Upper Zoning Board Denies Strathmere Hotel Request | Government
PETERSBURG – The Upper Township Zoning Council met on May 13 for what all hoped would be a definitive answer as to whether owner Stephen Maloney’s request to redevelop the current Strathmere Motel, located at 513 Commonwealth Ave ., could go ahead.
Four previous meetings drew professional testimony from land use planning experts and input from over 100 Strathmere residents during public comment periods.
This fifth and final meeting gave Maloney’s lawyer, as well as legal counsel to an affected and opposed neighbor, the opportunity to make final arguments.
Zoning board expert Tiffany Morrissey set the stage to kick off the meeting with âpositive and negative checklist itemsâ that she described for the council’s factual findings.
In the end, the council voted, with three yeses and four noes, to deny Maloney’s request to continue with the project.
Morrissey explained to the seven board members and the many people who virtually attended the meeting that the main issue before the decision makers was to find a balance between the interests of the community and the owner’s desire to build the new hotel. .
“Before you are concepts of what the general well-being and improvement of the whole community is and how these fit into the overall outline of the township master plan,” explained Morrissey. âIs there any substantial harm or degradation, and what are the benefits of this proposal regarding flood standards, for example, and the transient nature of the hotel itself? Before you is a tremendous job of assessing the credibility and evidence of witnesses, “she continued.
Counsel for an opposing neighbor provided graphic photographs supporting the vehement resistance to Maloney’s proposed hotel and the request for height and signage waivers.
“The quality of life in the village of Strathmere will be seriously and negatively affected if this massive building becomes a reality,” he said, showing photos of sunsets that would be obstructed.
“The applicant wishes to cash without consideration for the neighbors with a project that drastically and negatively affects the quality of life, the air, natural vegetation, parking, congestion and safety problems related to the circulation of vehicles d ’emergency. This project just does not match the village character of Strathmere, âhe concluded.
Maloney’s lawyer presented the advantages of the proposed hotel.
âLand use is prospective from today to 50 years and beyond, which means council must consider the benefits of replacing an existing dilapidated structure which is an eyesore that cannot be renovated by a building. modern and elegant.
âAs currently zoned, a restaurant is ok, which would attract a lot more people every day, so why not this project? He asked.
âThe project will be on the main thoroughfare of Strathmere, it is of a reasonable size – this structure is smaller than a house that could be installed there,â he continued, showing more than 40 photographs of oversized houses that , he said, oppose residents called “cottages” but were “fear tactics designed to protect what they have but don’t want anyone else to have it.”
Council members presented their findings based on presentations from the previous four meetings by expert witnesses, lawyers and the 107 people who spoke during the public comments.
The three pro-project board members noted the current pre-existing use of the site as a motel, that there would be an attractive building design, with generous landscaped buffers, and that overall the use proposed as a hotel would provide an attractive amenity to Strathmere as a seaside resort and tourist destination.
All four members who voted no, thereby rejecting the request, were uniformly critical of the negative effects this type of hotel and the building itself would have on the tranquil atmosphere of Strathmere.
They reiterated the many arguments made during neighbors’ deliberations that the project simply did not support what Strathmere represents as a quiet historic village and did not advance the general interest of the community for the desired exemptions to be made. approved.
All participants expressed their appreciation for the meticulous and civil content of the meetings conducted by the Board of Directors, whose members are all volunteers.
After making the decision to deny the claim, Maloney’s attorney said he and his client were not yet sure whether to appeal the outcome.