Point Beach Planning board adopts 2021 reexamination

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The planning board at its Feb. 9 meeting voted unanimously to recommend and adopt the 2021 Master Plan Reexamination Report, which adjusts the 2015 report, adding in new goals, objectives and visions for the future of the borough. 

The board established a master plan subcommittee in June of 2020 that reviewed the 2015 reexamination report for months, making needed amendments for the future of the borough. Members are Mayor Paul Kanitra, Administrator Christine Riehl, Planning Board Chairman Peter Ritchings, Greg Cox, Jerry Woolley, Board Attorney Dennis Galvin and town planner Debbie Lawlor. 

The 2021 report starts with a new vision for the borough “to provide a family oriented, bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly environment. Greater energy, activity, and vibrancy of local businesses that include complimentary uses and service a year-round community by providing goods, services, and jobs tailored to both seasonal and permanent residents.”

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The overall goals and objectives laid out in the 2021 report focus first on protecting and enhancing the borough’s historic maritime character and districts. The report guides planners to maintain appropriate scales of development, intensity of use and architectural style of the borough. 

New changes promote streetscape designs that encourage pedestrian activity and enhance safety, while encouraging private investment and reinvestment into existing residential and non-residential properties.

The report also features new sustainability and resiliency goals: Automating and increasing the efficiency of borough systems, updating the floodplain-management plan, exploring shared-service agreements and addressing emergency plans.

The report then addresses parking objectives for the borough, including expanding downtown parking, optimizing existing parking and strictly enforcing rules, while promoting pedestrian access in the borough.

The report addresses land-use and guides planners to recognize the importance of protecting established residential and commercial areas of the borough, as well as providing appropriate land-use regulations to preserve the downtown district. 

The master plan also pushes the continued participation in the Sustainable Jersey certification program by using green infrastructure, promoting smart growth in the downtown, incentivizing transit-oriented development, improving access to electric vehicle-charging infrastructure, and adopting green-building strategies for new development. 

Mayor Kanitra said he was pleased with the work done by planning board members. 

“I’m very happy with the input received from the planning board,” he said. “There’s a reason that I appointed people like our town historian, environmental chair and a former councilman to that board. They’re detail-oriented individuals that understand the history of the town and the will of its people. Their amendments reflected that perspective last night.

“As they mentioned, it’s a bold and ambitious plan for Point Pleasant Beach,” said Mr. Kanitra, “but we’re certainly up to the challenge. I think everyone across town knows how hard we’re willing to work and this master plan gives us the blueprints to accomplish everything. Now it’s on me and the council to support it all with appropriate ordinances and actions.”

Mr. Ritchings said he believes many of the changes are soon to come in Point Beach. 

“A lot of them are already works in process with some of the positive changes that the mayor and council are looking to implement throughout town,” said Mr. Ritchings. 

The board will now take recommendations back to their subcommittees and prioritize what should be acted on first. Planners will work with the borough council to implement these ideas into future budget processes, members said. 

The full report is available on the borough’s website at pointpleasantbeach.org.

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