BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Developer LCB Senior Living of Massachusetts abruptly dropped its request for the Bernards Township Committee before Tuesday's meeting to change the zoning on a 9.66-acre commercial property off Mount Airy Road to allow residential development. LCB Senior Living had proposed construction of a 94-unit assisted living facility for elderly residents on the property.

The Township Committee had the matter on the agenda for discussion at Tuesday night's meeting. However, Mayor John Carpenter said that LCB Senior Living had called the township's attorney earlier and withdrawn the request for the zoning change.

Carpenter said he didn't believe the developer gave a specific reason for withdrawing the request for the zoning change. "They probably didn't sense enough support for it."

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However, as he had said previously, Carpenter said the developer still is free to file an application with the township zoning board seeking approval of the construction plan along with a request for the board to grant a variance from the existing zoning.

The property is off Old Meeker Road, approximately across from the Visiting Nurse Association of the Somerset Hills on Mount Airy Road.

The plan had been presented as a general concept at a Township Committee meeting in May. At that time, Township Committee members said they would seek more information on the proposal before deciding whether to throw support behind the plan.

LCB Senior Living said in correspondence at that time that it was under contract to buy the property with the intent to build another senior living center similar to those it has constructed in multiple states. 

Further consideration of the plan to build 94 residential units--including 67 units of assisted living housing and 27 units for residents who need memory care supervision--had been postponed on July 10 after two of five Township Committee members were absent, one on short notice.

The proposal, as outlined on the township website in May, called for 10 percent of the housing units to be set aside for lower-income residents, which would help satisfy the township's state-ordered affordable housing obligation.

Bernards Township Administrator Pat Monaco confirmed in an email on Wednesday, July 11, that LCB Senior Living has proposed setting aside 10 percent of the living units as affordable housing. He added, "I believe that component is negotiable to some extent."