A hearing before the Seaside Heights planning board will investigate whether the site of a troubled motel is appropriate for a redevelopment project.
The Sept. 23 hearing will focus on 314 Bay Avenue, the site of the motel currently known as the Travel Inn.
Last year, the motel was operating under the Travelodge brand and was referenced in a widely-circulated Star-Ledger newspaper article that identified it as being one of the borough’s motels in which at least one sex offender was being housed as part of a county-run housing program for the homeless. The article quoted the offender as saying he was employed as the motel’s night watchman. Shortly after the article, the Wyndham Hotel Group – owner of the Travelodge brand – ended the location’s franchise agreement. There are numerous tax liens registered on the motel with the Ocean County Clerk’s Office.
“There’s a developer interested in redeveloping that area,” said Christopher Vaz, Seaside Heights Borough Administrator. “In order to go forward with that, we have to meet the statutory requirements.”
One of those statutory requirements is tasking the planning board with holding a public investigatory hearing, the results of which will be forwarded to the governing body. The board will consider any objections to a redevelopment declaration or anyone who wishes to speak in support of the plan. Declaring an area as being in need of redevelopment can include the potential for condemnation proceedings, though a 2013 law allows municipalities to decide whether such a threat should be included in a declaration ordinance. Redevelopment designations are commonly used to spur development projects in blighted areas.
Due to confidentiality concerns, the name of the potential redeveloper has not been stated publicly.
The hearing will be held Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. in the borough’s council chambers.