BARNEGAT, NJ – More than 700 signatures have been collected by a Barnegat resident to protest what he calls a new “trailer park” slated for West Bay Avenue. Tony Sloane started the petition, which features a snapshot of a vintage and run-down trailer.

Meanwhile, photographs submitted by the developer depict a dramatic difference.  Chris Vernon, the owner of 1111 West Bay and Nautilus Associates LLC, leads the project. It features 777 manufactured homes, designed for residents over the age of 55. Upon completion, the houses will be available for sale with a starting price of $270K.

Vernon’s work already has a landmark effect in the Southern Ocean County area. His luxurious Hotel LBI sits squarely at the entrance to Long Beach Island. Additionally, in 2018, the Beach Haven Land Use Board approved Vernon’s application for the development of  Morrison’s Marina.

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In Barnegat, Vern received preliminary approval for the redevelopment project in May of 2019. The property is located on the south side of West Bay Avenue between Westport Drive to the west and Nautilus Drive to the east.  Locals may recall the 140-acre parcel as the site abandoned by Shoreline Sand and Gravel.

“The developer plans to put up the best clubhouse in Ocean County,” shared Committeeman Al Bille, who also sits on the Township Planning Board.  

According to the resolution adopted by the planning board last December, the developer has up to fifteen years to complete the project. The application for approval indicated in addition to the clubhouse and pool, plans include other recreational activities such as a walking trail.

Traffic entrances will allow access from both West Bay Avenue and Nautilus Drive. Additionally, the plan will ultimately include accessibility to Cloverdale Farm County Park. The first phase of the project is known as Compass Point Cottages.

The planning board’s resolution also includes a reference to the affordable housing obligation that Vernon has agreed to build within the Sweet Jenny Redevelopment Plan area.  This calls for the construction of 71 units required as part of a court settlement. The units will not be age-restricted.

Township authorities said they would have needed to secure bonds if Vernon did not take on the affordable housing project on Route 9. “This will save taxpayers between $15M-$20M,” estimated Marty Lisella, Township Administrator.

On Tuesday, January 28, 2020, the Township Planning Board meets to further discuss the beginning stages of the project. Tony Sloane hopes that as many people as possible will show up to get a clearer understanding as to what he sees as reality.

“As far as I’m concerned, these homes aren’t even real estate,” says Sloane. “Due to the nature of these structures and the fact that no one will own the land underneath, they will depreciate from Day 1 just like a car.”

According to Sloane, modular homeowners pay lot rent instead of local tax bills. “This will ultimately represent diminishing tax revenue to Barnegat,” Sloane stressed. “As a result of the shortfall and the use of services like public works, the burden will fall on Barnegat taxpayers.”

Meanwhile, Sloane also has issues with plans as they relate to affordable housing within the township.  “Barnegat needs affordable housing, but it needs to be responsibly done so we can have a sustainable tax revenue into the foreseeable future,” Sloane emphasized.