BELMAR — A petition opposing a plan to redevelop the Riverview and Waterview banquet halls and Belmar Motor Lodge off Route 35 into two five-story, mixed-use buildings with nearly 250 apartment units has garnered more than 250 signatures.
The petition was started by Gerald Buccafusco on Monday morning with the intention of being presented to the borough council, which heard the redevelopment proposal for The Mediterranean last month.
Mr. Buccafusco said he plans to submit the petition, which is being hosted on the online platform Change.org, to the borough council in May. It is his aim that the borough does not give its backing to a project that exceeds the restrictions of the borough’s zoning rules.
“What I don’t want to see, and what I don’t think a lot of people want to see, is a huge complex that doesn’t comply [and] doesn’t fit in with the atmosphere of the town,” he said. “I think the problem is they [borough officials] talk to these developers knowing full well the plans don’t comply.”
The project exceeds the height and impermeable-surface coverage restrictions, and offers fewer parking spaces than required. In order for it to be approved, the borough council would have to amend parts of its Seaport Redevelop Area, a special overlay zone created more than a decade ago that loosened zoning restrictions in order to promote redevelopment.
In the Seaport Redevelopment area, the maximum building height allowed is 35 feet. The plan proposed has a building height of nearly 58 feet at its highest. Impervious coverage in the area is capped at 85 percent, while the plan proposes 90 percent. The zone requires that residential developments provide two parking spaces per unit, while the plan proposes around 1.6 spaces per unit.
A concept presented to the borough council showed two “C”-shaped buildings containing about 250 residential units, 480 parking spaces and public spaces in an area west of the train tracks. There would also be underground parking, a pool, green space, roof access and a rooftop restaurant located on the top floor. Plans also call for ground floor parking and additional space for a cafe and restaurant.
“I think the bottom line is, the public needs input into these things, and we get little of it,” Mr. Buccafusco said.
Mayor Mark Walsifer said that the presentation on The Mediterranean was placed on the borough council agenda in March after the developers for the project met with borough professionals. When contacted on Tuesday, he said he was not aware of the petition.
“I am very surprised to learn of this petition because no action was taken,” the mayor said. “As you well know, Mr. Buccafusco has come out publicly against all redevelopment in Belmar. Unfortunately for him, property owners have the right to present redevelopment projects to the governing body by following the proper channels.”
“As a responsible governing body, I believe it is our duty to review their presentations and make the decision to move forward with it, determine what changes need to be made or to deny the project,” he added. “When the petition is filed with the borough of Belmar, we will take it into consideration when rendering our decision to the Repetti family concerning their redevelopment project.”
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