NEW IDEA IN FAIR HAVEN: SENIOR HOUSING

fh-colonial-courtThe project would extend from the cul-de-sac at Colonial Court west to Hance Avenue. Below, a suggested floor plan for a “cottage” envisioned on the site. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

senior-housing-fhFair Haven may get its first senior housing community if a local builder can convince borough leaders to change current zoning laws.

Little Silver-based home builder Kevin Hughes, of K.M. Hughes, has been testing the idea of building age-restricted homes on little more than an acre spanning Hance Avenue and Colonial Court, a cul-de-sac off Smith Street.

Hughes wants borough officials to create an overlay zone — which allows for higher densities — in the residential area. And so far, they’ve been receptive.

Hughes, who lives in Fair Haven, informally brought the idea to borough brass a few weeks ago to gauge whether they’d be game to allow that kind of project in town.

So far so good.

The council is in favor, said Mayor Mike Halfacre, and the planning board appears to be tilting that way as well.

“As much as we can tell, it seems like a good idea,” said board chairwoman Joan Jay.

Note the “as much as we can tell” part. Though there are a couple of schematic drawings on file at borough hall, the cottage-style community isn’t much more than a concept.

“There’s a long way to go,” Hughes said. “Things could change an awful lot between now and then.”

According to the drawings, Hughes is proposing about 10 cottages designed for seniors.

Currently the land is unused, said planning board secretary Judith Fuller, except for one vacant home and another that is occupied. Fuller said she isn’t sure what the plan is, if there is one, for that particular home.

Halfacre said the council is favorable to the idea because one of the more common complaints it hears is that there aren’t enough affordable housing options for people older than 55. In fact, Councilman Bob Marchese spoke about the need to be more accommodating to the borough’s retired and empty nesters when he was stumping for votes back in November.

That’s where Hughes says he’s coming from, too.

“It’s pretty nice to stay in one town or close to one town,” he said. “That’s really kind of my standpoint.”

It’s unclear when Hughes will make a formal pitch to the planning board. The topic is still being tossed around at council meetings, and was again on Monday night.

Until then, there’ll be plenty of questions.

“Because it’s in such beginning stages it’s not at a point yet to come before the board and say, I want this many houses, et cetera, et cetera,” Fuller said. “Nothing can really be said for sure until he really knows what he wants.”