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.