By Mike Kruzman /

A proposed apartment development in Howell Township came back from the dead only to become postponed to a future date.

Last month, developer Steve Gronow withdrew a request for the rezoning of a 20-acre parcel he owns on Burkart Road in the township, adjacent to the antique mall. The area is currently zoned heavy commercial and will become part of the township’s industrial flex zone. Gronow, who operates Chestnut Development, had asked it to be zoned multi-family residential so that he may build a new 90-unit apartment development. He already has two in the township which are successful and have waiting lists. Gronow was back before the township planning commission Tuesday night, however, saying he was reconsidering his withdrawal. He put together a presentation for commissioners, building his case for why the rezoning should be allowed, and asked for a decision to be made. Gronow has owned the property for 12 years, trying to sell it, but says he hasn’t had a bite. His presentation showed studies that suggest there is an overabundance of vacant commercial and industrial property in the area, and a lack of multi-family housing. He argued that the nearby outlet center, hotels, restaurants and other residences were, in fact, made it a compatible use. Planner Paul Montagno maintained that should the township want to consider this rezoning request, it would be best done through the master plan.

Commissioners were largely concerned that it still didn’t fit the future land use map. Commissioner Pete Manwiller said it’s more about preserving the character of the township and what residents want, not so much what the market is dictating. Commissioner Glen Miller felt there wasn’t as much “doom and gloom” in the industrial and commercial markets as suggested. Commissioner Carolyn Henry, however, asked if they can do this and bring people, why wouldn’t they at least consider it? Chairman Andrew Sloan said Gronow’s presentation was compelling enough to consider it as part of a master plan review, but he couldn’t support the rezoning request at this point.
Faced with a vote going against him, Gronow reconsidered asking commissioners for the vote. They agreed to postpone it to a future date, ending at December 31st, 2021. The vote passed 4-3. Andrew Sloan, Marth Haglund, Wayne Williams, and Caroyln Henry voted in favor. Matthew Counts, Pete Manwiller, and Glen Miller voted against.

The township is up for their 5-year master plan review next year.