Beach Haven Board OK’s Redevelopment Status for Marine District

By ERIC ENGLUND | Mar 07, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Beach Haven has taken the first step in designating the marine commercial district for redevelopment as the land use board approved a resolution at its Monday meeting. The resolution now goes before the borough council, which is expected to act at its next meeting, on Monday, March 12, at 7 p.m.

Emily Givens, an attorney who specializes in redevelopment law, said once the borough approves the resolution, it would go to the state Department of Community Affairs.

“They would have 30 days to accept or reject it,” said Givens, a member of the Maley Givens firm, which has been serving as a consultant to the borough’s economic development committee.

Givens stressed that the resolution does not propose any specific changes to the district, but agrees that the area is in need of redevelopment.

“This is just one item in your toolbox,” she said. “What you decide to do with plans for the district is something to discuss down the road; that is not your concern right now.”   

In a presentation, professional planner Tiffany Morrissey said the district consists of 21 properties that are mostly commercial. The largest is Morrison’s Marina, owning six of the properties. Morrissey said the designation will be “non-condemnation,” in that the properties cannot be seized by eminent domain.

Morrissey said that in order to qualify for redevelopment status, the district had to meet one or more statuatory conditions or requirements. One of them was “areas with buildings or improvements which, by reason of dilapidation, obsolescence, overcrowding, faulty arrangement or design, lack of ventilation, light and sanitary facilities, excessive land coverage, deleterious land use or obsolete layout, or any combination of these or other factors, are detrimental to the safety, health, morals or welfare of the community.”  

Morrissey said another condition was “a growing lack or total lack of proper utilization of areas caused by condition of the title, diverse ownership of the real properties therein or other similar conditions which impede land assemblage or discourage the undertaking of improvements, resulting in a stagnant and unproductive condition of land potentially useful and valuable for contributing to and serving the public health, safety and welfare.”

In looking at Beach Haven’s history, Morrissey said the borough had continually recognized marine development as a vital part of the local economy. In its 1965 master plan, it notes that development has taken varying forms, from the small boat livery to the large scale marina.

“These facilities provide access to the water either physically or visually for which residents and vacationers alike have come to Beach Haven,” the plan said. 

Morrissey said the importance of marine development carried through to 1979, when the master plan was updated.

“Despite the goals and objectives of the borough to enhance marine development, in the 1991 reexamination report of the master plan, it was noted that the marine commercial area was developing differently than envisioned in 1979. The primary businesses were without marine-related facilities. The concern of diminishing marine development with the loss of boat slips and marine-related facilities continued into the later part of the decade. In 1999, the reexamination report of the master plan specifically amended the marine commercial district to permit restaurants as a permitted land use.”

Morrissey said that over the years, the borough reduced the size of the district to further enhance the residential character of the community.

“The remaining marine commercial areas were focused for development that not only promoted marine uses, but restaurants and access both physically and visually to the water,” she said.

Morrissey said there is also a need to protect the historical land uses.

“Dating back to the 1900s, this area included hotels and dining experiences, which shaped the Island community,” she said. “The lack of investment on some of these properties leaves them prime for a reuse that may not embody the intent and purpose of the marine commercial district.”

Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis said the borough is also addressing the marine district in updating the master plan, which she hopes will be finished soon.

“But having the redevelopment designations will give us better control over what we want and what we don’t want in that area,” she said.

— Eric Englund

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