BEACH HAVEN - Chris Vernon appeared before the Beach Haven Borough Council on Tuesday, October 15 seeking approval of a Developer's Agreement to proceed forward in his goal to build the Beach Haven Hotel and Marina at the site of Morrison's Marina. The meeting was held at Surflight Theatre and a large crowd attended. 

In his presentation, Vernon said that he needed the approval from the Council to move forward, anticipating another 6-9 months of seeking governmental approvals in that next step.

Many residents spoke and shared their input about this project.  The crowd seemed to be evenly distributed with those against and those supportive of the project. 

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The vote was taken after the public comment portion of the meeting and the Developer's Agreement was approved 3-2 by the council.  

Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis and council members Charles Maschal and Tom Lynch voted in favor. Dan Allen and Jaime Baumiller voted against the project. 

Many in the audience were seeking answers to questions such as impact of storm water runoff, results of traffic studies, electrical grid impact, parking, noise, environmental impact on the bay etc.  Those answers were not answered at this meeting. Those and other issues will be addressed by the various governmental authorities in the long application process that stands in front of the developer.  

Vernon will need to gain approvals from the Beach Haven Land Use Board and the next meeting with that group is months away.  He also will need CAFRA approval and that can take anywhere from 9 months to three years. 

Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis told the audience that the agreement approval allows the borough to have increased control over how the property is developed.  “This is just one part of what is probably going to be long process,” the Mayor said. 

In attempting to develop the Beach Haven Hotel and Marina, Vernon's proposal includes a three-story structure, with a height limit of 44 feet to the top of the hotel roof, with an elevator tower not to exceed a maximum height of 45 feet, 9 inches.

The design will allow the property to maintain the Ship’s Store building on the site, plus add gardens and other amenities. The construction includes a wharf bar and public access for fishing, crabbing and sunset watching. Vernon mentioned that he had met with the neighbors at the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club and has met with members of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association. He has an agreement in place to work with both groups conducting special events and fundraisers.  

Vernon assured those in attendance that he will maintain the 137 existing boat slips. 

Vernon also said that he plans to purchase the property from the Enos family even if he is turned down for this proposal.  This seemed to make some in the audience relieved since the longtime owners of Morrison's seem to be a family loved by the locals. 

Vernon also owns the Mainland Holiday Inn, Bonnet Island Estate, the Mallard Island Yacht Club, and the Causeway Marina in Stafford Township.

The restaurant will have a capacity for 400 diners and the rooftop bar will have a capacity for 200 people. 

Keith Davis, an attorney representing a group of homeowners who filed suit against the project earlier this year, urged the council to hold off on a vote.

Click here to watch Mr. Vernon's proposal on video and includes residents voicing their support and concerns.