids in schools = more school taxes. More people = more police/police calls. Who gets approvals to build 15 to 25 years down the road? I'm not buying what Ole Hansen is selling.... I'm all stocked up on BS from Galloway!
VTPat February 09, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Keep galloway green is on the right track here, the most outrageous possibility, the one where taxpayers take it in the throat is the most likely thing to happen. Aided and abetted by our local and state politicians naturally. Developers own our legislators, the proof is in the laws and court decisions.
Hookiss February 10, 2013 at 08:01 AM
Go back to the original Planning Board meeting minutes for this project. Wasn't it Steve Nehmad who in response to a question by a member of the Planning Board (I believe it was Mr. Hanko) if my notes are correct) regarding the possibility of deed restrictions of age restricted housing being overturned should the developer not being able to sell them be able to negate the restriction? Mr. Nehmad called the possibility of that "preposterous" and literally laughed at him. Not so funny now. This council and planning board better get some intestinal fortitude before we end up with another set of "clubs". This project was supposed to be bought by K. Hovnanian who ducked out at the right time and Hansen moved to Florida, abandoned a great commercial rateable (the East course of Blue Heron) and now wants to burden Galloway taxpayers with cheap housing that will fill our schools, continue the increase of crime, and increase our already overburdened infrastructure with a huge PUD. Purdy, Coppola, and this council better concentrate on commercial rateables on the WHP like they promised, rather than caving into this shell game. Listening to Steve Nehmad (who is a great lawyer, and represents his clients well) is a huge mistake. The eyes of Galloway are on you Purdy, Coppola et. al. Let this project whistle by and you're toast next election.
Keep Galloway Green February 11, 2013 at 02:43 AM
The more I think about this project the dumber it seems. Hansen claims they are gonna spend 233mil $$$?....Are they gonna put that into an escrow account or does Galloway just take their word on it?...In 15 - 25 years the cost of everything will be up...including building materials & labor. 233 mil now might cost 300 mil $$ then. ...I think Ole Hansen is trying to get approvals to sell the property. They have no intention of building this costly mess. That's just what is going on with that Visions Project in Absecon. Question is.....what will the new builder build??? .... Council should reject entire project or be stuck with a new set of "Clubs"


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