Sea Bright Eyes 14 Downtown Properties for Redevelopment

April 16, 2017
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42 Church Street is one of the structures included in Shrewsbury River Properties. Photo courtesy of Nikole J. Ghirardi

By Liz Sheehan |

SEA BRIGHT – The borough Unified Planning Board is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on April 25 to determine if 14 downtown properties should be rezoned, which would lay the groundwork for a future development.

The board is considering rezoning the sites as either areas in need of redevelopment or possibly as a condemnation redevelopment zone, formal designations under state statute that have significance for possible redevelopment of the properties.

Ultimately, it would be up to the Borough Council to formally change the properties’ zoning, based upon the planning board’s recommendation. In the case of a site in need of redevelopment, such a designation is used when a property becomes blighted or abandoned and could pose a public safety hazard. It would also provide a real estate developer greater flexibility in obtaining needed board approvals to move forward with a project and would benefit the municipality by allowing for new construction of a tax ratable on deteriorating sites.

Borough Councilman Marc Leckstein said if the properties are designated as being in a redevelopment area, the borough would work with a developer to draw up a plan for the area.

Such a designation would mean variances are not needed for the plan to move forward, according to Leckstein.

Amending existing zoning to classify the properties as a condemnation redevelopment zone, would allow the borough to evoke eminent domain to acquire the locations.

The 14 properties, referred to as the “Shrewsbury River Properties,” are located on the western, riverfront side of Ocean Avenue/Route 36 of the beachfront community.

All but one of the properties are owned by Jesse A. Howland and Sons, Inc., Kingston, New Jersey, and CJM Associates of Sea Bright, LLC, with both entities sharing a common post office box address.

The properties are: 6 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.

The 14th property, 8 River St., is owned by Icarus Development, LLC, Rumson.

A report drafted on the riverfront properties, prepared by Confone Consulting Group, Red Bank, found the sites subject to under utilization, unsafe conditions, or obsolescence and from vacancies of Super Storm Sandy, or in “some cases proximity to other properties that exhibit circumstances that qualify for inclusion within an Area in Need of Redevelopment.”

According to the report, without the Redevelopment designation, the properties within the study area “are likely to continue deteriorating, thus adversely affecting the neighboring property values and eventually leading to blight conditions within the neighboring lots.”

According to Leckstein, the 4 River St. property, the former borough public school location, and two bordering Ocean Avenue properties, have already been designated by the borough as condemnation redevelopment areas.

In 2015, it was reported that Jesse Howland & Sons and CJM Associates of Sea Bright, LLC had applied to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to obtain a waiver to build a 147-unit multifamily housing from Surf to River streets.

Borough Administrator Joseph Verruni said Wednesday that properties in the area being considered for a redevelopment zone included those proposed by Jesse Howland & Sons for a housing complex. He said the area was not zoned for such a plan, and that nothing had been filed with the borough regarding Jesse Howland & Sons’ proposal.

Caryn Shinske, public information officer for the DEP, said Wednesday that an application for a waiver to construct the housing complex had been submitted on June 5, 2015 by George Conway, Jr. of Jesse A. Howland & Sons Inc. and CJM Associates of Sea Bright.

The application “was pending because it lacked required information up to this point,” she said.

However, on Monday, new information was supplied by the applicant, Shinske said, but it has not been processed. She said the applicant was requesting a waiver from the requirement for a 100-foot setback from the Shrewsbury River, and said the company said it was an undue hardship and would make it impossible to build the apartment complex.

The applicant, Shinske said, also said the complex would have a beneficial environmental effect by improving public access to the river.

In addition to the waiver for the housing complex, the applicant wants to reconstruct and raise an existing river front bulkhead to match the seven-foot bulkheads the borough is constructing on public lands under a DEP and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood mitigation project.

The Howland firm could not be reached for comment.

As stated in the planning board’s notcie of hearing, a condemnation redevelopment investigation and a boundary map have been prepared and are available to the public at Borough Hall, 1167 Ocean Ave.

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