Alcatel-Lucent Redevelopment Plan OK'd By Holmdel Township Committee

Four out of five elected township officials approve the formal "vision statement" for the huge property, formerly known as Bell Labs.

The construction of up to 40 single family homes and 185 age-restricted townhouses would be allowed at the Alcatel-Lucent property on Crawfords Corner Road and Roberts Road, under the township's new 2012 Alcatel-Lucent Redevelopment Plan okayed by the majority of the Township Committee Thursday.

Township officials were careful to point out the plan is a broad "vision statement" and not a formal site plan. The present contract buyer, Sterling Oversight LLC, has not presented its concept plan to Holmdel officials yet.

Mayor Patrick Impreveduto said that after research, he had come to the realization that the 473-acre property was simply not marketable to developers without the ability to build houses on the highly desirable Holmdel land. "The housing component is paramount," he said.

While the state DEP has not yet made a decision about whether sewers would be allowed outside the building's footprint, the mayor said that after speaking to engineering firms he had become convinced that sewers on the property would be preferable than potentially leaking septic systems on the environmentally-sensitive property. "That, coupled with what I had to weigh out that was best for the citizens of Holmdel -- it was a hard decision to make, and I did change my decision," he said.

Resident Carole Balmer, a former deputy mayor of Holmdel, told the mayor she respectfully disagreed with that finding. "I've been researching this stuff for thirty years," she said. "You're doing cursory research."

The Redevelopment Plan is a statement by township officials of what they would like see developed at the famous Bell Labs property, vacated in 2006. The township would like to help bring the property back into usefulness, and reap the benefits of higher tax ratables.

The plan calls for the preservation and adaptive reuse of the 2-million square foot building (only 1.6 million square feet is usable, according to Beahm) for things like retail, restaurant, a hotel, conference, health and wellness, public facilities such a library, and a skilled nursing facility.

The area outside the building could be developed to include things like a 350,000 square foot "bubble" field house to shelter multiple fields, 18-hole golf course, recreational fields with outdoor lighting. Open space, storm water drainage and 250-foot roadside berms and other environmental features are also objectives, addressed in the plan.

Janet Jackel, the president of Friends of Holmdel Open Space, expressed concern about too much paving on the site.

"This plan is about 'Step Three' out of 'Step Seven', said Township Planner Jennifer Beahm, adding that once a redeveloper was chosen, agreements would have to be drawn up with the town, designs would have to pass muster, and township and state approvals would have to be earned through a public process.

Resident Stewart Bruder said he felt "invigorated" by the prospect of progress on the site. "Keeping forging forward," he told the Committee, to applause from some of the 50 people attending the meeting.

The Redevelopment Plan was approved by the elected members of the Township Committee, 4 to one. In favor were Mayor Patrick Impreveduto, Deputy Mayor Eric Hinds, and Committeemen Greg Buontempo and Joe Ponisi, Sr. -- all members of the Holmdel Republican Party. Impreveduto and Buontempo also sit on the Planning Board, and were part of the group process to review the Redevelopment Plan for consistency with the township master plan on May 3.

Voting against its adoption was Committeeman Larry Fink, a Holmdel Democrat, who said that he had concerns with overall max bulk requirements, traffic, and open space preservation. "With a little bit more feedback from the public we can make this a little bit better," he said. Following the vote, he proposed a motion to amend the plan with suggestions from the community. Nobody seconded it.

"Let's move on," said Committeeman Ponisi.

Follow developments in the Alcatel-Lucent property on Holmdel Patch.

Rick Blaine May 18, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Too much paving? Seriously? What, not enough grass for the deer to eat? Stop preaching from your ivory towers people and move forward now.
Nick J. May 21, 2012 at 02:19 AM
It's time move forward with this development. Thanks to the TC for having the fortitude to adopt the redevelopment plan. As was stated at the meeting, there will be plenty of opportunity once the property is sold to incorporate the puiblic's reasonable input. Larry Fink's desire to save 100 acres of the property to keep it as farming is a joke and does not pass the real world test. That property will never be sold with that caveat....come on FOHOS/CILU people, wake up as the majority of people in this town want to see this property developed. 40 SF family homes is quite reasonable and will not adversely impact the schools (whose enrollment numbers are declining anyway).
William Y May 21, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Pat - waiting until after the property is sold to get public comments flies in the face of logic. The strategy is obviously to slam this home with as little angst to the TC as possible with the overriding goal of preventing the claque of malcontents to contribute to the conversation. Does it make any sense to anyone on either side to have the planning board filled with all of the members of the republican party? Talk about a blank check. And the flip flop on the sewer issues sure sounds fishy. What engineering firms (plural) were spoken to? Was there a report, or was this a gut decision? I'll agree with you in the fact that most residents want this done, and there won't be a solution that will satisfy everyone, but here we go again asking to keep the communication lines open.
Nick J. May 21, 2012 at 01:13 PM
And also knock the dinosaur building down but leave the water tower, if that's what it takes it get this property developed. It has been sitting vacant for far to long and I want my taxes lowered, plain and simple.
William Y May 28, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Isn't Elsie sterling the chair woman of the Miami convention authority? Very nice. http://miami.cbslocal.com/2012/05/19/porn-convention-held-next-to-high-school-prom-angers-parents/
bud July 17, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Alcatel Lucent's stock hit an all time low today of $1.11. See ALU-NYSE. Whatever we plan on doing with the property, we better hurry up before ALU goes bankrupt.
bud July 20, 2012 at 05:14 PM
ALU hit $1.07 on 7/18/12. What protection does Holmdel have vs a bankruptcy filing?


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