Belmar Works to Update Redevelopment Plan

By Lauren Wanko

A redevelopment plan that restricts development. That’s the problem with Belmar’s current plan, says Mayor Matt Doherty. So the Jersey Shore town is getting rid of it and crafting a new one.

“We’re gonna look to design a new plan that’s less restrictive and more flexible for property owners, business owners and developers,” Doherty said.

Mayor Doherty calls the current plan a failure.

“The current redevelopment plan was designed about 10 years ago predicated on a master redeveloper using eminent domain to block together parcels of land and businesses,” he said.

And design the buildings to look like a New England fisherman village. Doherty says none of that panned out. Plus, under the current plan, it can take 90 to 100 days to move forward on any project — like this one, which took a number of amendments to the current plan to get started. Crews are working on a three-story building, which will eventually house restaurants, residential and retail space. And this dilapidated structure is about to be demoed, replaced with a three-story residential and retail building.

“One of the ways we’re gonna keep a lid on taxes for residential properties moving forward is to expand the commercial tax base in Belmar,” Doherty said.

Federico’s Pizza owner David Morin is one of 11 members on the new Redevelopment Advisory Committee, comprised of Belmar residents and business owners.

“New is always good. More ideas, better ideas. Things are always changing,” Morin said.

The 11-member advisory board is scheduled to meet later this month for the first time. They’re tasked with creating a report based on their interviews with engineers, architects, business owners and the information they gather from other communities doing redevelopment.

The committee will also explore expanding the redevelopment district, which now runs from 8th to 5th avenues and Main Street to Route 35. The new redevelopment plan is voluntary.

“If you’re a small business owner and you don’t want to be a part of it, that’s fine. If you are a small business owner that wants to be part of the redevelopment, we want to work with you, partner you with a developer,” Doherty said.

Mayor Doherty hopes to roll out the new plan by January 2015.