VENTNOR — Hoping to better regulate lot sizes within the city’s historic St. Leonard’s Tract area, the Planning Board agreed to recommend that the city create a new zone solely for oceanfront properties at its meeting Sept. 24.
The Planning Board had first decided to review the area, known as the R1 zone, in July to fix what it saw as spot zoning on three vacant lots along the Boardwalk that have sat empty for almost 15 years.
The properties are located in St. Leonard’s tract, an eight-block area in the middle of the city known for its historic homes. The area has typically held single-family homes on mostly 50-by-125 lots.
However, debate swirled about the minimum lot requirements for properties along the Boardwalk, which have typically been larger in the past.
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The board specifically found issue with an ordinance passed in 2003 that requires any new oceanfront development in the zone to have a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet. According to the ordinance, all lots that already existed there before 2003 were kept at a minimum of 5,750 square feet.
Previously, the city had proposed lowering the minimum oceanfront lot size from 80 feet to 50 feet. Lots standardize all properties in St. Leonard’s Tract.
However, after hearing concerns from St. Leonard’s Tract residents who wanted to preserve the area’s history and its open space, the Planning Board decided that creating a new Boardwalk zone entirely would best serve the city.
Board Engineer Roger McLarnon conducted a review of the 19 properties along the Boardwalk, and said he could not find one prevailing lot size.
Out of the 19 Boardwalk properties, 12 lots are 80 feet wide, four lots are 60-65 feet, and three lots are 50 feet.
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As a result, he suggested the city create a new zone, which could be designated the R1B zone. McLarnon said this solution would both eliminate spot zoning and allow the Boardwalk lot sizes to remain the same.
Members of the board agreed this solution would both standardize the original R1 zone and preserve the uniqueness of Boardwalk properties.
Many in attendance applauded the board’s decision to keep Boardwalk lots the same.
“You heard from the community, and we appreciate that you listened to us,” said Todd Miller, a representative from the St. Leonard's Tract Association.
McLarnon said it would be a lengthy process to create a new zone. The Board of Commissioners must draft an ordinance, have it up for introduction and public hearing, and notify residents who live 200 feet from the new zone.