Dan Breaks the Code on Asbury's Waterfront Plan Mystery--
The answer was in the Planning Board Records right on AsburyPark.net Asbury's Waterfront Plan Dilemma - Viva la Difference! See March '02, June '02 When you read these two pages, remember the June page went to the DEP for the permit to build on the waterfront, where DEP rules say you can no longer erect a building that casts a shadow across the sand. The added paragraph in the June plan, seems to address that concern. But it's the March plan the city says is the legal one. Read Update appraiser Dan Sciannameo's letter to city manager Reidy. Also, was the waterfront given away too cheaply? Read the comments of MD Sass's Marty Sass on his surprise at his good fortune.
Waterfront Redevelopment Plan Redux - Click to Read June Plan
Oct. 6, 2005- Which is the official, legal redevelopment plan for Asbury Park's waterfront? Is it the bound book dated March 15, 2002? Or the nearly identical bound book dated June 5, 2002? Does the latter convey the after-thoughts and wishes of the government? If you're Metro Homes, approved sub-developers for the unfinished hi-rise site on Kingsley and Ocean, the answer is worth millions!!
Metro Homes recently announced that it will have to tear down the existing skeletal remains of the now defunct-Ocean Mile's condo hi-rise, and replace the structure right down to the extensive foundation (hear the contractor involved in this project describe it's pouring on Asbury Radio), which is estimated to add another $4 million to its cost of construction. (Asbury Park's redevelopment attorney, James Aaron, estimated last night that the proceeds from selling the scrap steel may be as much as $3 million, which could offset the $4 million.)
The ramifications of demolishing the 16-story framework were discussed in detail on Asbury Radio last week. In addition to cost factors, we discussed the question as to how high - how many stories - the new structure could be under the waterfront plan. This is where some noticeable differences between the March and June versions of the plan appeared. In the March version the block, #176, is blacked out, meaning it is to remain as existing. On page 77 of the March plan, which suggests 'Dwelling Unit Distribution', all 224 units planned for #176 are in the column labeled 8 stories. On page 79 of the March plan, it states that "owners of Ocean Mile will be allowed to finish the construction of this 224 unit project provided that: 1.) The parking structure is cut back to restore Ocean Avenue's original right-of-way 2.) The building's facade is redesigned to be more compatible with the architectural standards of the plan. Balconies on this building may exceed a 3-foot depth." Note the word finish - It does not address building from scratch.
However, in the June 5, 2002 version, which the city says originated from Asbury Partners, the redevelopment rights holder on the waterfront -- the version that was removed from the city's web site this week -- there is a paragraph added to the Dwelling Unit Distribution section. It states: "If the former Ocean Mile structure on block #176 is demolished, the height limits for the new structures on this block shall match those for the block #161." The maximum height for Block #161 is 8 stories. If one is to assume that the June plan superseded the March plan, a notion which has support in the fact that the planning board had not made its recommendations to the council on the plans presented to it in January until April, then Metro Homes would be limited to building to 8 stories, not the 10 and 16 stories that exist now. Even if it was capable of working all 224 units onto a site limited to 8-stories, Metro would lose money on condo prices, which typically rise with the floor levels. An amount which professional appraiser Dan Sciannameo estimated to be worth $30 million to the sub-developer. Sciannameo, who identified himself at the mike as "The guy you invited to the dance, but didn't ask to dance," an allusion to the council's original invitation to him to help appraise the Triangle property at the East end of Deal Lake Drive, called the mix up another "half-cocked" attempt. He noted the planning board's response wasn't until April and that the ordinance, #2607, refers to their having reviewed a Jan. 16, 2002 plan and some changes/additions.
Aaron advised the council, also last night, that if Metro Homes demolishes the site, it will be required to apply again to the Technical Review Committee, the planning board and the Council to gain site approvals, a task of maybe four - six months duration, he said. However, when an audience member asked redevelopment director Don Sammett what height Metro would be allowed to build to, he answered, "Sixteen and ten," implying that the heights don't need approval. Sammett said Metro had not yet given him a definitive answer as to when it planned to tear the structure down.
None of the exchanges seemed to answer the riddle of how the city could've mistakenly started using a version of the plan that differs from the one voted into law by the council. Nor did it explain who exactly added the additional language. City Clerk Steve Kay had run out of copies of the March plan and thought when the June books arrived that they were the additional copies he'd ordered. Aaron said he never bothered to read the June plan because it hadn't been approved by the council. Sammett apologized for the error and explained that he was under the impression that the June dated plan was the official document because it was in use by staff and a copy was lying on his desk when he began his job as redevelopment director. Council member Jim Keady asked the city manager, Terry Reidy, to conduct a full investigation into the matter and furnish a report. Council member Ed Johnson dismissed the differences between the reports as speculation and urged the council to move on.