MARGATE – The city plans to “vacate” the property it leases to Luciano Lamberti in exchange for Lamberti replacing 588 feet of the failing Amherst Avenue bulkhead and providing public parking at his Monroe Avenue lot.

After months of negotiations, the Board of Commissioners Nov. 1 introduced an ordinance to vacate a portion of Amherst Avenue with conditions. Lamberti will be required to adhere to those conditions in a written agreement that will be signed this week, Commissioner John Amodeo said.

The content of the agreement was not revealed because it is still not signed, Amodeo said Wednesday morning. A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.

Lamberti, the owner of 9707 Amherst Marina, LLC, has 18 years remaining on a $500-per-year lease for the restaurant. The lease obligates Lamberti to maintain 231 feet of bulkhead that fronts the restaurant, but the ordinance will require that he replace an additional 357 of bulkhead that fronts the marina site.

Lamberti has the necessary state approvals to rebuild the restaurant and replace the bulkhead. The new bulkhead will be built 2-feet in front of the existing bulkhead, which will place it on Lamberti’s riparian property, Amodeo said.

Solicitor John Scott Abbott said it would be a very expensive proposition for the city to incur the cost of replacing the entire 1,200 feet of city-owned bulkhead that is “shot” and needs to be replaced.

“It’s a huge project for us,” he said.

It would be wise to have bayfront property owners who want to redevelop their properties incur the cost of replacing the bulkhead whenever possible, he said.

The developers of two bayfront properties – the old Integrity Marine and Capt. Andy’s Marina – have already replaced the bulkhead across their properties at their own expense. However, both projects have been stalled by a legal suit brought by residents of the Harbor Vista condominium development across Amherst Avenue who fear they will lose public parking and bayfront view.

The estimated cost for Lamberti to replace 588 feet of bulkhead will be $882,000, officials said.

Amodeo said the agreement would not only relieve the city of the cost of replacing a portion of bulkhead, but would also enhance resiliency from the effects of future storms by increasing the bulkhead height to the required 8-foot elevation.

The agreement would also allow the city to “modernize” the area for the good of the city, he said.

On Oct. 25, the Planning Board granted a one-year extension of all the necessary C and bulk variances originally granted on Nov. 17, 2016 for Lamberti to rebuild the restaurant on its existing footprint. Vacating the land would provide Lamberti with full ownership of 30- by 231-foot strip of land under the restaurant along with the new bulkhead, which will be built 2-feet into the water. He will be required to maintain the bulkhead in perpetuity.

The agreement will also help the city solve some of its parking issues by requiring Lamberti to set aside for public use 24 of the 64 parking spaces at his parking lot located a half-block away at 207 N. Monroe Ave.

Lamberti will be permitted to demolish the restaurant upon completion of replacing 250 feet of bulkhead, the ordinance states. The street vacation will not be finalized until Lamberti’s entire bulkhead is replaced and the parking spaces are suitably designated.

Administrator Richard Deaney said the city has already appropriated $800,000 for bulkhead repairs in a bond approved earlier this year. The deal would not only relieve the city of the cost of replacing that section of bulkhead, but it would also allow the city to move forward in January with bidding to build a promenade across the bulkhead.

“The goal is to get this all done by next summer,” he said.

Amodeo said the city has been engaged in “hard negotiations” with Lamberti for the last 18 months and the deal would be “win-win” for the city.

“If we pass this ordinance, we have to hope that he lives up to his end,” Abbott said.

When completed, Lamberti will be required to pay annual taxes on the assessed value of the property, Mayor Michael Becker said.

Categories: Margate

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

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