Stafford Planning Board to Consider Application for Causeway Marina

Nov 21, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

More than 30 acres of prime bayfront land in Stafford Township would change dramatically under proposed plans to enhance guest services at Causeway Marina. The plans, which are expected to be heard before the township planning board early next month, account for three separate buildings with 56 guest suites each, a recreation area including a pool, and other amenities.

The board is being asked for preliminary site approval for all phases at the existing site and final site plan approval for the first two phases of the project, according to the amended rider to the application submitted to the planning office earlier this month.

In October, the applicant, listed on the paperwork filed with the township as 2200 East Bay Avenue, LLC, appeared before the board in a caucus meeting to discuss elements of the proposal and to determine whether it was complete and ready to move forward. Discussion was carried until Nov. 21, but that meeting was cancelled. The next scheduled meeting is slated for 7 p.m. on Dec. 5 at town hall.

Under phase one of the project, the existing structure, bathhouse, tank and shed storage buildings are slated to remain intact. The 325 boat slips would also remain, according to the paperwork filed with the planning office. A concession trailer, a tent with seating and a mobile office would all be newly built under phase one. Construction of a fenced-in pool and deck area is also part of the phase one work.

Phase two, according to the revised paperwork filed with the township Nov. 2, calls for the razing and reconstruction of the existing building and the boathouse as well as others.

The biggest changes to the 33-acre site are planned for phase three, including converting the tented seating area built in phase one to a pavilion; relocation of the boat ramp, demolishing and rebuilding of the pool area capped off by the building of the three four-story buildings for guest suites. Proposed plans call for 168 total guest suites, according to the rider amendment to the application.

Building one is expected to be 12,990 square feet, building two is slated for 13,602 square feet, and building three would be the second largest at 13,362 square feet, according to the plans. Entry columns and an 8-foot-by-8-foot attendant booth complete the area, under the plans. An upgraded amenity area, including a space for a zipline, is also part of phase three.

“All square footage is approximate and building footprints only,” according to the Nov. 2 paperwork.

The applicant is seeking a front-yard setback variance for phase two of the project. Township regulations require a 40-foot setback. Currently, the setback is at 15 feet. A 1-foot setback is being proposed.

All of the proposed work is included in the township’s marina commercial district.

The work isn’t out-of-character for other major construction projects currently underway in the Long Beach Island region. Across town, preliminary work along the eastern portion of the Holiday Inn on Route 72 is underway for Mainland Family Adventure Park. Those plans, which include an electric go-cart track, a rope course including ziplining, and a tower for rock climbing and free falling were approved by the planning board in April.

“We’re hoping to start construction soon and open in May 2019,” Megan Jacobs of Mercer Management, which owns and operates the hotel, said recently. The timeline is dependent on when the project receives its go-ahead from outside agencies.

While the project was given the green light locally, it still needs to receive Coastal Area Facilities Review Act approval, according to Stafford Township Administrator James Moran.

On the Island, Mercer Management is building Hotel LBI, a 105-room hotel at the site of the former State Room, which is on target for a spring 2019 completion, Jacobs said. Located between Eighth and Ninth streets in Ship Bottom, the hotel is slated to be the largest commercial structure on LBI. With a height of 45 feet, it will be the tallest building in Ship Bottom, the gateway community to the barrier island.

Earlier this month, developer Chris Vernon of Mercer Management attended a Beach Haven Borough Council meeting to introduce himself to the community where he is looking to build a restaurant and a 102-room hotel on the bayfront site of the former Morrison’s Restaurant. The longtime eatery was destroyed by a fire in 2005, and the site has been vacant ever since.

— Gina G. Scala

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