LITTLE SILVER – The Planning Board has issued a February deadline to the developer of the proposed Brickwall Tavern, owner of the borough’s first and only liquor license.
Progress has been stalled since July, when the project developers, Kelly 29, LLC, began pursuing an easement agreement with NJ Transit for the lease of additional parking space in the Little Silver train station lot.
“I think it’s the consensus among the board that if you’re not ready to move in February, at that meeting there would be a motion to dismiss without prejudice,” said board attorney Michael R. Leckstein at the Dec. 6 meeting. “We’ll make the decision at that time, but everybody is on notice that it will probably be dismissed.”
Adismissal would require Kelly 29 to resubmit its application and start fresh onsite plan approval for the proposed location at 51 Oceanport Ave., the former site of Pix Shoes.
The decision to set a deadline was a welcome one for his clients, said attorney Jeffrey B. Gale of Gale & Laughlin of Hazlet, who represents 15 townhouse owners residing in the Townhomes of Little Silver development located off Oceanport and Sycamore avenues. The homeowners have traffic and quality-of-life concerns about the project and have been waiting for a public hearing.
Gayle also called for the development group to produce a long-awaited traffic study, which the board asked Kelly 29 to resubmit because it was initially conducted in the winter, rather than the borough’s busier summer months.
“It’s five months later and I look to the board secretary. Has any such report been filed?” Gayle asked. “The answer is ‘no.’ ”
The developer’s attorney, Jennifer Krimko of Ansell Grimm & Aaron, P.C. in Ocean, said the new traffic counts have been prepared. But the delay is on the part of NJ Transit, as well as a directive previously issued by the board.
“We proposed (the application) be contingent on us being able to make a deal with NJ Transit,” said Krimko. “Your attorney and the board itself made it clear that was not a condition they were willing to grant. The board has indicated that you want to see the completed deal because ultimately that’s going to be the basis of the parking variance.” She added that her clients are waiting to file the updated traffic study because additional work may need to be done once an agreement is reached.
The board considers adequate parking to be a hurdle for this application. The developer is looking to construct an 11,480-square-foot facility with two stories on the 0.63-acre parcel, which is between the Little Silver train station parking lot and the Brave New World Surf and Snow store.
Thirty-six parking spaces were proposed in the site plan. The project calls for seating to accommodate 250 patrons, including two bars on the ground level and a third open-air bar setting on the second story with balcony seating.
Nayda Sierra, a member of the resident opposition group, called the proposed structure “humongous,” and said the expected noise pollution from late night parties is a quality-of-life concern.
Sierra added that traffic safety in her development is also a red flag.
“After they leave the bar, these people are going to be cutting through our community, because you can’t make a left-hand turn out of the parking lot (onto Oceanport Ave.). You can only make a right, which will take them right through our development. These are all things that need to be considered,” Sierra said.
The potential easement agreement with NJ Transit includes a driveway design into the Little Silver train station lot and a lease agreement for patrons to use that lot. The two properties are only separated by a few feet.
According to Krimko, the easement agreement will impact so many intangibles that the board advised her clients it would not vote until the matter with NJ Transit was settled.
“Rather than waste the board’s and (residents’) time to pay professionals to come month after month, what we suggested was to let us make a deal with NJ Transit and when we have one we’ll come back and present it to you,” Krimko said.
Regardless of the explanation, Gayle argued it may no longer be appropriate for the hearing to be indefinitely adjourned, which it has been since August.
“This has become an impossible situation,” Gayle said. “I have made an attempt to retain professionals to present the appropriate testimony that would effectively alert the board to our concerns. Every time I hire one, I give them the date of your next meeting, and at this point some of them don’t even want to pick up the phone anymore because I’ve hired and then not hired them four times now.”
Krimko said, due to the impending holidays, 30 days would not be enough time to complete a deal with NJ Transit.
“We’re doing everything we can to put this together, but unfortunately, as you’ve read in the papers, NJ Transit is having its own issues. And this is not a major one to them.”
This article was first published in the Feb. 28-March. 6, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.
You may also like
LITTLE SILVER – There is a plan afoot to repair ...
LITTLE SILVER – The race for Little Silver’s R...