M’TOWN ESTATE PLAN IRKS NEIGHBORS

hillendale-farm-2Arthur and Leslie Parent’s plan to subdivide a portion of the former Hillandale Farm has some neighbors alarmed. Below, a detail of the proposed plan. (Click to enlarge)

hillendale-farm-11

On the agenda for tonight’s zoning board meeting in Middletown: a plan to subdivide a 5.1-acre property in the upscale Chapel Hill area that has neighbors concerned about a change in character to the the cloistered area of large estates.

The applicants are Arthur and Leslie Parent, who bought the 5.1-acre property and its 12,000-square-foot house for $1.3 million last December, just days before they sold their Red Bank residence to cable funnyman Jon Stewart for $3 million, according to Monmouth County tax records.

The Parents want to cut the parcel into two unequal-sized lots, and have no immediate plans to build on the proposed new lot, according to documents on file.

But that hasn’t stilled concern among neighbors, who complain a township OK would leave an enormous house on one lot, set a precedent for the construction of another, and result in the loss of buffering trees between giant estates.

“It really would be a very significant change of character for the area,,” says John Moody, whose Independence Road property abuts the Parent’s.



A Google Map shows the location of the Parent property.

The property and those around it were themselves once part of the Hillandale Farm, a spread owned by Depression-era Wall Street banker J. Wright Brown. A gravel driveway lined by majestic rows of sycamores serves at least two of the properties.

Foremost among the neighbors’ objections is a whittling-away of lot sizes. The Parents need a variance, because even though they propose to cut the existing house down to 10,584 square feet, the sprawling structure along Chapel Hill Road still would be too big for the proposed lot size.

According to documents on file, the house would cover 15.8 percent of the lot, where 10 percent coverage is permitted. By another measure, it would result in a floor-area ratio of 9.3 percent, where a maximum 7 percent is allowed.

Township planner Jason Greenspan, in a report, suggests the board limit the floor-area-ratio on the proposed vacant lot to 4.6 percent, which when combined with that for the portion with the existing home would result in an acceptable 7-percent overall. That would mean the Parents could build a house of up to 5,100 square feet on the second lot.

But Moody said he and others would see that as the beginning of the end for the special character of the area.

“Instead of a beautiful estate, it would be just another McMansion,” he said.

At least two of the neighbors are said to have hired attorneys to attend tonight’s hearing.

Leslie Parent told redbankgreen that she and her husband expect to learn more about the objections Monday night, but so far, doesn’t see what the issue is.

“Our next door neighbor’s property was sort of identical in size, and that was subdivided, and I don’t think that changed the nature of the area,” she said. The plan, she said, “is what it is.”

The meeting is at 7p at township hall. Here’s the agenda: mtownzba-121310

The Parents  generated controversy over plans to demolish the 300-year-old Tredwell House in Rumson, which they acquired in 2004. The historic house burned down in June, 2006, before the Parents could make modifications that borough officials allowed under a compromise. They still own the 6.2-acre parcel on Ridge Road, records indicate.