Hotel Concerns

Nov 07, 2018

Dear Mayor Davis & Council:

Our firm represents Ken Goldmann, Judie Goodlife, Bill Moreno, Sharon Marie Davis, Dennis J. and Christine Dennis in opposition to the Maritime District Redevelopment Plan amendment in its current form. All are owners on Dock Road and concerned about the future of their residential neighborhood surrounding the above redevelopment site.

Please understand that our clients recognize the valuable tool that redevelopment can bring to rejuvenating certain neighborhoods in Beach Haven. The redevelopment plan amendment that is currently before council, however, lacks any specificity as to the nature of the development of a hotel on the property in question, which we submit is necessary to protect the surrounding residential uses.

As we expressed to the planning board, the redevelopment plan amendment adds hotels as a permitted use. The requirement is that the hotel be a minimum of 100 rooms and a maximum of 102 rooms, not to exceed 35 feet. Restaurant uses are also added with a provision to allow a height of 48 feet for the elevator and stair towers. There are no additional conditions or controls in the ordinance that we believe are necessary to protect the peaceful use and enjoyment of our clients’ properties.

The Determination of Need Report Maritime District, dated February, 2018 (the version I received from the borough is marked draft, but I assume it was ultimately adopted), emphasizes the need to protect maritime uses within the Maritime District. While everyone is saying that it is the intent of the hotel developer, Chris Vernon, to protect the existing marina uses, there is nothing in the redevelopment plan ordinance pending before you that requires the hotel developer to continue to maintain a public boat marina on the property in question.

Additionally, there are no standards as to how the hotel building will be constructed. While certain representations were made at the last planning board meeting about sight lines, open airways and a break-up in the facade so the building would not appear to be a “wall,” there is nothing in the redevelopment plan ordinance amendment before you that requires the hotel developer to build the project according to such standards.

As of right now, all of the representations concerning the hotel development are quite simply just talk. To protect the borough and ensure that any hotel development occurring onsite be responsible to the community and not adversely impact our clients, we respectfully suggest that we should meet with your staff and the proposed redeveloper to draft a series of conditions that allows the redeveloper to construct a hotel in a manner that is corporately responsible.

While the redeveloper has a professional appearance with a track record of hotel development on the Island, there is nothing preventing him from assigning his contractual rights or selling the hotel project to another developer. It seems as if this process is being rushed through because of Mr. Vernon’s involvement. But the redevelopment plan and the amendment you are considering adopting on Nov. 8 are land use controls. They are not personal to Mr. Vernon and they impact the land until rescinded by council. Anyone can file a land use application to build a hotel in the future. It does not have to be Mr. Vernon.

The safeguard against this is for the borough to approach redevelopment the right way at the beginning. The redevelopment plan ordinance can and should contain specific standards, conditions and controls establishing the nature of the hotel use together with any other uses being discussed (restaurant, marina, etc.). This process will benefit not only our clients, but the redeveloper and borough by bringing clarity to the scale and size of this project before an application is made to the planning board for site plan approval.

On behalf of our clients, we stand ready, willing and able to work with the borough and the redeveloper to achieve such a balance that we submit is necessary.

Until that point, we request that this ordinance be tabled. Our clients continue to object to the redevelopment plan ordinance in its current form and intend to actively object to the council’s adoption of it on Nov. 8.

Keith A. Davis

Nehmad, Perillo & Davis

Egg Harbor Township, N.J.


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