The zoning would also allow the owners of the buildings that were destroyed by a 2012 fire to rebuild them as they were and would also allowed a proposed application by Chabad of the Shore to build a Jewish multicultural center on the second floor and retail on the first floor of the lot on the corner of Brighton Avenue and Ocean Avenue where the old movie theater and a group of vacant stores are currently located. Both projects would have to go before the Long Branch Planning Board for approval.
The ordinance would also encourage the idea of shared parking between uses. For example, any new parking that is created by NJ Rep would be shared between the theater and other West End businesses.
Mariann Ciampa spoke at the meeting and said she had a concern about the increased parking demand in the area.
"I for one support the NJ Rep and what they intend to do, but I am concerned about the parking," Ciampa said.
Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider said the number of parking spaces would increase via the Chabad of the Shore application and the NJ Rep application.
"There will be a huge increase in the number of public parking, not paid for by the public," Mayor Adam Schneider said.
Schneider said both projects would have to comply with a parking management plan and that there will be "substantially more parking."
Other residents voiced their concerns about the project, and one, Vincent Lepore, suggested a referendum should have been held on the ordinance so the public could vote on whether or not it should be adopted.
Members of council said they were fully in favor of the ordinance.
"Our intent is to bring what is already there into compliance," Councilwoman Joy Bastelli said. "I think this is a great solution."
"I believe this will vitalize West End and will bring in more retail," Councilwoman Kathleen Billings said. "The parking will be better...there will be places where the public can park where they haven't been able to park before."