Monthly Archives: May 2016

Tap House Application Carried to June 30th BOA Meeting

The Spring Lake Heights Board of Adjustment tonight carried the application by the Spring Lake Tap House to the June 30th meeting. Missing from the testimony were several points, most noticeably what type of stormwater management system would be installed. The Tap House is requesting 84% lot coverage where 75% is the maximum allowed by law and where they currently have 78%. The increase in impervious surface coverage produces more rainwater run-off that needs to be dealt with so it will not flood roadways or neighboring areas.

The Tap House representatives did present testimony as to how an outdoor dining area would be of great benefit to the residents because it is currently a much sought-after accommodation. Board members asked extensive questions about the capacity – currently, the bar has seating for 119. The outdoor dining area would seat 64, but the applicant explained these would not be in addition to the 119 allowed indoors. Instead, bar management would police the number of people admitted so that the total number of patrons seated at any time, indoor AND outdoor, would remain at 119.

The applicants felt there would be no impact on parking, as they indicated that no one drives anymore, but uses Uber, taxis, and bicycles. However, Mercer Avenue residents who attended spoke of the current parking situation with cars parked on both sides of the streets and in local business. The bar currently has 22 on-site parking spaces, where 37 are required. The proposed expansion would require 58 on-site spaces, and the bar is requesting a variance to provide only the existing 22 spaces.

Board Chairman Dennis Pearsall expressed an interest in seeing a revised application that would not expand the impervious service from the current 78%. The applicants indicated that they would attempt to show this at the June 30th meeting, along with plans for the stormwater management system.

Of the Mercer Avenue residents who spoke, one indicated that more of her neighbors would have come to speak as they were opposed to the expansion but they “were not invited.” Board Attorney Mark Kitrick explained that the hearing was an open public meeting and that anyone could attend and speak either for or against the proposal. He explained that residents living within 200 feet of the application, by law, had to be notified of the hearing but that the hearing was not limited to them.

Heightsonline will present the video recording of the hearing on our YouTube channel in a few days. All residents are welcome to come to the June 30th meeting.

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Expansion of Spring Lake Tap House Subject of Zoning Board Hearing

At their Thursday, May 26 meeting, the SLH Zoning Board of Adjustment will hear the Spring Lake Tap House’s application for the installation of an outdoor dining area. Under the current Municipal Land Use Law, outdoor dining is not an allowable use in the B-2 commercial zone and would require a variance.

Additional proposed uses that would require variances are:

An off-street parking area for 58 cars, where currently only 22 spaces exist. The bar currently should have 37 spaces but is allowed a waiver from the 22-space requirement, possibly due to an old variance to previous owners. As there is no room for additional on-site parking, granting this portion of the variance would see an increase in on-street parking in the neighborhood around the bar.

A bulk variance is requested for lot coverage. The law provides for a commercial building to cover no more than 75% of its lot. Currently, the bar has 78.6% coverage. The planned expansion would create 84.29% coverage.

A variance is requested for the construction of a brick wall and iron fence over 3 feet in height and located less than 35 feet of the street line. Currently, the bar has a 32 foot setback from Route 71 (30 feet is required by law). The proposed dining area would take up approximately 16 feet of this setback area, putting it within 16 feet of Route 71. The wall would shield diners from the highway traffic.

The bar currently operates with several existing non-conformities. In addition to the lack of on-site parking and the lot coverage, non-conformities include a lot size of 16,940 square feet where 18,000 is required, a front yard setback of 4.15 feet on Mercer Avenue where 30 feet is required, and a side yard setback of 0 feet where 5 feet is required. This last item is along the property’s southern boundary where the bar’s freezer units are placed on the property line.

Other issues to be addressed are the many site improvement waivers included in the plan. Site improvements are items not necessarily required by law, but requested of a business in order to be a good neighbor. The site improvement waivers include those pertaining to shade trees and parking lot landscaping, curbs and sidewalks, 3 foot side and rear setbacks of pavement, stormwater management, trash enclosures, parking lot lighting, access drives to parking lot, the buffer from adjoining streets, parking space size, and off street loading.

