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What Is The Future of the Vacant West End Lot?

LONG BRANCH: City officials are looking to change the zoning of the West End area so buildings similar to those destroyed by a February 2012 fire can be rebuilt.

“We’re currently looking at the Master Plan zoning and the issues in the area,” Mayor Adam Schneider said. “Right now we’ve got empty buildings and an empty lot and we’re trying to figure out how to address it.”

Two of the three Brighton Avenue buildings that were destroyed by the fire had retail on the first floor and apartments on their upper floors. The current zoning of the area only allows new construction to contain retail uses.

Schneider said the zoning change would allow mixed use structures to be built.

“There certainly will be a zoning change, we’re just not sure how dramatic it is going to be,” he said.

He said one potential problem is that there is currently not enough parking in the area for a mixed use development and that something would likely need to be worked out to find more.

Officials had been holding off on changing the zoning in the area until Chabad of the Shore’s application before the Long Branch Zoning Board of Adjustment had concluded. The board denied Chabad a use variance to build at the site of the old West End movie theater and its adjoining businesses last year.

However, Chabad did appeal the board’s decision and a decision in the case has still not been reached.

Chabad of the Shore was seeking a use variance to build a two-story building in place of the old West End movie theater and two businesses, containing a 200-seat sanctuary, a 200-person capacity multipurpose room with a kitchen on the second floor, and five classrooms, office space and a room for religious services on the second floor. A large, 51-space parking lot in the rear of the property was also included in the plan.

A religious use is not permitted in the city’s C-3 zone. The zone allows for retail, restaurants, municipal buildings, parks and other businesses.

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