Seaside Heights Building Height Issue

On August 6 a large crowd helped convince the Seaside Heights Council not to introduce an ordinance that would have increased the allowed building height in the northern part of town. The public will have to be vigilant in case the developer persists.


By Jennifer O’Reilly and Willie deCamp

Contact: Jennifer O’Reilly 732-830-3600

August 1, 2002

Save Barnegat Bay has been made aware of a special meeting that Seaside Heights Borough is holding to take public comment on a zoning change that would allow one hundred fifty condominiums seven stories high along the boardwalk at Heiring Avenue.

Save Barnegat Bay urges that the Council pass no ordinance that would increase either the height or the density of development in our already over-crowded area.

Although this is a zoning decision to be made by a single Borough, its adverse impact would be regional. This would be the tallest residential or office building in Ocean County and is incompatible with barrier island and bay ecology, as well as with the character of our neighborhoods.

We regard this zoning change as categorically undesirable for our area:

The polluting runoff generated by this development and its additional automobiles and other human activities will end up in the Atlantic Ocean or in Barnegat Bay, which cannot survive such insults over the long run.

The creation of a seven-story residence on the barrier island – or anywhere in the Barnegat Bay watershed – would be an enormous aesthetic detriment.

This high density development will generate significant additional traffic to Routes 35 & 37, which are already unacceptably crowded.

A damaging precedent for other Barnegat Bay area towns to follow will have been set.

Why should a few persons be allowed to get rich by diminishing the quality of life of the many?

For decades Ocean County has been among the fastest growing counties in the Garden State, and it shows. The space to grow outward has largely disappeared and, with this project, so begins the attempt to grow upward. If this pattern of sprawl continues and such vertical development is permitted, what does this mean for the future of our communities and our estuary?

We urge all permanent and seasonal residents of Seaside Heights and surrounding communities who share our concern to attend the special meeting on Tuesday, August 6th at 7PM at the municipal building, at which the builder will present his plan. On the following night, Wednesday, August 7, the Council will meet in Caucus at 6:30, and later in regular session, to vote on this proposed ordinance.

It is disturbing that Seaside Heights Borough has a regular council meeting scheduled for the night following the information session, during which they are expected to vote on the proposed zoning ordinance. Scheduling a reading on this zoning change less than twenty four hours after the public information session raises the question of whether this is true public input – or is the fix is in?

It is not too late to stop the rezoning of this area and prevent the barrier island from going high-rise, but the public will have to turn out to make certain it does not happen.

Jennifer O’Reilly and Willie deCamp are Associate Executive Director and President respectively of Save Barnegat Bay.

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