The Guttenberg Planning and Zoning Board decided Wednesday night to deny the application by a Fort Lee developer to build an 11-story senior citizen complex on the site of the old Sokol Hall on 70th Street in the township. According to Guttenberg Mayor Robert Sabello, Joseph Alpert, of Alpert and Alpert Developers, was denied the application to build the senior citizen housing facility because one member of the planning board, John Zoeller, voted against the idea. "There are seven members to the board, but two were out sick for the meeting," Sabello said. "We had to get five votes to have it approved. Four voted for it and one was against it. Since we didn't get the necessary five votes, the deal is officially dead. If the two absent members were there, then it probably would have passed." It was learned recently that Alpert had purchased the old Sokol Hall, traditionally the site for many private parties and social activities in the township, as well as the two-family house adjacent to the social hall, for nearly $500,000, with the idea to demolish the two standing buildings and build a new 11-story, 72-unit $4 million facility. "They seemed like a very reliable group," Sabello said of Alpert and Alpert, which has constructed several senior complexes in the past, including one under way in North Bergen. "This was the first time that they got shot down. But that's how it works." The facility, which was slated to be strictly for seniors who need affordable housing, was set to receive funding assistance from both the state Department of Community Affairs, as well as the office of Hudson County. However, to get that funding, the project had to be approved by the town's board by a specific deadline. Since the board will not meet again this month, the project is dead. "From what I understand, that's all gone now," Sabello said. "You can't even revive it later on. They all gave us a commitment to give us that kind of funding. I really don't know what happened." There were some local residents who were concerned about parking, believing that a new senior citizen complex would only compound an already difficult parking situation in the township. "Parking was definitely the big issue," Sabello said. "I thought that everything was taken care of in terms of parking." Sabello was a staunch supporter of the project. Being a senior citizen himself - he's proud to tell everyone that he's 80 years old - plus the fact that he was once the director of public housing for the township, Sabello knows first hand the dilemma that senior citizens face in securing affordable housing. "We have a lot of older people who live in the town," said Sabello, who was sworn into office for his second term on Jan. 1. "I've seen a lot of the younger people come and go, sons and daughters who move away and leave mom and dad with the old homestead, their old townhouses. They would love to get rid of their homes and move into something that is less trouble. I know there were a lot of older people who sat at home (Wednesday night), thinking for certain that this was going to go through." Sabello said that he doesn't know what is going to happen now. "I don't know what the developer plans to do," Sabello said. "I know that there are a lot of people who are disappointed. It's really a shame." Joseph Alpert had not returned phone calls by press time.