HOLMDEL, NJ - Next Tuesday, the governing body will consider an amendment to the land use regulations in northern Holmdel to allow assisted living and congregate living facilities as conditional uses. 

The area in question is one of the few open spaces left in the township, particularly on Route 35. It abuts the Meadowood Estates development. There is a small farm stand on one of the parcels. The zone is called the Route 35 Highway Zone Overlay.

The reason to change the zone, according to the governing body is the increased average age of Holmdel residents. According to the zoning change resolution in the agenda, "the 2020 Master Plan Reexamination Report identifies that the median age of Holmdel residents has increased considerably between 2010 and 2018, a trend that is consistent with the general “graying” of America as the Baby Boom generation continues to age."

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This may come as a surprise in a town that attracts young families with its top flight school district. Holmdel schools currently serves about 3000 students from K through 12 in four schools. The most recent census states that there are more residents under 18 years old (22.6%) than over 65 (22%). The new 2020 census is about to be completed which will provide updated information. The census is completed every ten years.

The age group the governing body appears to be targeting is mid-eighties. The Assisted Living Federation of America reports that the average age of an assisted living resident is 86.9 years (female average age 87.3; male average age 85.7). Female residents (73.6%) outnumber male residents by almost 3 to 1. 

The age cohort data utilized by the governing body to justify the zone change are in the Holmdel Master Plan Reexamination report. A draft of the report is on the township's website. The change in population for folks over 85 in Holmdel is 9%. This contrasts with a variety of estimates in other areas. As examples, there was a 19.3% increase in the 25-34 age group, a 31.6% increase in the 55-59 age group, a 27.6% decrease in 35-44 age group and a hefty 47.6% increase in the 65-74 year old age group.

The new use that would be allowed, if passed, is 'Assisted Living.' For Holmdel Township, the governing body defines it as "a facility which is licensed by the Department of Health to provide apartment-style housing and congregate dining and to assure that assisted living services are available when needed, for four or more persons unrelated to the proprietor. Apartment units offer, at a minimum, one unfurnished room, a private bathroom, a kitchenette, and a lockable door on the unit entrance. Assisted living residences may include dementia/memory care facilities designed to meet the specific needs of persons with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia."

The first reading is set for Tuesday. If approved, a date for a public hearing and final approval would be announced.