Applicants are also requested to fill out a Sustainability Checklist which allows the Borough to evaluate if “green” methods will be used in the project, such as using water efficient landscaping or a sustainable stormwater system. All checklist items are marked either “TBD” or “N/A” by the applicant.

Additionally, if the use were to be approved, the bar would then need to apply to the Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) and the municipality for a place-to-place transfer of their liquor license to be allowed to serve in the expanded space.

Historically, Spring Lake Heights has not allowed outdoor dining at bars and restaurants. It has been viewed as a quality of life issue, due to the close proximity of the bar facilities to residential neighborhoods. Residents in the Mercer Avenue area have, over the years, complained increasingly of nuisance issues such as litter, noise, and public urination due to bar patrons.

In stating why the variance should be granted, the applicant wrote: “Applicant seeks to provide the Spring Lake Heights community and surrounding area with ability to dine outdoors during seasonal/temperate weather conditions. A use variance is required for applicant to install patio-deck to accomplish the outdoor dining experience which many diners desire during the warm months at the Jersey Shore.” The applicant must show that the benefits of the proposed expansion outweigh any detriment to the neighborhood.

Neighbors within 200 feet of the planned expansion should have been notified of the hearing. Any resident wishing to speak for or against the plan may attend the meeting on May 26 at 7:30 PM in the Borough Hall. Anyone wishing to review the submitted plans may do so at the Borough Hall between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM, Monday through Friday.

Council Presentation by Monmouth County Tax Board Members James Stuart and Cliff Moore

On February 8, 2016, James Stuart and Cliff Moore of the Monmouth County Tax Board made an approximately two hour presentation to the SLH Borough Council on the County’s Assessment Demonstration Program. During this meeting, they explained what they felt were the benefits of the program and asked that the Council not opt out.The Borough has until May 31 to make this decision.

Mr. Stuart emphatically noted the program was “not about reform” and wondered aloud where people had gotten this idea. Perhaps he should review his Board’s public relations talking points more closely: Tax Board director Matt Clark has given several interviews during which he explained that the program “represents true tax reform.”

Readers can view the presentation at the Heightsonline YouTube channel:

Monmouth County Tax Board Member Resigns When Questioned About Real Estate Deal

 
The Asbury Park Press reports that Monmouth County Tax Board member, James Stuart, resigned Friday under allegations that he may not have lived in the county during much of his appointed time on the Board.
Stuart, the former mayor of Colts Neck, was appointed to the $22,846 a year position by NJ Governor Chris Christie in June 2013. At that time, Stuart lived in Colts Neck. He sold that home three months after his appointment and changed his voter registration address to that of his daughter’s Ocean Township residence.
 
However, the Asbury Park Press investigated a property sale of a home in Barnegat and found that Stuart indicated that home was his primary residence. For the 2015 sale, Stuart received a $1,137 senior citizen exemption from the New Jersey realty transfer fee. When questioned, Stuart told the Press that his wife had mistakenly filled out the paperwork for the home sale even though his signature was the only one on the forms.
 
The Press broke the story in their May 5 edition and Stuart resigned Friday, May 6, claiming that he did not want to “drag the Board through the political muck.”
 
Stuart, along with Board president Cliff Moore, gave a lengthy presentation to the Spring Lake Heights Borough Council on February 8. For approximately two hours, the two Board members extolled what they saw as the virtues of the County’s new Assessment Demonstration Program. Mr. Stuart was adamant that the program was “not about reform,” even though Monmouth County Tax Board executive director Matt Clark has repeatedly said in interviews that the program “represents true tax reform.”
 
The program, which revalues property on a regular basis, has caused a spike in land values and in property taxes for residents. Residents have attended council meetings to speak out against the program; the Borough has until May 31 to opt out.