Margate Gardens, 9710 Ventnor Ave.


MARGATE – Mistrust of city officials became more apparent Thursday, May 2 as the Board of Commissioners heard public comments from several Margate residents who spoke about the city’s alleged failure to uphold Planning Board approvals granted to local developer Steve Baglivo for his Margate Gardens multi-use development.

Residents and city attorney John Scott Abbott sparred repeatedly over the residents’ concerns that the developer may have rented more than the six, two-bedroom units approved for the mixed-use development on Ventnor Avenue near the Longport border, and that tenants are being told they cannot park their vehicles in the parking lot during business hours.

“These are not internet rumors,” neighbor Marissa Keddis said.

The building meets all requirements set out for development, Abbott said.

“He’s built it according to approved plans,” Abbott said. “The objection here is how he operates.”

The discussion became so heated at times that one resident asked if Margate officials are on the take.

“Who is this guy, God?” next door neighbor Alana Alexander said. “How much did he pay you? I don’t know how he gets away with this.”

Residents have repeatedly asked the city to reinspect Baglivo’s property to ensure he is not renting more apartments than the Planning Board approved.

During the meeting, Abbott said there were five, two-bedroom units and one, three-bedroom unit, although there was no discussion of the three-bedroom unit during the Aug. 22, 2022 Planning Board meeting, and the subsequent Decision and Resolution issued by the Planning Board specifically states they approved six, two-bedroom units.

Residents allege Baglivo has tenants living in one-bedroom units, they said, and that he is prohibiting them from parking in the parking lot during the time the liquor store on the first floor is open. According to the residents, the parking lot is empty most of the time and tenants are parking on Ventnor and Cooledge Avenue, which exacerbates parking problems for other area residents, they said.

“They should be permitted to park there,” Abbott said, but there are no restrictions against the owner charging his tenants parking fees.

When out-of-town owners return to their homes for the summer, they will have to ride around until they find a spot, sometimes parking blocks away from their homes, Alexander said. Meanwhile, the parking lot is empty.

The board approved 15 parking spaces during the hearing held Aug. 22, 2022, three for the commercial section of the building and two spaces for each of the six units approved. No variance was necessary for the residential parking spaces, but a variance was granted for the commercial parking spaces.

Keddis, who lives across from Margate Gardens, said she wants a “solution to the violations,” which she suggested includes doing an inspection and reviewing leases to reveal parking restrictions Baglivo has imposed.

“Tenants have confirmed there are 12 units and they are not allowed to park in the lot during business hours,” she said. “These are not internet rumors.”

Abbott said he reviewed the leases on file.

“I saw six leases not 12,” he said. “But he is charging for parking.”

The issue at hand is not what was built, but how Baglivo is operating the property, Abbott said. “There is no law that says he cannot charge for parking.”

Neighbor Scott Marcus said the city has the right to inspect the properties to ensure that the units are being rented as approved.

“Why is not the burden on him to prove,” he said. “We all love Margate. It’s changed and it’s grown and the houses got bigger. You need a firm grip over this, if not, its chaos.”

“According to all the paperwork we have, it’s six rentals,” Abbott said.

Alexander called the whole situation “bizarre.”

“I talk to people when I walk my dog…and they say it’s a one-bedroom…so there’s walls,” she said. “You have to go in there and physically see what’s going on there.”

According to Abbott, the apartments were built with an opening between the bedrooms that can be closed off, much like a hotel or motel has adjacent rooms. At one point, there were two kitchens in each of the units that the city made Baglivo remove.

Baglivo is operating with Temporary Certificates of Occupancy, which show additional requirements that need to be completed before a full Certificate of Occupancy is issued.

According to Building Inspector James Galantino, the main issue stopping the city from issuing a full CO for the units is that work needs to be completed on the elevator serving all three floors.

Documentation obtained through an OPRA request shows each of the six residential units was provided with a Temporary CO on Dec. 11, 2023. The Temporary COs indicate they are two-bedroom, two-bath units. Baglivo was required to “provide piling vibration report,” “provide flood proofing certificate,” “provide proof of final elevator inspection approval,” and “obtain final zoning re-inspection approval” to remove temporary status.

The initial Temporary COs had an expiration date of Feb. 9, 2024. Continuing Temporary COs were issued for all the residential units on April 18, the day of the last commissioners’ meeting, with the same conditions, except for the piling vibration report, and a new expiration date of June 17. Temporary COs were also provided for the commercial portion of the building and the Marble Building next door.

The property has two curb cuts for ingress and egress and a third driveway on Cooledge Avenue that the resolution states is to be removed. During the meeting, Marcus said Baglivo plans to use the Cooledge Avenue driveway for egress, which conflicts with the D&R. During the planning process, the developer was granted a checklist waiver from providing a written traffic impact statement and variance relief for not having the required number of commercial parking spaces. Three were approved where 30 were required.

According to the D&R, “The (Planning) Board finds that a commercial parking deficiency is nothing new in the City of Margate and notes the parking shortage is generally limited to weekends in the summer season and further notes the many other modes of transportation that the public often utilizes, such as car-pooling, bicycling, walking, and ride sharing applications such as Lyft and Uber, to help alleviate the parking deficiency.”

The D&R further states “All representations made by or on behalf of the applicant during the course of the hearing shall be followed.”

The property currently has a partial assessment that was set on Oct. 1, 2023 according to state law and before tenants took occupancy. The entire property is assessed at $2,190,100. In September, the city will reinspect the property and set a new assessment amount for 2025. The amount of taxes for 2024 will be pro-rated. also filed an OPRA request for the leases. There are six leases all containing two bedroom units, however, two of the units, 201 and 202, were combined to house an extended family. There are discrepancies in the Applications for Rental Approval on file showing different bathroom configurations than originally proposed. Only one document shows there are two bathrooms, while others show half-baths in excess of two.

Galantino was at a loss to explain the discrepancies, noting they are probably just clerical errors, but forwarded a photo showing a door connecting two full bathrooms, with access to them from the living area and one of the bedrooms.

According to McLarnon, interior changes are the purview of the Building Department.

Discussion also indicated that Baglivo intends to turn the apartments into condominiums, which would alleviate some of the residents’ concerns because the sale of any property requires the municipality to conduct an inspection and issue a full CO.


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Categories: Margate

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

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