EATONTOWN: The newest plan for the Monmouth Mall is a scaled-down version of the one presented earlier this year, but the main components remain.
Eatontown Mayor Dennis Connelly detailed the changes made to the plan following discussions between the owners of the Monmouth Mall, the Kushner Companies and borough officials.
The developers said during a May Eatontown Planning Board meeting that were going to walk away from a plan to redevelop the shopping center, following several comments from residents who oppose the plan. A few weeks later, Connelly said that he had been in contact with the Kushner Companies and that their architects were on a new plan.
Kushner Companies had presented a plan in February to turn the mall into and indoor/outdoor mixed use development known as the Monmouth Town Center. In addition to the retail already in place, Kushner Companies was also looking to add a residential component, recreational uses, office space, healthcare facilities, a hotel, a multipurpose plaza area and a market.
The Eatontown Council voted down an ordinance that would have changed the zoning in the area to allow this development to be built following site plan approval from the Eatontown Planning Board. Their intention was to scale the project down, increase buffers to nearby homes and make other adjustments. That appears to have happened according to Connelly's comments during the July 27 Eatontown Council meeting.
"Im very pleased with the dialogue between the Kushner Companies and our borough professionals and I feel that they have been moving in a positive direction," Connelly said.
Among the changes described by Connelly are:
• A reduction in the number of apartments from 800 units to 700 units
• Kushner Companies' affordable housing obligation drops from 15 percent to 12.5 percent, thereby lowering the number of onsite affordable housing units from 141 to 100 or offsite units from 120 to 88.
• The hotel and rooftop golf course have been eliminated from the plan.
• No private or public schools or houses of worship will be allowed on the site.
• The front yard setbacks (from Routes 35 and 36 and Wyckoff Road) have been increased to 125 feet and all other yard setback have been increased to 150 feet.
• The maximum building height allowed has been reduced from 150 feet (the original proposed size of the hotel) to 85 feet.
• The buffers must be at least 75 feet wide on any side yard that includes mixed use.
• Recreational entertainment uses shall not exceed 50 percent of the gross indoor or outdoor leasable space of the regional center. That total does not include the Loews Movie Theater.
Attorney Andrew Bayer said none of the proposed changes are set in stone.
"There are still a number of open issues and nothing is final," Bayer said.
Residents in attendance at the meeting who have opposed the plan in the past continued to do so saying that the reduction in the number of apartments is still too little and the size of the project is still too large.
A draft ordinance that would change the zoning in the area could be ready for the council to review and possibly introduce at one of the council's two August meetings.