HOLMDEL, NJ - The Holmdel community is comprised of approximately 17,000 residents within about 18 square miles. They come from a variety of backgrounds and all call Holmdel their home. One of many reason folks move to Holmdel is proximity to religious institutions. A recent zoning board application heard on November 7th reflected that as it has meaning for dozens of families in the town. Specifically, congregants of St. Mina Coptic Church.
Residents of Holmdel includes dozens of families of Egyptian history that are members of the local St. Mina Coptic Church. The specific term "Coptic" comes from the Greek "Aigyptos" meaning "Egyptian". When the Arabs arrived in Egypt in the seventh century, they called the Egyptians "qibt". The Arabic word "qibt" came to reference both "Egyptians" and also "Christians".
Years ago, the members of the church purchased a property and built a house of worship on Route 34 (in Holmdel). Now, as the congregation has grown, they needed the assistance of the Holmdel Zoning Board. The board is comprised of 7 regular members and two alternates who are volunteer citizens that work together to ensure that Holmdel has compliance with local zoning ordinances and where necessary, reviews applications for variances and such. This was the case for the church during a nearly four hour board meeting recently.
Over the course of several meetings, professional analysis, testimony from the applicants and objectors, they came to an agreement on expanding their parking lot. Residents in the area were concerned about the number of spaces as well as the light from cars leaving the lot. There were concerns also expressed about public safety in the area. Numerous requests were made over time in term of landscaping, reducing the amount of impervious coverage from a drainage standpoint and significantly, the total number of available spaces. The application requested well over 500. Most objectors felt the maximum should be no more than 450. Zoning Board professionals said that the applicant was amenable to the requests and modifications desired for potential consideration. They were represented by John Giunco, esq. for the continued public hearing.
One Zoning Board member commented that, while other houses of worship have not seen growth, St. Mina Coptic Church has flourished - to their credit. The newer challenge, then, was not related to scripture. It was parking. The Zoning Board recognized the issue and after analysis a decision to approve on a conditional basis was made. The fine tuning (total spots and other items) will be done by the professionals of the applicant and town and reported back to the board.
Current Volunteer Board Members:
- Valerie Avrin-Marchiano, Chairperson (four-year term, effective 1/1/15)
- Demetri Orfanitopoulos,Vice Chairman (four-year term, effective 1/1/5)
- Don Hern (four-year term, effective 1/1/18)
- Lou LoPresti (two-year term, effective 1/1/17)
- DJ Luccarelli
- William Nemcik (unexpired term, expires 12/31/20)
- Anthony Pesce (four-year term, effective 1/1/18)
- Chris Briamonte, Alternate 1 (two-year term, effective 1/1/18)
- Keri Todisco, Alternate 2
Zoning Board Professionals
- Attorney: Marty Pfleger, Esq.
- Engineer: Robert Bucco, P.E.
- Planner: Peter Van den Kooy, P.P.
(Courtesy Holmdel Township Website)