Eatontown zoning board approves senior living facility

Members of the Eatontown Zoning Board of Adjustment have approved an application that proposed the construction of a 177-unit Brightview Senior Living facility on a vacant property at the southwest corner of Route 36 and Wyckoff Road.

The building will include a three-story senior living congregate care and assisted living facility.

During a meeting on June 10, following testimony regarding Brightview Eatontown, LLC’s application to construct the senior living facility, residents were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments before board members voted on the application.

The applicant was seeking variances to construct a 73,426-square-foot Brightview Senior Living facility on a vacant parcel across from the Monmouth Mall, which is at the intersection of Route 35 and Route 36.

The applicant was seeking use and bulk variance relief to develop the 8.45-acre site with an age-restricted building, driveways, parking, storm water management facilities, lighting and landscaping. The application required a use variance from the zoning board because the proposed use is not permitted in the R-20 residential zone.

A small group of residents expressed concern with what they described as the negative impact the building could have on the environment and home values. They also expressed concern about an increase in the number of vehicles traveling through the area and the overuse of a municipal sewage line.

Attorney Jennifer S. Krimko, who represents the applicant, and professional planner John Szabo responded to questions that evening.

Resident Anthony Snyder asked, “What is the (project’s) benefit to Eatontown?”

Szabo described the senior living facility as “an inherently beneficial use” which “will serve a significant need in the community to provide an alternative form of senior housing.”

Resident Joan Williams said she believes the property should remain an R-20 zone. Williams attempted to submit a petition which she said included 600 signatures from individuals who are against commercial development in the R-20 zone.

The zoning board’s attorney, Marc Leckstein, said the board could not legally accept the petition because Krimko would not have the ability to cross-examine every person who signed the petition.

“This is a commercial, money making, 155-employee business,” resident Sara Breslow said. “Brightview is arguing their project is the least possible evil. It is an evil, nonetheless, and I for one have had enough.”

Resident Nancy Massa, who lives near the site, said she is concerned the value of her home would decrease if the property is developed with a commercial use.

“The closeness is untenable,” Massa said.

According to previous testimony, the proposed facility would house 86 congregate care units, 56 assisted living units and 35 dementia care units. Krimko said 10% of the units would be set aside for Medicaid patients and would help Eatontown fulfill its state mandated obligation to provide affordable housing.

David Holland, vice president of Brightview Senior Living, previously described the nature of the rental facility, which would be for individuals age 62 and older. He said communal areas such as a library, art studio, theater, pub and multi-purpose room are proposed.

Holland said engineers “reduced the scale of the building” to accommodate requests made by residents who live near the site. A section of the building near a neighboring development was reduced to one story.

Holland said the three-story section of the building would face Route 36. He said between 110 and 130 full-time and part-time employees would be hired. He testified that 155 parking spaces are proposed toward the front of the building near Route 36 and Wyckoff Road.

After residents made their comments about the application, a motion was made to grant the requested use and bulk variances, and preliminary and final major site plan approval for Brightview Eatontown LLC.

On a roll call, Chairman Kenneth East, Vice Chairwoman Candace Faust and board members Robert Gilmore, Richard Liszanckie, Ralph Anderson and Seth Mednick voted “yes” to approve the application. Board member Salvatore Granata voted “no” without comment.