By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
An Ocean City condominium complex has been shut down after it was declared structurally unsafe by a state agency.
City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson reported to City Council on Thursday night that the Seaspray condos at 34th Street and Bay Avenue have been “red-tagged” by order of the state Department of Community Affairs and remain closed.
McCrosson noted that the condo residents have been notified that assistance is available “though a couple of different avenues” to help them relocate while the building is shut down.
Standing by to provide assistance are the city’s Office of Emergency Management and OCNJ CARE, a nonprofit organization that provides help in the community, McCrosson said.
Councilman Bob Barr said he has received calls from some of the condo residents expressing their concerns.
“They don’t know what they’re going to do. They don’t have anywhere to go,” Barr said.
Mayor Jay Gillian explained that the state Department of Community Affairs is handling the shutdown and it is out of the city’s “realm.” However, he stressed that the city will try to help out the displaced condo residents.
“This is a DCA matter, this is a state of New Jersey matter, it’s the condo association. But with everything, we will do whatever we can to help them out,” Gillian said.
The condo complex is currently embroiled in litigation. McCrosson noted that the city is a defendant in the litigation, so she is restricted in what she can say while the lawsuit is pending in court.
In an interview after the council meeting, McCrosson said that an engineering report concluded the condos are structurally unsafe. She didn’t immediately know who hired the engineer or exactly what type of unsafe condition was found.
McCrosson told council that the condominium’s association may possibly appeal the shutdown to the DCA or pursue other options.
“They have a 15-day right of appeal. The condominium association could decide to make repairs. They could challenge the decision of the DCA. They could decide as a group that they’re going to tear down the building. We don’t know what they’ll do, but they will act as an association,” she said.
Councilman Jody Levchuk expressed concern that the building could remain closed for an extended period of time.
“I don’t think anyone wants to see a red-tagged building anywhere in their neighborhood,” Levchuk said. “That’s why I’m asking, how long?”
Connor Brady, who owns a Seaspray condo, told council that the association’s board of directors is considering its options, including repairing the building or possibly selling it to a developer.
In public remarks, Brady blamed the controversy on an unnamed “disgruntled” resident who is intent on “bullying everyone to get what he wants.” He did not elaborate.