Casino Pier in Seaside Heights received a permit under the state’s Coastal Area Facilities Review Act (CAFRA) to build a proposed addition last week, but the decision from a state commission on a land swap deal between the borough and the pier’s owner could take another six months to be determined.
The CAFRA permit represents the state’s seal of approval on the proposed construction of the 225-foot by 266-foot addition to the pier, which would be situated over the beachfront to the north of the existing structure. The land on which the pier would expand is current owned by the borough of Seaside Heights.
In order for construction to begin, a land swap between the borough and Casino Pier would need approval by the state Department of Environmental Protection in a process known as a diversion. Under the proposed swap, Seaside Heights would trade a 1.36 acre parcel of beachfront land for a historic carousel owned by the Storino family, which owns the pier, plus piece of land between Sampson and Carteret avenues owned by the Storinos which would be turned into a boardwalk museum. The museum would house the carousel.
“We’re looking at another six months” before a decision is rendered on the land swap deal, said George R. Gilmore, the Seaside Heights borough attorney.
At a hearing held in May, most members of the borough’s business community strongly endorsed the plan, saying additional rides at Casino Pier would bring more families to town and serve as a boon to other boardwalk businesses and rental property owners. A few members of the public were critical of the proposal, however, arguing that the borough’s most precious resource is its beachfront, which should not be turned over to a private enterprise for development.
Gilmore said plans currently call for a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel, among other attractions, to be built on the addition to the pier.
Borough officials are hopeful the plan will pass muster with state officials. Casino Pier was partially destroyed during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, plunging the Jet Star roller coaster into the ocean, which became an iconic image of the storm’s wrath.
“We can’t speak for the statehouse commission as to whether they would approve it, but we expect them to approve it because it would be good for the borough of Seaside Heights,” Gilmore said.