Linwood City Council will face a request to vacate a bay-view street end on Cheltenham Avenue, as well as an ordinance that may disallow further such requests, after an almost month-long delay.
The council will consider the items at its Nov. 14 regular meeting.
A history of street ends in Linwood revealed that out of the 25 street ends that provide views to Skull Bay and Patcong Creek, no requests have ever been approved.
Of the three known requests, the earliest dating back to 1989, different individuals applied for vacation of street ends for various reasons including building larger homes, though the current applicant said that is not his aim. None of the about 10 recorded street vacations since 1969 were waterfront vacations.
Vacating the street end means the city gives up all ownership of the land, and it is a process that cannot be reversed, said Councilman Tim Tighe.
To avoid any such requests in the future, the Environmental Commission crafted an ordinance to disallow waterfront street vacations and has recommended it to the city to be voted on at the upcoming meeting.
Robert Bishop, of Equity Title Agency Inc. in Egg Harbor Township and a resident of Linwood, attended an Oct. 10 meeting to give the City Council a history lesson of the area in question.
Bringing maps and old deeds along with him, Bishop explained the area was originally all part of a subdivision called Woodland Manor, which spanned from Shore Road to the bay.
“If you are looking to vacate any portions of these roads, you are cutting off access to the city-owned land,” Bishop said. “Is the city on a case-by-case basis going to vacate something here, and something not here, or is it (the city) just going to keep it open the way it is now.”
The city had acquired all the land between 1944 and 1948, Bishop said.
Only one small parcel of the street end on Cheltenham Avenue, opposite the parcel being requested for vacation, had been sold to a property owner. The sale included restrictions on the land that it could never be developed on, nor could it be combined with any other lots, Bishop said.
City records show that area of land which had been sold was tax exempt for a number of years, previously, but is not anymore.
Currently the state Fishing and Wildlife Commission owns some parcels to gain access to the bays, according to Environmental Commission board member Bill Purdie.
“Linwood has been a good steward of open spaces and it would be inconsistent with past good stewardship” to vacate the property, Purdie said.
The reason behind recommending an ordinance to put the issue to rest once and for all, Purdie said, is to ensure future consistency.
“Governments change and attitudes change,” he said. “Put it to rest so it doesn’t come up 10 to 15 years from now.”
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