The Seaside Park Planning Board last night unanimously rejected a development proposal for rental apartment units on the boardwalk.
The newly proposed residential units were a component of a previously approved plan submitted by Funtown Pier Associates, a developer of the stretch of boardwalk that was rebuilt last summer after the massive 2013 fire.
The application yesterday evening sought approval for nine two-bedroom apartments on the second-story of multiple buildings as well as site plan amendments to the previously approved plan, which includes a series of kiosks (“stands”), pavilions, and buildings.
DJ D’Onofrio, project manager for Funtown Pier Associates, testified that the overall development would have a uniform, distinct look, with soft gray tones and attractive lighting along the boardwalk.
“A New England fishing village feel,” he said.
Harvey York, attorney for the applicant, described the apartments units as upscale and seasonal, with occupancy only between May and October at a rate of $2,500 a week.
York said that the application required a special reasons use variance since the borough’s zoning code does not list residential uses as a permitted use in the boardwalk zone district.
The applicant’s professional planner, John Maczuga, testified that the borough’s master plan offers a policy directive to consider alternative uses within the boardwalk area to maintain economic vitality and meet the needs of the seasonal population.
“This rebuilding of this stretch of boardwalk represent a unique opportunity for the borough,” he said.
Maczuga said that the residential use increases the economic vitality of the boardwalk area and the overall plan is a substantial aesthetic improvement over the original boardwalk development.
But some board members raised concerns about the boardwalk location of the residential uses, citing a lack of parking for the tenants, refuse collection issues, and overall inconsistency with the master plan.
“Anywhere in the boardwalk description of this master plan […] does the word residential appear anywhere?” board vice-chair Michael Giuliano asked Maczuga.
“No, not that I recall,” Maczuga replied.
Pat DeGutis of Stockton Avenue in the borough testified that she sat on a community subcommittee that helped draft the master plan.
“At that time, we never, ever, entertained residences on the boardwalk,” she said.
Board member Anthony DiCaro said there were open questions about how the apartments would be regulated, citing how to control how many people would be in the apartments and where they would park.
“The potential for the undesirable is high,” he said.
The board subsequently voted unanimously to deny the application for the second-story residential apartments.
York then proceeded with the amended site plan for some adjustments to the positioning of previously approved buildings on the boardwalk.
D’Onofrio said that while the permanent structures would not be built by this summer, some have floated ideas about temporary structures on the boardwalk.
“I don’t even know if there’s enough time and if it would be monetarily feasible to get them up for the summer and then tear them down next year to build something,” he said, adding that he would come back before the board if it becomes feasible.
Picnic tables with umbrellas near the Sawmill Cafe will return for the upcoming summer, D’Onofrio said.
The board voted unanimously to approve the amended site plan.
An application for the Funtown Pier rebuild was rescheduled for the April meeting