After soliciting questions from the public about Manalapan planning, Planning Board Chairman John McNaboe has compiled a list of responses to your questions!
Q: What are the township plans for the Route 33 corridor?
A: It is my sincere belief that Route 33 will not ever become a Route 9. The current “green belt” with berm requirements – set backs – large parcels -will prevent that. The zoning has been “tweaked” to allow for uses not envisioned or allowed for in the past. The Wawa is an example of a necessary evil. Although it was a shame to lose many mature trees, Wawa is a clean and necessary operation to many other alternatives. Remember, the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) allows for development of the property. We have control in what is to be built, but not to stop all development because we do not want it.
Q: Is it possible to increase the amount of side walk space in Manalapan and make the town ‘bike friendly’ and ‘walk/jog friendly’?
A: There is a bike path/trail plan in the Township. I believe the Transportation Committee is always looking for additional input. Please feel free to stop by a Transportation Committee meeting and bring up this idea. As always, the Mayor can be reached thru e-mail or at the Township Committee meetings.
Q: What is the status of the ‘village’. Is it on hold? Is the project dead?
A: “The Village” as it has been known, is at the corner of Route 33 and Route
527 (Millhurst Road). The total project is approximately 135 acres. The developer has received a “General Development Plan” (GDP) approval to build about 500,000 s.f. of retail at this location. This square footage is approximately the size of the Epicentre on Symmes Road and Route 9. It will include a supermarket and various other smaller stores, restaurants, banking, etc. A portion of the property was subdivided for a solar field. Presently, there is a privately owned solar field on the western side of the property. The next move is up to the developer. All the improvements to Route 33 and Route 527 and the new access to Route 33 are controlled by NJDOT. This will happen at the start of the project. Again, here is an example of this Board controlling the “what”, not the “if”.
Q: What is the status of the MOM (Monmouth ocean Middlesex) rail line. Does Manalapan support that? Obviously the more mass transit we have the less crowded the roads would be.
A: The highly contested “MOM” line through Manalapan is an idea I would like to hear more about. I would certainly be interested in a detailed plan showing the train station location, crossing, speed projections, etc. I do not have enough details to speak about this matter.
Q: Are there township plans to install ‘charging stations’ for electric cars?
A: Great idea. Let me know how I can help you get it off the ground. We have an Environmental Commission in town and I think that could be a start. I believe the private industry has built this nation – not government. I think the stores that people spend more time in like restaurants, retail and grocery stores are a great starting point. I think the library and park and ride will follow as the need arises.
Q: Where does the output from the solar farm electric (the one on Route 33, where the ‘village’ was supposed to be constructed) go? Does the township get any benefit?
A: The town gets a tax benefit from the taxes paid by the owner. The amount is still in flux, but it is a ratable. Testimony from the professionals hired by the developer stated that power generated and put into points along the grid will help stabilize it at times of heavy demand. All that being said, it is good, clean, green energy and I’ll take that any day.
Q: What is the ability to access the 'Special Needs Housing Trust/ Fund?
A: The Township has a Special Needs Council that meets every month. I do not know of a Housing Trust Fund, but there are informed people to ask on this subject. Committeeman Ryan Green sits on our Special Needs Council. He has a vast knowledge of this subject. This committee meets each month at Town Hall. Feel free to stop by a meeting.
Q: What are the plans for expanding the Manalapan Recreation Center? Specifically, what is the plan for the the open land right on the border of Englishtown and Manalapan, the corn field?
A: I do not know of any plans to expand the Recreation Center at this time. There was a massive expansion just a few years ago. The town does own the land to the west of the Recreation Center. This was purchased with the future in mind. I believe it will stay in its natural state for years to come. Stop by a Recreation meeting for those in the know.
Q: Do the current proposed amendments to the Master Plan permit car dealerships on the property at the corner of Woodward Rd. and Rt. 33 west bound? Would such development have direct access to Route 33, or only by using Woodward Road?
A: Although there is still some work to be done, it is the belief of the majority of the Board that car dealerships be allowed on Route 33, on both north and south sides from Woodward Road west to the Millstone border. There is great concern on my part to the residential area (i.e. Knob Hill). If an application comes before the Planning Board, the need for mature buffers, trees and wetlands, manmade buffers, fences, berms, etc. will be looked at carefully. When an application is presented, these issues will be examined. The presentation will also show all ingress and egress and if access is permitted by NJDOT to Route 33. The DOT controls access to and from Route 33.
Q: Can I drill for oil on my front yard?
A: Drill here – drill now, but not in Manalapan. May I suggest a solar photovoltaic array on your roof, energy efficient windows and doors. Additional insulation is 90%+ efficient. Maybe think of the electric car engine in #5 as first steps to energy independence.