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Seaside Heights Motel Owner Plans Objection to Redevelopment Declaration

Properties selected for an investigation into redevelopment declaration, Seaside Heights, March 2022. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Properties selected for an investigation into redevelopment declaration, Seaside Heights, March 2022. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The owner of a motel in Seaside Heights cited as one of 13 properties to be considered as a potential redevelopment area as early as 2022 is planning to fight the designation at a future planning board hearing.

The Seaside Heights planning board had been scheduled to hear an engineer’s report and other testimony regarding the Cloud 9 Inn, located at 124 Hamilton Avenue, and whether it qualifies to be formally designated as an area in need of redevelopment. In this case, the designation – if endorsed by the planning board and adopted by the borough council – would allow for condemnation as a remedy. The council has already voted to send the matter to the planning board for consideration.

Planning board attorney Steven Zabarsky said this week that the hearing on the designation would be carried to a meeting in either May or June after his office received correspondence from an attorney representing the owner of the Cloud 9 Inn property. The owner of the property is planning to object to the redevelopment designation, and plans to submit his own report, presumably to counter any findings that the property meets the qualifications for the declaration.

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“They have not provided a report, and we specifically requested they provide one before the hearing so the board and our planner would have the opportunity to review what it is they were going to present to the board,” said Zabarsky.

While the redevelopment designation does not necessarily mean the borough does, indeed, plan on utilizing eminent domain to take the property, it does allow the borough to draw up a redevelopment plan and enforce its implementation. Occasionally, the designation prompts the owner to redevelop their own property, and in other cases it leads to a willing sale of the parcel. Condemnation is generally used as a last resort.

The motel has been standing since 1984 and was last sold in 2007 at the height of the “real estate bubble” of the time for $2 million, according to county tax records. It is located directly behind the former Karma nightclub site, with the motel’s parking lot separating the inn from the former nightclub, which itself has been torn down and is being redeveloped as a mixed-use commercial and luxury residential complex.

The motel is located on a 140,000 square foot parcel that technically spans two lots.

Though the matter is pending, there is no immediate rush on the hearing, Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz – who serves on the planning board – said.

“There’s no particular rush on it,” he said. “It’s not like a developer or property owner is looking to get this through to get permits and start building.”

Zabarsky agreed.

“We don’t want to quote-unquote ‘squeeze it in,’ because there are no time constraints,” he said.

The board voted to adjourn the hearing on redevelopment to the May 28 meeting, however if the property owner’s professionals are not available to appear, it may be further adjourned until one of the board’s June meeting dates.

Zabarsky said the borough will publish a fresh legal notice announcing the hearing when a date is finally decided.

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