VENTNOR – The Planning Board has agreed to ask the Board of Commissioners to consider creating a new zoning district for properties in the R-1 Zone that front the boardwalk.

The board on Monday, Sept. 24 continued its discussion on the commission’s previous proposal to rezone three boardwalk lots in the R-1 zone, changing them from 80-foot lots to 50-foot lots.

Commissioner Lance Landgraf, a professional planner and the Board of Commissioners representative on the Planning Board, previously said boardwalk lots between Dorset and Derby avenues, which have been sitting idle for 13 years, are not in conformance with the rest of the properties in the R-1 zoning district and should be changed to spur development. He said they were “spot zoned” in 2003 during a subdivision application to be larger than the rest and should be reconfigured to comply with other lots in the area.

The Board of Commissioners adopted Ordinance 2018-023 on May 24 but pulled language about rezoning the lots. Instead it asked the Planning Board to review the proposed change and solicit input from the public.

During the July 30 Planning Board meeting, many members of the historic St. Leonard’s Tract, which includes large homes on 50- by 125-foot lots, spoke against making any changes to existing zoning that calls for 10,000-square-foot lots with a minimum lot size of 80 by 125 feet.

City Planner Roger McLarnon on Monday presented the board with an analysis of existing single-family homes and lots along the boardwalk, which includes 19 properties of varying lots widths, only three of which are 50 feet wide.

“There is no prevailing lot width on the boardwalk,” McLarnon said.

He said the board should consider keeping the zoning the way it is now or create a new zone – R-1B – for properties along the boardwalk, which would eliminate the spot zoning issue. Either way, the lot size requirements should not change, he recommended.

“From a planning perspective, it’s the way to go,” he said.

Creating a new zone would “recognize the uniqueness of properties along the boardwalk,” Landgraf said.

The board agreed to ask the Board of Commissioners to review their recommendation to create the R-1B district.

Landgraf said the commission would consider the expense of creating the new district, which would include the cost of extensive public notification and redoing the city’s zoning maps.

“It’s a cleaner way to do it. But it could cost thousands,” he said.

Architect Arthur W. Ponzio, who was in favor of the reduced lot size, said If the board decides to create the new zone it would completely eliminate the ability to subdivide existing properties in the zone.

Resident Norman Klinger said the board should not “start fixing things here and there” and instead should rely on the historical perspective of zoning that is provided in the city’s Master Plan and St. Leonard’s Tract homeowner’s association documentation, which pre-dates the Master Plan.

Several St. Leonard’s Tract residents applauded the board’s decision to eliminate the rezoning proposal.

“Thank you for listening to the public and our concerns. This is exactly what we need to preserve the St. Leonard’s Tract,” resident John Iron said.

Categories: Ventnor

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.