Historic Overlay District approved in Point Beach

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The proposed downtown Historic Overlay District was approved by the borough council Tuesday, a move designed to preserve the vintage character of structures along Arnold and Bay avenues.

The measure will provide incentives to developers who maintain or convert buildings constructed between 1880 and 1980 with the authentic style, features and materials of their era of origin. It would not, however, eliminate non-conforming projects, since historic preservation or makeovers are not mandatory.

“What the whole Historic Overlay District really is, if you want to do more with your building, if you want to do what currently isn’t allowed, the trade-off for that is going to be deed restrictions and historic building and aesthetic incentives,” said Mayor Paul Kanitra during the ordinance’s introduction Jan. 19.

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The ordinance specifically gives relief from parking restrictions, building heights and more if developers work with the borough following set guidelines.

The overlay gives the option for developers to add a third story, or 35 feet off the ground, onto existing buildings, something that has not been allowed in decades, according to Mayor Kanitra and Planning Board Attorney Dennis Galvin.

“The idea is to give incentives, we’re trying to give them an extra story, but we’re giving them an extra story in exchange for them preserving the building and in doing other things that are a benefit to the community,” said Mr. Galvin during Tuesday’s meeting.

Along with the height, the ordinance also lays out a new construction front-yard setback of 10 feet in hopes to provide room for possible outdoor dining in locations. According to officials, the borough is working on changing its full-time outdoor dining rules in a future ordinance.

The overlay district would also seek to restore previously-changed properties in the borough’s downtown. The overlay would give developers the option to rebuild previously-existing facades in the borough to add to the character of Point Beach.

The historic district may jumpstart the future character of the borough, according to officials, especially during the coming years of revitalization, attracting more businesses and visitors, bringing vibrancy to the district.

Councilmen Andy Cortes and Bob Santanello questioned the need for deed restrictions to those developers wishing to participate in the overlay.

“The thought process is that if you have a historical building… in exchange, you have to deed restrict this property, which means you are going to maintain the facade because it’s a historic structure,” said Mr. Galvin. “I am suggesting that we do that so that we would preserve the historic facade of these buildings indefinitely.”

Mr. Galvin said the borough explored forcing owners to register their buildings on historic registries but found that only a deed restriction could keep owners following overlay guidelines for years to come.

If a new owner were to buy a building that was on a historic registry, they could remove it from the registry, while only a court would be able to remove a deed restriction.

Mayor Kanitra said the borough hopes to attract a live performance venue, theater or music, which would spring revitalization of the borough. If the theater were to participate in the overlay, parking waivers could be granted.

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