Colts Neck Community Church considering Route 537 site for new building

COLTS NECK – Plans for a 400-seat church, currently before the planning board, have drawn resistance from nearby residents.

The 22,557 square foot church would be operated by Colts Neck Community Church, now at 25 Merchants Way. The address of the proposed new structure is 249 Route 537.

According to architectural drawings, the new church would feature a sanctuary and five Sunday School classrooms. A kitchen and gathering space near the rear of the building would accommodate congregants enjoying coffee and bagels, according to a document titled “Colts Neck Community Church Facilities Use,” dated Dec. 5, 2019.

The document states that there “will be no full commercial kitchen” and, apart from a few hours of lessons per week, the church has no plans to become a school. Five offices would be used by four pastors and a receptionist.

Architectural renderings of the proposed Colts Neck Community Church

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Three neighboring residents of the Camelot and Yearling Path neighborhoods have retained Robert Shea, an attorney with RC Shea and Associates, to represent their interests.

Shea’s questions have contributed to delaying project approval since January 2020.

In letters to the planning board, Shea requested a call to the zoning board to interpret parking rules and requested in-person planning board meetings.

At a planning board meeting in October, Shea requested that a new application be resubmitted and that the applicant follow the new stormwater regulations. He argues that the project would be too close to the nearby Camelot neighborhood.

Floor plans of the proposed Colts Neck Community Church

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The church has agreed to reduce the number of parking spaces from 175 to 167 spaces, according to a letter dated Jan. 7 from T&M Associates. The letter stated that the entire development would be moved 10 feet west of the Camelot neighborhood. The entrance would be moved 200 feet west to the middle of the property.

At the October board meeting, church attorney Salvatore Alfieri said the changes made did not require a new application.

Architectural renderings of the proposed Colts Neck Community Church

AJ Garito, the church’s engineer, agreed to apply for a new flood protection permit from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and said the church’s parking lot light will not not spread to neighboring properties.

The January letter from T&M Associates said the land on which the church is proposed to be built contained houses, barns and garages, which have since been removed.

Colts Neck Community Church did not respond to requests for comment.

The planning board will hear the application on January 11 at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom.

Olivia Liu is a journalist covering transport, Red Bank and West Monmouth County. She can be contacted at [email protected]

Norma P. Rex