OCEAN Inc. Moves Forward With Affordable Housing in Tuckerton

May 03, 2017

A 24-unit housing development for veterans and low-to-moderate-income individuals on a site in Tuckerton on Route 9 was approved for OCEAN Inc. on April 20, by the unanimous vote of the Tuckerton Land Use Board.

The site of the former RCA building, across from Paradise Cove, has a bit of a history. In 2008, Community Quest of Northfield received land use board approval for a 24-unit apartment complex to house indigent veterans and broke ground on the “Tucker’s Walk” project in 2010. It then abandoned the project when low-income housing funding became difficult to obtain. Then in April 2016, OCEAN Inc. purchased the land and in May came to the Tuckerton Planning board with a new idea, developing the land for 36 individual “tiny houses” from 260 to 320 square feet. At that time, Executive Director Ted Gooding said the agency had already obtained 10 vouchers from the state to pay for housing 10 veterans.

The LUB decided there were too many variances it would have to grant to allow the tiny-house concept to become reality and denied the application. Gooding said he would be back with a revised plan, but he then retired later that year.

On April 20 of this year, Channell Wilkins, the new president and CEO of OCEAN Inc., appeared before the Tuckerton Planning Board seeking approval for 24 rental units of attached duplex housing that conformed to all borough requirements. The new units would be small but still substantially larger then the 36 tiny houses formerly proposed by OCEAN Inc.

The one-bedroom would be 762 square feet and the two-bedroom would be 960 square feet. The application came under the cluster housing requirements of the borough’s zoning and construction code.

OCEAN Inc. would maintain ownership and stewardship of the land and apartments and would provide laundry facilities and a meeting room in an 1,800-square-foot community center.

Tuckerton’s engineer, Jack Mallon, said the only variances that would be required had to do with washers and dryers being located in a common area instead of in the individual units, and a reduction in the recreation space from the required 10,000 square feet to the proposed 6,800 square feet. During the LUB meeting, these variances were eliminated by adding a walkway and benches around the drainage “pond” and putting washer/dryer units in each apartment.

Members of the public were concerned with how many children might be housed in the units and attending school. Wilkins said if it was possible, all the units would go to veterans first and said there could be a single mother or father who is also a veteran. “I’ve talked to several veterans groups, and I think we will have the 10, and the idea is to maintain those housing vouchers” with rent paid for by the federal government.

“If we could fill the 24 units with veterans, that would be OK. Our intent is to seek veterans,” he added.

The development will also connect a water main loop from Wood Street and Route 9. It has long been the desire of the borough to connect this loop and improve water pressure to the north side of town.

OCEAN Inc. has been in existence for 50 years and runs the successful Head Start programs and provides counseling for victims of Superstorm Sandy, among other social programs.

— Pat Johnson


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