By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Asbury Park developer Pat Fasano used the public portion of this week’s Planning Board meeting to voice his disappointment with city procedures that, he says, are delaying several projects of his.
Following an open discussion it was agreed a meeting would be scheduled with the goal of hiring one person, as an expediter, to move the permit process along in the city from start to finish.
Fasano said several of his projects have been approved but has had trouble securing permits. He brought drawings of four of his approved projects, but highlighted the proposed Dollar Tree store and residential units planned on Main Street between Third and Fourth avenues.
He began by reminding the board that former Planner Donald Sammet, who resigned in 2015, was very supportive of the plan before he left the city. Sammet,Fasano said, thought the project was “great” but after he left the application died.
Fasano changed his plans, moving the retail Dollar Tree to the other end of the block and designing plans for a ground floor retail stores with upper level residential units at the Fourth Avenue corner, which the board approved nine months ago.
He said he took pains to make sure the exterior did not look like a typical Dollar Tree and said he believed the store would unite the east and west sides of town, with residents of both being able to shop for day to day items there.
“It’s been a year and I’m not out of compliance,” he said, referring to the fact that he still does not have all the permits needed.
Fasano also said he’s had calls from the Dollar Tree corporation wondering why the project hasn’t begun. He said he was told if the project is not finished by December 1, there will be a $1000 per day penalty imposed.
Fasano then waved four review letters from the city.
“Who has time like that, give me a permit and let me build,” he said. “Make me a priority…I’m your neighbor, not iStar.”
Zoning Officer Barbara Van Wagoner, referring to Fasano’s projects, said “there’s a couple of issues with some of these.”
She explained that she has generally been in charge of making sure developer’s plans are in compliance with what the board has approved.
“In the past it was me, but we have a lot of development now…a lot of layers have been added,” she said.
Van Wagner also said, “There is a process and it takes time, you can’t bypass procedure,.”
She said often the plans do not adhere exactly to what the board had previously approved.
“The mechanicals have to match the site plans,” she said.
Board Member Yvonne Clayton, who is also a City Councilwoman, asked if there is a project manager in charge of getting each project from beginning to end.
Board Attorney Jack Serpico told the board they need an expediter or ombudsman.
“One individual to get all the various departments moving in the same direction,” he said.
Fasano asserted that the issues causing him to be noncompliant are not substantial.
“The Dollar Tree was approved a year ago. Give me a full list. Everybody is nice but tick tock, tick tock. It’s painful,” he said. “Let’s build up Asbury Park and not just be bars, that’s what we are. People want to live here.”
Another project Fasano mentioned is a new building at Third Avenue and Memorial Drive that will be the new home of Habitat for Humanity. That project is stalled.
He also said he purchased 40 feet of land next to the property for parking and although he has met with city officials to move that project along, the permit process is not complete.
“I’m waiting for permits,” he said, and urged the board to be more “developer friendly.”
Serpico suggested the board hire someone to “push the ball from beginning to end….whip it along.”
“Yes, I have no one,” Fasano said.
Mayor John Moor called for a meeting with all the related city officials and the city manager to discuss creating an expediter position.