Plan Advances to Address Blighted Area

May 4, 2017
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One of the Sea Bright properties included in the “Shrewsbury River Properties” bundle is 42 Church St. Photo courtesy of Nikole J. Ghirardi

By Liz Sheehan  |

SEA BRIGHT – In a unanimous vote at its April 25 meeting, the borough’s Unified Planning Board took the first step in designating 14 properties in the downtown section of the borough as areas in need of redevelopment or possible condemnation.

The next step in the process will be up to the Borough Council. If the council approves the planning board’s decision, these “Shrewsbury River Properties” will be designated as being in a redevelopment area, meaning variances would not be needed to implement a design plan for the area, Councilman Marc Leckstein said.

Thirteen of the properties in the designated section, from Surf Road to River Street, are owned by Jesse A. Howland & Sons Inc. and CJM Associates of Sea Bright LLC, which share a common post office address.

In 2015, the two companies applied to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a waiver from the requirement for a 100-foot setback from the Shrewsbury River, saying it was an undue hardship and would make it impossible to build a 147-apartment complex, according to Caryn Shinske, public information officer for the DEP.

The applicant also wanted to reconstruct and raise an existing bulkhead so it would match the seven-foot bulkheads being built on public lands under a DEP and Army Corps of Engineers flood mitigation project, she said.

“The application had been pending because it lacked required information up to this point,” Shinske said on April 12. But new information was submitted on April 10, she confirmed.

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On Wednesday, Larry Hajna, a DEP spokesman, said the permit application is under review.

Borough Administrator Joseph Verruni said the properties in the possible redevelopment zone included those in the Jesse A. Howland & Sons housing complex proposal. He said the area was not zoned for a housing complex and there had been nothing submitted to the borough concerning the Howland proposal.

No representative of Jesse A. Howland or CJM Associates spoke at the public portion of the planning board meeting.

The companies could not be reached for comment.

At the meeting, Christine A. Nazzaro-Cofone, of Cofone Consulting Group, LLC in Red Bank, described each of the properties included in her firm’s report, prepared for the planning board, and detailed the conditions under state law that made them eligible to be included in the designation for redevelopment.

Included in the requirements: “The generality of buildings are substandard, unsafe, unsanitary, dilapidated, or obsolescent or possess any of such characteristics. Or are so lacking in light, air or space as to be conducive to unwholesome living or working conditions.”

The properties named, located on the riverside of the downtown area are 6, 8 and 10 River St.; 21, 38, 40, 42 and 50 Church St.; 9,15 and 16 South St.; 4 and 10 Front St.; and 31 New St.

All but 8 River St. are owned by the Howland company and CJM Associates.

That property, owned by Icarus Development, Rumson, did not meet any of the criteria for redevelopment, but was included as to avoid creating a “Swiss cheese” effect in the area, Nazzaro-Cofone said.

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Asked about possible plans for the properties if they are designated by the borough council as a redevelopment area, Nazzaro-Cofone said, “this isn’t the forum for that.”

She said there would be other opportunities “to discuss use” of the properties, but “not at this time.”

Mark Teichmann, Surf Road, said he was concerned the board’s approval of the redevelopment zone “was one step closer to eminent domain.”

But board attorney Kerry Higgins said that subject was for a different forum rather than the planning board.


This article was first published in the April 27-May 4, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.

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