Towering Concerns

Apr 19, 2017

To the Editor:

Attention Barnegat Light homeowners:

With the expectation that many of you may not have heard about it, I would like to make you aware that the borough council has, at its April 12 meeting, passed on first reading a proposed ordinance calling for the raising of the height limit for new construction in the borough from the current 30-foot limit to a new limit of 32 feet. 

As I was unable to attend the meeting, I had, in an April 10 letter to the mayor and council, pointed out concerns, which are set forth below. While I understand that the matter had not been on the agenda for the April meeting, after a review of my letter and no one from the public offering any other objections at the meeting, a vote was taken. The only nay was proffered by Councilwoman Dorothy Reynolds, who shares these concerns.

• I don’t see why, unlike places such as Surf City and Ship Bottom where a significant number of Sandy-flooded bayside homes need to be raised to alleviate future flooding risks, Barnegat Light currently has any compelling need for such a height increase.

• While only 2 feet, the proposed height increase represents a not insignificant 6.7 percent increase in the current 30-foot height limit.

• The primary beneficiaries of such an increase will be newcomers building from scratch (assumedly, after teardowns) and not existing homeowners.

• Since all of the existing homes have been limited to a 30-foot height, new homes constructed at a 32-foot height will serve to create blocked views from existing two-story (plus at grade garage/storage area) homes that currently have rooftop decks, which were all built in the context of the previous 30-foot height limitation.

• Existing single-story, Cape Cod-style homes, which are already towered over by their 30-foot-high neighbors, will be even further subjected to shadowing by new 32-foot-high neighbors.

• With the current 30-foot height limit having been in place for quite some time, the general relationship of floor heights for homes in Barnegat Light has been maintained in a reasonably uniform fashion. Adding an additional 2-foot height limit, in many cases individual floors of newer homes will be above corresponding floors of their neighbors, creating the potential for many existing homeowners to feel like they are being looked down on by these new higher neighbors. People might have to close their blinds for newly-needed privacy in the many cases where the window sizing and placement determinations of the existing homes had been made based on the then-existing uniform 30-foot limit.

• If adopted, the increase in allowable building height could conceivably lead to an increase in teardowns throughout the borough as builders/developers chase higher potential sales prices and additional profits, to which they would be justifiably entitled based on the increased cube that these newly-constructed homes could provide. This would be to the potential detriment of existing homeowners.

I would trust that many of my fellow homeowners are similarly concerned now that they have been made aware of the status of this issue. With the second reading and potential final adoption of this proposed ordinance scheduled for the May 10 council meeting, it is imperative that those of you who are also concerned please (1) write to the mayor and council (P.O. Box 576, Barnegat Light, N.J. 08006 or barnegatlight.org), stating not to increase the building height, and (2) plan to attend the May 10 council meeting so we may make our collective voices heard.

Bob Crimmins

Barnegat Light

Comments (1)
Posted by: Jean D Ragone | Apr 20, 2017 10:54

I completely sympathize with existing homeowners in BL. Harvey Cedars raised its maximum building height for oceanfront homeowners in response to complaints that the value of oceanfront homes were compromised as a result of the new dunes.  As a result of rebuilds and new construction many first, second and third one-offs have now lost their prized ocean views since the new height only applies to oceanfront homes. My neighbor to the south who for decades enjoyed limited oceanviews now lives in the shadow of a brand new oceanfront that towers over all of us and is built with smaller setbacks than the previous home was  allowed to occupy so that even peek-a-boo view between the oceanfronts have been lost. A neighborhood that once felt open and spacious now feels congested and, somewhat, darker.

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