LONG BRANCH: A stalled development project along the city's oceanfront is dormant but not dead, according to Mayor Adam Schneider.
Darlene Billia, a resident of the nearby Excelsior al Mare condominiums, brought up her concerns with the vacant Sea View Towers during the Aug. 22 Long Branch Council meeting.
"We do hope that you begin to address the many hazardous code violations there," Billia said.
Billia has said many of the building's windows have blown out, debris has flown off the rooftops, pieces of sheetrock have fallen from open windows and the fencing around the property has fallen down.
Schneider said the city has been in contact with the owners and that he expects them to begin addressing some of the code violations.
"Our goal is to get cooperation to get the building up to code for a vacant building," Schneider said.
Long Branch Business Administrator Kevin Hayes said the owner must begin fixing the problems at the site within the next two weeks.
Billie said her community was in favor of the original plans for the property and is hopeful they will be demolished soon to make way for the new building.
The buildings are expected to be knocked down to make way for a single, 12-story building that will house a maximum of 100 residential condominium units. It will have 249 parking spaces in an underground parking garage and 55 additional spaces will be added along Ocean Avenue and South Bath Avenue for the public.
The building will feature a sloped design on its eastern front so it will reportedly not block the sun on Ocean Avenue during the summer months. It will also have a luxury health spa/gym, and indoor and outdoor pools. The spa will be reserved for residents but there will also be limited seasonal membership.
The Long Branch Planning Board approved the project in 2013.
Schneider said the city cannot make the owner demolish the buildings
"They are moving ahead with the project," Schneider said. "It is moving ahead very slowly, but the speed is determined by the owner of the property, not by us."
Billia also questioned the possibility of the owners using the site as a condo-hotel; something that was not in the plans approved by the planning board four years ago.
Schneider said any change in the use of the Sea View Towers project would require another approval by the Long Branch Planning Board.
"The building could be identical to what has already been approved, but that the owners would contract with the management to rent it out," Schneider said. "If they don't want to do what was already approved, there will be hearing before the planning board to make sure it's consistent with the ordinance. Right now the only thing that can be built there is what has already been approved."
Schneider said he does not know exactly what the owner's plans are for the building at this time.
He said the zoning in the area has been examined by the planning board, which requested some language an definition changes, but did not recommend changing the zoning.
"The hotel/motel use, which arguably are interchangeable, have also been permitted in that zone going back to the 1960s," he said.