Downtown Merchants Sway Council on Zoning Change

Downtown Merchants Sway Council on Zoning Change

first_imgThe 1000 block of Asbury Avenue in Ocean City, NJ.Objections from retail merchants helped convince the city to give up on a plan to change zoning for the block of Asbury Avenue between 10th and 11th streets.The block is part of a zone between Sixth Street and 11th Street that is reserved for restaurants, retail businesses and retail services. Merchants want to keep it that way.City Council on Aug. 28 had passed the first reading of an ordinance that eliminated the 1000 block of Asbury Avenue from the Central Business (CB) Zone. The measure added the block to the CB-1 zone that allows professional services.Merchants on the 1000 block, who rely on foot traffic on the Avenue, fear that professional offices could eventually overshadow retail businesses and hurt their economic viability.The city administration drafted a new ordinance that preserved other elements but eliminated the change for the 1000 block. City Council passed the new ordinance in a 6-0 vote (with Councilman Keith Hartzell recusing himself because he’s a downtown landlord).Citing more feedback from merchants, Councilman Antwan McClellan proposed amending the ordinance to eliminate contractor’s offices as a permitted use in the downtown CB zone. Council approved the amendment.Council later voted to defeat the second reading of the original ordinance (a procedural necessity).“We’re adamantly opposed to having contractor’s offices in the downtown zone,” said Wood Robinson, owner of Bookateria Two and member of the Downtown Merchants Association Executive Board. “In the future, it would be helpful if you would meet with us before you make changes to the downtown.”Jim Mallon, assistant to Mayor Jay Gillian, said last week that the changes were proposed by a Planning Board subcommittee earlier this year and had been designed to help maintain occupancy on the 1000 block and to “better focus” on the retail district along the rest of Asbury Avenue. He said two banks on opposite sides of Asbury Avenue at 10th Street serve as a natural barrier to foot traffic, and that had been a consideration of the subcommittee.The new ordinance is a detailed revision that includes changes related to building height, design standards, parking requirements, balconies and decks, and residential units. See PDF below for details (included with documentation for all City Council agenda items).A second reading of the new ordinance is scheduled for Oct. 23.In a related vote, City Council later approved changes to the CB-1 zone (also shown in the PDF below), including allowing residential uses. The zone includes Asbury Avenue from 11th to 14th streets and parts of West Avenue.Download (PDF, 9.4MB)last_img

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