Lack of Planning Board Quorum for Sea Oaks Townhouses

Mar 21, 2012

LEH Planning Board Fails to Hear Sea Oaks Application

The Little Egg Harbor Township Planning Board failed to reach a quorum Thursday night and again turned away applicant Joseph Mezzina and about 40 residents of the Sea Oaks senior development who had come to hear his application to build townhouses on the Sea Oaks golf course.

The residents were audibly discouraged when Planning Board Attorney Joseph Coronato said two planning board members were disqualified from hearing the application and others were sick. There were just four members out of nine present.

After the meeting, Coronato amended his statement and said actually three members had been disqualified: Jeremy Price because he leases a home from Mezzina Realty, John DeLucia because he purchased a home built by Mezzina, and Chairman Ken Laney Jr. because he installs air conditioning units and had a business relationship with Mezzina in the past. Laney had initially come to the planning board meeting that evening and complained of being ill but had mentioned the potential conflict of interest, and Coronato disqualified him.

Planning board member Wayne Schwartz was unable to attend the meeting for personal reasons, said Coronato, and Ken Miller was sick.

This was the second time the application was rebuffed, the first time in January when Mezzina was turned away over a question of how many townhouses had been approved in the initial Sea Oaks senior development.

Mezzina already has approval to build 16 townhouses behind the Inn at Sea Oaks, his current application is to build an additional 29 townhouses across from the Inn at Sea Oaks, behind Golf View Drive, taking a portion of the golf course’s 10th hole.

The original site plan for Sea Oaks called for approximately 32 town homes as well as the 325 homes in the adult community The problem in the application is the word “approximately”; as it stands, Mezzina’s request would total 45.

Some residents of Sea Oaks are concerned with their quality of life while the town homes are being constructed. Some also complained that they paid a premium to have their homes back up to the golf course and were told when they purchased their homes that the golf course would remain as it is. But they bought their homes from K. Hovnanian, who developed the residential piece of the project, not Mezzina, who owns the golf course.

Sea Oaks resident Ken Poppele said he had come to the meeting to protest the townhouses. “If they did build 45 or 50 townhouses, then it will compete with the residents when they try to sell their houses. They also have to answer questions about fire protection and snow removal.”

Mezzina’s planner, John Helbig of Adams, Regan and Hagen Associates, was also disappointed with the lack of a quorum. “We were all ready to rock and roll. It’s inconvenient to come out for nothing.”

Coronato said the lack of a quorum is unusual ,and he would be working with Mayor John Kehm to recruit two members of the zoning board to be on standby in case of a similar situation next time.

The application was rescheduled for Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m.

Pat Johnson

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