BEACH HAVEN, NJ — The Beach Haven Hotel and Marina proposal was before the Beach Haven Land Use Board on Monday night. The meeting was held at the Surflight Theater due to the approximately 275 interested spectators in attendance.
Christopher Vernon has submitted plans to build a 102 room hotel at the site of the Morrison's Marina. The plan is continue operating the marina with the current 137 boat slips. The marina would be accessible to the public and the area would include a public area for walking with benches.
Concern was expressed by questions from the Land Use Board citing concern that the proposed marina would worsen traffic and parking in the busy area of Beach Haven. Many residents were at the meeting hoping to be heard but the meeting ended at 9:25 p.m. and this first meeting of the application did not provide time for public input. Testimony from Vernon and his professionals will continue March 2 at the Long Beach Island Museum at 129 Engleside Avenue at 6 p.m.
Keith Davis, an attorney representing a group of area residents opposing the plan, often objected early in the meeting to some proceedings. The Land Use Board chairwoman Bonnie Lenhard stopped him explaining that it is not appropriate for anyone other than Vernon's team to be addressing the Board. It was explained to Davis that he will have opportunity to comment when the proceedings reach the specified time for public comment.
This project has generated controversy because many in town seem to oppose the development while others are in favor.
The meeting began with an overview by Attorney Arnold C. Lakind, who represents Vernon.
The next phase of the testimony was provided by engineer Gary Vecchio who testified that the plan proposes 246 parking spaces, while emphasizing that only 186 are required by municipal ordinance. The parking plan also includes additional spaces for the Marlin and Tuna Club. Vecchio provided a comprehensive overview of the site layout which lasted about one hour. At the conclusion of his overview, the Board members asked a number of questions about the site plan.
Vecchio emphasized that the New Jersey Department of Environment Protection Division of Land Use Regulation oversees with stringent regulations developments in coastal regions. The CAFRA application by Vernon's team may take one to three years to receive approval. The applicant also needs approval from the Beach Haven Land Use Board.
Beach Haven Marina's architect Craig Brearley testified for approximately an hour presenting the architectural aspects of the construction. The Land Use Board members asked questions of Brearley about specifics in the architecture.
The last professional to testify from Vernon's team was Eileen Dolan, a traffic study expert. Dolan's team completed traffic impact studies on a number of dates in the spring, summer and fall of 2019. A large print report was presented to the members. There was much discussion and a number of concerns addressed by the board members. Traffic and parking appear to be the most significant concerns of the Board and residents.
After three hours of testimony from Vernon's team, the Land Use Board agreed to continue on the application at it's next hearing March 2. The 6 p.m. meeting will be held in the Long Beach Island Museum, 129 Engleside Avenue. Chris Vernon and his team will again appear before the board to present their testimony. It is not clear how many meetings will be needed to complete the application before the Land Use Board renders a decision.
The public will get opportunity to address the board when testimony is complete.
TAPinto Stafford-LBI will broadcast the next meeting live on March 2.
Click the video below to watch the entire meeting.