2013-08-22 / Front Page

Plans for beachfront condos can proceed

Staff Writer

LONG BRANCH — The Zoning Board of Adjustment ruled last week that plans to construct 11 condominium units in the city’s Beachfront North zone can proceed despite opposition from a neighboring beach club.

During its Aug. 12 meeting, the board ruled that TDB Associates could move forward with plans to merge two vacant lots fronting on Ocean Avenue and Marine Terrace. While the lots are zoned differently, the merger would permit residential development on both.

The Promenade Beach Club, located adjacent to the parcels, requested a zoning interpretation from the board.

Community planning consultant Peter Steck argued on behalf of the beach club that Lot 7, which is the eastern and larger lot, is not zoned for residential uses.

Under the city’s redevelopment guidelines, different uses are permitted on two lots within the same zone. Cafés, delis, outdoor dining, ethnic dining, pizza parlors, ice cream shops and nightclubs are permitted on the 32,800-square-foot Lot 7, but residential usages are prohibited.

In contrast, residential uses are permitted on the smaller, 4,700-square-foot property referred to as Lot 4.

The location of Lot 7 was one reason for the merger, since it fronts on the section of Ocean Avenue that is closed to vehicular traffic.

City redevelopment attorney Robert Beckelman said Ocean Avenue was closed to traffic after the city’s 1996 redevelopment plan was adopted.

“The redevelopment plan was written before the road was closed,” Beckelman said in an Aug. 14 interview. “When the plan was written, a commercial use was established for the front property [Lot 7] with the assumption that the road was open.

“The main thing that changed was that road closing, which threw everything off.”

Anthony Monzo, the attorney representing TDB, said that if the board ruled the two lots were separate, the front lot would be virtually inaccessible.

He also said that if a commercial use is constructed on the property, it would create parking issues on surrounding streets.

Steck said his interpretation of the city’s zoning ordinances and redevelopment plan for the zone is that different uses are allowed for the two lots in question.

“Lot 4 is designated for infill residential use, and Lot 7 is designated for beachfront recreational purposes,” he said.

Steck argued tha, even though vehicle traffic is prohibited, Ocean Avenue is a public street and no buffer exists between the beach club and the lots because the zoning has not permitted residential use.

“All of a sudden now, the owner wants to come in with a use that should be buffered,” he said. “That is offensive to the owners of the Promenade Beach Club.”

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