Residents Object to Morrison’s Hotel/Restaurant Plan

Nov 07, 2018

A group of homeowners on Dock Road in Beach Haven are objecting to an amendment to the Maritime District Redevelopment Plan ordinance that would allow a hotel on the former site of Morrison’s Restaurant. The area has been vacant since a fire destroyed the Beach Haven eatery in 2005.

Last month, developer Christopher Vernon appeared at a borough council agenda meeting in which he presented basic concepts of a plan to erect a restaurant and 102-room hotel. Vernon is also the developer and owner of the Bonnet Island Estate, the Mallard Island Yacht Club, the Mainland/Holiday Inn complex and Hotel LBI, currently under construction in Ship Bottom at the former site of the Stateroom and, before that, the Quarter Deck Inn.

Vernon said the design of the hotel/restaurant has not been decided, although he said the complex would not exceed the zoning ordinance height limit of 35 feet. He offered no timetable for when he would bring the project to the land use board, or any plans on when he hoped to begin construction and open.

In a letter to Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis and the four individual council members, an attorney from the firm representing the homeowners said the amended ordinance “lacks any specificity as to the nature of a development of a hotel on the property in question which we submit is necessary in order to protect the surrounding residential uses.”  

“Additionally, there are no standards as to how the hotel building will be constructed,” wrote attorney Keith A. Davis. “While certain representations have been made about sight lines, open airways and a break-up in the façade so the building would not appear to be a ‘wall,’ there is nothing in a redevelopment plan ordinance amendment before you that requires the hotel developer to build the project according to such standards.

“As of right now, all the representations concerning the hotel development are quite simply just talk. In order 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 (Vernon) to draft a series of conditions that allows the redeveloper to construct a hotel in a manner that is corporately responsible.”

A public hearing on the ordinance had been scheduled for the agenda meeting on Thursday, Nov. 8, 1 p.m. However, Borough Manager Sherry Mason said the land use board has been reviewing it and a new ordinance would be reintroduced at that time. The public hearing would be scheduled at the next agenda meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 1 p.m. 

“The area doesn’t seem big enough to accommodate a hotel and restaurant,” said Ken Goldmann, one of the homeowners represented by the Nehmad Perillo and Davis law firm in Egg Harbor Township. “We fear it is going to take away our views of the bay and have an adverse effect on the character of the community. I haven’t seen any traffic studies done yet and the cars generated by a 102-room hotel could really create problems.”

— Eric Englund






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