Surf City Land Use Board Approves Expansion Plans for Wally’s Restaurant

Oct 31, 2018
Source: Facebook/Wally's

Wally’s Restaurant is expanding, and its plans include offering customers an open-air concept dining experience without diners eating outside. Outdoor dining in Surf City is prohibited.

Plans for the expansion include building a second structure on a parcel adjacent to the existing property where the current restaurant has been operating for more than four decades, adding a 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment above, and providing five on-site parking spaces. Forty-four parking spaces are required.

The existing restaurant and the new dining room will be connected through the kitchen, according to testimony at two Surf City Land Use Board meetings. The hearing on the application began in September and concluded earlier this month with approval on the application being granted.

Owner Mike Tomko testified the new building would be open in the offseason and the existing building closed, except for parties or if there is overflow. The restrooms in the proposed second building are larger and more plentiful, he said.

In approving the application, Peter Hartney, board chairman, admitted it was difficult to decide, but “in reality you’re never going to get 44 parking spaces anywhere in the borough.”

Still, Hartney said one part of the borough’s master plan, which is undergoing its 10-year review this year, is to encourage businesses.

“This does that,” Alan Mannherz, board vice chairman, agreed when voting to approve the application. He also noted the plans remove an existing non-conformity on site. “Parking is an issue everywhere in town.”

Wally’s is located in a cutout that runs parallel to Long Beach Boulevard. The area has long been considered in the parking equation of most of the businesses in the area. Although not specifically dedicated to consumers, the parking spaces are often used as such – and not just in Surf City. Ship Bottom has a similar situation along a portion of the Boulevard, and Long Beach Township has two cutout areas used as parking for businesses and beachgoers.  Even with the cutouts, there simply isn’t enough parking on the Island.

Earlier this year, the land use board denied an application by owners of the Surf City Hotel for outdoor dining. Saying the owners didn’t satisfy the requirements for a use variance, the board rejected that request and by extension variance for other items, including parking. The hotel is required to have more than 150 parking spaces on site to accommodate guests, diners, employees and liquor store customers. It has 18.

“Parking is a problem here,” Mayor Francis Hodgson acknowledged this summer, noting the borough’s zoning ordinances are under review, and one of the requirements it will look to ease is parking. Ordinances are approved, amended and repealed by the borough council.

— Gina G. Scala

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