By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
VENTNOR – The stately brick beachfront house Frank Sinatra called home when he performed in Atlantic City could be torn down and replaced by three new houses…someday.
The Planning Board Monday, June 22 approved a “by-right” minor subdivision of the beachfront property at 111 S. Cornwall Ave. The property, which was owned by Steve Wynn, who built the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City in the 1980s, is now owned by a Pennsylvania limited liability corporation. It was subdivided into three lots – a 125- by 125-foot oceanfront lot, and two 50- by 125-foot lots fronting Cornwall Avenue. However, the owner’s attorney, Eric Goldstein of Nehmad, Perillo, Davis & Goldstein, said there are no plans at this time to tear it down and build three new flood compliant houses.
“People seem nervous that it will come down, but the owner just wanted to subdivide it because subdividing it was possible,” he said Tuesday morning.
The current owners could transfer ownership of the property with the option of selling it as one house or three buildable lots.
Goldstein, who has been working with the LLC for about eight months, said he has not personally met the owner, but instead is dealing with a property manager, who requested the subdivision be submitted.
All three lots are sized to conform with current zoning regulations and no variances were needed.
Bill Sill, president of the St. Leonard’s Association, said the organization did not object to the subdivision, but it would be sad to lose another “historic” home.
He suggested the city create a photographic archive of some of the city’s most stately homes.
Neighbor Italia Dominick said if three homes are built at the site, it would exacerbate the shortage of parking in the area.
Board members suggested the owner spruce up the property it owns next door, which is vacant and unsightly, and improve landscaping at the beachfront house.
Goldstein said the owner has 180 days to “perfect” the subdivision or the owner can request an extension of the subdivision approval for up to one year.
Commissioner Tim Kriebel, who is a member of the Planning Board, said he was “sad to see it go, but maybe you can whisper to the architect to incorporate elements of the home into the new design.”
Planning Board Chairman Jay Cooke said the new homes would “rejuvenate the city with new building techniques”
“I look forward to the future for the City of Ventnor,” he said.
“It’s really sad to see these old properties go,” board member Lorraine Sallata said. “But I like the idea of photo archiving the older homes.”
Board member and real estate professional Dan Smith said the building is not compliant with the new FEMA building height regulations, and that building new homes would “bring new life to the area along with added ratables.”
The board voted unanimously to approve the subdivision.
However, it denied a variance request from owners at 13 N. Wissahickon Ave. for an air conditioning unit that board members said was installed too close to the neighboring home. The unit was installed 2.85 feet from the property line when 4 feet is the required setback. Although the neighbor approved its location, a future neighbor could object to having the unit so close to their house, board members said.
Cooke said the installation was a mistake that could have been avoided if the owners had contacted the Building Department before the work was done.
The board also requested the owners, Joseph and Lynn Yacovitch, replace the grass they removed from the governor’s strip. The couple installed stones in the strip and removed a street tree that had died, Joseph Yacovitch said. The board requested they remove the stones and replant the grass and two street trees to help eliminate street flooding.
The variance was denied with a vote of 2-5.
The third application of the Zoom meeting was devoted to approving four variances for the owner of a beachfront home at 5802 Boardwalk to raise the height of the existing seawall and install a glass privacy fence.
According to owners Jim and Janice Owens, the fence is needed to ensure privacy from the curious eyes of passers-by strolling the boardwalk when they are swimming in the pool or relaxing on the deck.
Architect, Craig Dothe, whose firm designed the expansive contemporary home 20 years ago for the previous owners, was in the process of modifying the interior spaces to bring the home up to today’s standards and worked to find an appropriate solution for their privacy issue.
The glass fence will have a vinyl covering on the ocean side of reflective glass panels that will screen the property from curious onlookers. It will be far enough away from the boardwalk that the extra height would not be noticeable and would improve the downbeach view for neighbors across the street, Dothe said. It would be high enough to prevent teenagers from climbing the fence to swim in their pool.
A pre-existing privacy hedge, which grew two stories tall, has been removed because it completely blocked the owners’ views of the boardwalk, dunes and ocean. Janice Owens is planning to work with the city to landscape a 17-foot wide buffer area between the fence and the boardwalk.
Sill and fellow-SLA member Todd Miller said they had no objections to approving the variances needed to ensure the owners have privacy.
“We take seriously applications that will ruin views for oceanfront property owners,” Sill said.
He thanked the owners and their architect for reaching out to the association in advance of submitting their application.
They asked the Planning Board to revisit ordinances regulating fences along the boardwalk.
Board members said the owners found a “good solution” to their privacy issues.
The board voted unanimously to approve variances for the height of the seawall, height of the fence, location of the fence and the height of the corner posts.
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