By ED SALVAS
The Mon., Nov. 27 meeting of the Ocean Township Planning Board drew a near capacity crowd anticipating the board’s review of an ordinance amending the township Master Plan which would allow for the development of a large property at Route 35 and Deal Road. The meeting was held in the large meeting room because of the anticipated large audience.
The property in question, 28 acres including some designated wetlands, is the last remaining privately owned land on Route 35 where the owner, Paramount Realty, proposes building a 112-room Marriott Hotel and a Wawa gas station and convenience store and 70 upscale townhouses.
The Planning Board heard a report from it’s planner, James W. Higgins Associates, represented by Allison Coffin, which said that the proposed zoning change is consistent with the intent and purpose of the township Master Plan. The area was never designated for open space or recreation. It was also pointed out by Planning Board Chairman John Verrilli that no specific plans have been presented for consideration.
Many people in the audience wanted to address the board on the issue but were told at the start of the meeting by Planning Board Attorney Sanford Brown that no public comment was permitted as this was strictly an administrative review.
One resident, Dan Kowsalick of Melville Street, stepped to the microphone demanding to be allowed to speak and others in the audience began shouting back at the board which then voted to accept the planner’s report and adjourned the meeting. Nodan Schneider, also a resident of Melville Street, said after the meeting that the report failed to mention the impact this development could have on his property which borders the tract.
Deal Road resident Jackie Wenzel said she is especially concerned about the loss of many trees on the heavily wooded property, disrupting the peace and quiet of Deal Road. She also noted that township voters recently passed a municipal Open Space Tax meant to preserve undeveloped land. Wenzel has even posted a sign on her property urging people to attend the next Township Council meeting where they will have an opportunity to speak. The next meeting is Dec. 7 but an agenda has not been set. Planning Board member Robert Acerra, who is also the township’s Deputy Mayor, rescued himself from the discussion and did not vote.