Planning Board supports historic district, signage, parking

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Point Pleasant Beach Planning Board members voted unanimously to support several ordinances introduced by the borough council that could affect the future of the borough’s downtown district. 

The board first voted to support the council’s proposed historic overlay district that preserves buildings constructed in the borough’s downtown between 1880 and 1980.

The purpose of the overlay district, according to officials, is to provide incentives to developers to preserve existing buildings in the historic style, features and materials of their origin, in order to maintain the character of the borough as it moves forward in downtown revitalization.

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“The idea behind it was to not be overly burdensome to building owners, yet to incentivize them to do the right thing,” said Mayor Paul Kanitra during Tuesday’s meeting. “The recommendations in the overlay and the restrictions in the overlay are pretty bold and they ask for a lot … but the trade-off is a lot, as well.”

The ordinance gives leeway for projects to gain some relief from parking restrictions, building heights and more, if developers work with the borough following set guidelines. 

“For a first shot, it hits all the marks for me, just trying to attract the type of business and improvements downtown, but finding a way to try and encourage people with the desire and money to invest in downtown,” said Planning Board Chairman Peter Ritchings.

“We’re excited about the establishment of downtown, Arnold Avenue-Bay Avenue historic district, I think that’s certainly something that’s got some great promise for bringing some good things to downtown Point Beach, all the while maintaining the character of the downtown and improving in some ways the appearance of the town and the viability of the town,” Mr. Ritchings told The Ocean Star Wednesday.  

The board hopes the changes drive more business downtown and helps fill vacant spaces.

The board also unanimously supported an ordinance that would require signs on businesses to be made from wood or of an artificial wood-grain texture to set a standard for the borough.

“Haddonfield, Cape May, some other towns have a very similar ordinance to this and the signage is absolutely beautiful,” said Mayor Kanitra. “It adds to the buildings; it adds to the aesthetic.”

He said the ordinance would help create an environment where people want to come to the borough and shop.

Although businesses would not be mandated to change their signs immediately, the mayor said the measure is expected to improve the borough’s overall appearance over time.

The board discussed an ordinance that updates escrow deposits in the borough for new development and also addresses discharge from new residential swimming pools in the borough. 

The change requires an on-site drainage system for any pool or equipment that requires any backwash or discharge. Planning board members said they hope the ordinance would include set standards for these systems. 

The board also supported an ordinance that addresses the size, height and setback of any proposed roof-top or upper-story deck, and another ordinance that updates the borough’s stormwater-management regulations to meet state standards.

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