Press accounts of development interests’ attempts to increase the allowable building height in Seaside Heights have been extremely inaccurate. Here’s what actually happened.
August 9, 2002
Contact: Willie deCamp 732-830-3600 732-892-3465
ON ZONING ORDINANCE
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On Tuesday, August 6, the Borough Council of Seaside Heights assured a public meeting with an audience of over 150 mostly local citizens that at their regular Council meeting on the following night they would take no action to increase the allowable height of buildings in the north end of Seaside Heights.
The following night, Wednesday, August 7, with few present to observe, the Council voted to increase the allowable height of buildings in the north end.
“This is the most blatantly dishonest thing I have ever seen a governing body in Ocean County do,” said Willie deCamp, President of Save Barnegat Bay.
Citing environmental concerns, the group, along with many Seaside Heights residents, has asked that the Borough refrain from increasing the allowable height of buildings anywhere in town.
At Tuesday’s meeting, which was held to review the subject of building height in the north end, a majority of Council members publicly indicated that they opposed going forward with any proposal to increase building height at this time.
A developer, Park Place on the Boardwalk LLC, has requested that the Borough rezone the north end to allow them to build a large – and tall – condominium complex on the boardwalk. The proposed condominium complex has been described at various times as being twelve, seven, six, five, and four stories tall.
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting Borough Attorney George Gilmore, speaking on behalf of the Council, informed all present that the Borough would take no action on the question of building height in the north end until the subject had been given substantial further consideration. Gilmore specifically stated that no action would be taken on the following night.
But on the following night, the Council, with Gilmore present in his capacity as Borough Attorney, passed an ordinance raising the allowable height of buildings along the entire boardwalk – including the north end – to fifty feet from the curb and forty feet from the boardwalk.
Save Barnegat Bay and other citizens became aware of this action only because a lone objector attended the Wednesday meeting to keep an eye on the Council.
The ordinance has been signed by Mayor P. Kenneth Hershey, who had recused himself from participating in Tuesday’s public meeting due to a conflict of interest.
“Everyone involved on the Borough’s side is now pleading that they were ignorant of the content of the ordinance passed on Wednesday,” said deCamp. “But since height was the very heart of the matter, I doubt they will find anyone gullible enough to believe them.”
Read more about the underlying issue of building height in Seaside Heights.