The borough's current seaport redevelopment plan hasn't worked, and so it will be tossed and replaced with a new, improved plan, Mayor Matthew Doherty said.
An 11-member advisory committee of borough residents, property owners and engineers will help draft a plan to replace the old one, approved in 2003, which the mayor said significantly limits what developers can do with their properties. He believes a new plan created with input from people with various interests in the borough will help streamline future projects in the borough.
"We're going to throw out the old plan and come up with a new plan. To do that, we're going to rely on some outstanding residents in town,'' Doherty told The Asbury Park Press. "The hope is that the new plan will be simpler, smaller, much more feasible, but still contain some of the things that work well in our current plan, like payment in lieu of taxes, abatements, things like that.''
Before the resolution was approved by the Borough Council on April 1, Councilman James Bean expressed concern that Belmar has had redevelopment plans in place for the past 30 years. "I don't have much faith in government plans, but hopefully this one is different,'' he said.
The advisory board chairman will be Edward Windas, current chairman of the borough's Planning Board.
Other members with current or former business and development ties to the borough are: David Moran, owner of Federico's on Main Street; John Palus, co-founder of Lake Como-based Dynamic Engineering, who also helped engineer a project along the marina; Barry DePeppe, owner of Showcase Communities and builder of several projects along Main Street; Zack Gross, whose family owns the Belmar Plaza; and Jay McDermott, former chairman of Belmar's Zoning Board and an executive with K. Hovnanian Homes.
Borough residents Krista Sperber, Dominic Peragamo, Matthew Mannion, Steve Woelfer, chairman of the borough's Environmental Commission, and Salvatore Marchese, president of Belmar's Special Improvement District, round out the committee."My thought is that by expanding the number of people that are involved, as opposed to limiting it as it was in the past, it will allow us to come up with ideas that maybe we wouldn't think of,'' Doherty said after the meeting. "Let's make the plan simpler and more flexible so we have a redevelopment plan where things will actually be built, and not an anti-development redevelopment plan like the one we have.''
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Doherty said he wants to eliminate two components of the current plan, a master developer and eminent domain, to help the town to "grow organically and block-by-block.''
The advisory board should hold public meetings about once a month between now and Dec. 31 when their terms expire, according to Doherty. After that, they will present the council with their suggestions early in 2015.
Windas said he hopes to finalize the board's meeting schedule soon and hold the first meeting near the end of April.
He said the tentative plan is to meet on the third Thursday of each month at the borough's municipal building, with a one-hour private session and one-hour public session, pending approval of April Claudio, borough clerk.
More than 44 people contacted the mayor about serving on the board, but Doherty said going beyond an 11-member committee would have been unmanageable. He encourages anyone interested in providing input to email him at mayor(at)belmar.com and he will forward it to the board.