The Belmar Planning Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to recommend only minor changes to the boardwalk redevelopment plan that includes construction of contested, two-story pavilions.
The board at a special meeting found that the plan, which calls for the construction of pavilions at 5th and 10th avenues to replace structures wiped out by Hurricane Sandy, was in substantial compliance with the borough’s Master Plan, but that some language in the description should be altered.
The board was tasked by the Borough Council to review the plan and make its non-binding recommendations to the governing body, which could choose to adopt, in part or in whole, the panel’s suggestions before introducing the plan at a future meeting.
Tuesday’s hearing came as a local citizens group filed a pair of lawsuits targeting the redevelopment plan. Let the Citizens Decide in one lawsuit wants to put the proposed $7.1 million plan up for a vote on the November ballot. In the second, the group wants the court to weigh in on the legality of the borough’s plan to pay for the construction with its Beach Utility fund and a hike in beach access fees. Mayor Matt Doherty has called the lawsuits “frivolous.”
“It makes Belmar a better place,’’ Councilman Brian Magovern, who also sits on the board, said prior to the panel’s vote.
The board recommended changes to include Bicycle sales and rental as permitted uses in the zone, the inclusion of language to include bike pathways and bike racks and public parking -- all as points of clarification, rather than new additions to the plan.
The recommendations will now go to the Borough Council for review. No date was set Tuesday.
Not all the in the audience of about 30 agreed with Magovern's assessment of the redevelopment plan.
Several people during the two-hour meeting voiced concerns about the cost, the ownership, the placement and the height of the proposed pavilions.
After public outcry, the borough scrapped its original plans to have another two-story pavilion at 8th Avenue, with a rooftop mini-golf facility.
The 10th Avenue pavilion would have lifeguard and other storage on its beach level, with roll-up doors. The boardwalk, or first floor, would house 815 square feet for concessions, and rooms for a police substation, EMS with exam room, and lifeguard office, the plans say.
The Taylor Pavilion is proposed with a second-floor room available for community events as a banquet room. The room will include a kitchen, bathroom and balcony, to accommodate 200 people within the 4,300-square-foot room. The first-floor will have a 1,400 square-foot concession space, badge sales, seniors’ club storage, a women’s club kitchen, a coat-room and lobby, according to the plans.
Resident David Schneck, who is also running for a council seat in the November election, said he was not against recovery from Hurricane Sandy, but was concerned about the character of the boardwalk.“I have not met one person who has any objection to rebuilding what was there,’’ Schneck, said.