BELMAR, NJ — After several delays to start hearings on a controversial plan to construct a four-story condominium building on the current Belmar Inn site, work has begun to reopen the 40-room hotel on 12th Avenue.

Closed since the winter due to numerous fire code violations, the Belmar Inn at 112-114 12th Avenue is in the process of making the necessary repairs to bring the building into compliance, according to Belmar Fire Marshal Ryan Dullea.

“Management has had meetings with my office and is getting plans together to comply with all state fire code regulations,” he said.

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Belmar Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled on Wednesday, July 25 to begin hearings on a proposal to replace the Belmar Inn with a four-story building that would house 24 condominium units.

While the next scheduled reinspection is slated for early August, Dullea expects the Belmar Inn to request a “more appropriate” extension and completion date. “Some of these violations require construction permits and architects, so we consider those points with the extension date,” he said.

Major renovations include enclosing and “fire rating” the stairwells on all floors, as well as repairing the fire sprinkler system in the west stairwell and rear fire escape.

During its last inspection, violations found involved emergency and exit signage, fire doors, improperly vented machine equipment, unsafe heating appliances, open electrical issues and use of extension and power cords, restoring fire protection equipment, lack of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in all rooms, improper basement storage, and holes in first-floor floors, and ceilings and walls throughout the building.

Fire and sprinkler system testing and emergency plans were also found to be deficient.

Meanwhile, the Belmar Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled on Wednesday, July 25 to begin hearings on a proposal to replace the Belmar Inn with a four-story building that would house 24 condominium units. Developer Edelman Investment Group had proposed a five-story structure, but shaved off one floor following a flood of opposition from residents who contend the proposed structure is too big and dense for the site, and is out of character with the surrounding neighborhood of smaller homes.

However, the three-story Belmar Inn has been the source of grumbling by 12th Avenue and nearby residents for nearly two decades — many of whom are opposed to the new plan. Commonly described as “an eyesore” and “a public nuisance,” Belmar Inn has a transient clientele that draws frequent visits by the Belmar police.

Proponents of the Edelman plan believe the new building would vastly improve the quality of life for residents in the neighborhood, as well as increase property values and attract condo owners with a vested interest in the borough.

The current plan now calls for a 41½-foot-high building, which is six inches taller than the existing Belmar Inn, according to attorney William Shipers, who is leading the redevelopment effort and is in negotiations with Belmar Inn owner Rainbow Hospitality of Edison to purchase the property— a sale that is contingent on the plan’s approval.

Because of the revisions, Shipers was required by the zoning board on June 28 to renotify the general public and surrounding neighborhood about the revised plans, which would still house 24 one- and two-bedroom apartments on the top three floors, while the bottom floor would remain a surface parking area with 24 spaces.

The developer is also seeking a multitude of variances for not only for height, but for parking, yard setbacks, building coverage, impervious lot coverage and floor/area ratio.

The application was originally scheduled to begin at a May 23 special meeting, but the board lacked a sufficient quorum to proceed, and postponed it until the regular June 28 meeting.

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