EATONTOWN – Howard Commons has been a tough Fort Monmouth property to redevelop for a myriad of reasons, but Lennar Corp. says it has figured out what’s contributing to ground floods there that stalled previous developers.
Old sewer pipes.
The pipes, installed by U.S. Army decades ago, are corroded and clogged. They zig-zag at right angles, making for poor water flow, while others bottleneck as connecting pipe diameters don’t match, said Brett Skapinetz, a project engineer from Dynamic Engineering, which was hired by Lennar Corp.
“Two-thirds or more were completely filled with sediment and that’s a big reason why you’re having issues there,” Skapinetz said.
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Howard Commons served as military housing but has sat vacant and rotting since 1999. Federal law did not allow the U.S. Army to level the homes after the fort closed in 2011. Two developers walked away from the property before, and the borough’s hopes now rest in the hands of Lennar Corp, a subsidiary of U.S. Homes.
“I don’t want to sound unpatriotic, but the Army didn’t leave us anything good when they left,” said Eatontown Mayor Anthony Talerico Jr. during the first public Planning Board meeting between the borough and Lennar Corp.
U.S. Homes and Lennar Corp. are in under contract with the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority to buy the 60-acre property, demolish the 475 townhouses there now, and build a new community development of 275 residential units anchored by a grocery store, convenience store and gas station on one end and a new public park on the other. The total investment is just under $70 million.
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Lennar will need approvals from several entities to move forward, including the borough’s planning board, FMERA, Monmouth County and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Of great concern to the borough is storm water management there, and to ensure the project doesn’t worsen conditions across the street at Eatontown Crest apartments, where floods have pained residents. Lennar intends to install new underground pipes, and reduce the impervious coverage there now by three acres.
Of equal concern is the demolition of the buildings, which were built in the 1950s and contain asbestos. Borough engineer Edward Herriman said Lennar will have to follow the state standards for asbestos remediation.
“A lot of times, what happen is there is a preliminary review to identify where the asbestos is. Then it gets selectively handled, It’s all bagged and tagged,” Herriman said,
Lennar Corp. is calling the development Liberty Pointe. The community will feature 32 detached single-family houses and 188 for-sale townhouses. In the community’s northeast corner will be 55 affordable housing rental units varying from one, two and three bedrooms.
At the property’s frontage along Hope Road Lennar plans a grocery store, convenience store and gas station. Lennar is then giving the borough a seven-acre park at the southeast corner of the property where, as of now, a soccer field in planned. A sidewalk will connect the park to the middle school which borders the property there.
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As the development will bring residents back to the neighborhood, Lennar’s traffic engineer Justin Taylor said the company is asking the county to put two seconds back on the traffic light on the Pinebrook Road side of the intersection with Hope Road to help the traffic flow.
The next planning board meeting to discuss the plan is Nov. 6.
When Jersey Shore native Dan Radel is not reporting the news, you can find him in a college classroom where he is a history professor. Reach him @danielradelapp; 732-643-4072;


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