BERKELEY – A boat yard in a residential area is mostly playing by the new rules created for it, township officials said, although residents are still unhappy with their neighbor.
NJ Outboard had started using a large residential plot of land for boat storage last year. They installed three-story boat racks and had staff moving boats in and out of there throughout the season.
The area is in the woods between Scott Drive and Browning Avenue, east of Route 9. They were using the intersection near the Wawa gas station and Sylvan Lakes Boulevard to move boats.
Neighbors living behind the property, in the Scott Estates neighborhood, had been coming to the Township Council meetings to protest it. They felt they weren’t get a fair shake because NJ Outboard had donated a boat to the township in the past.
They said NJ Outboard cut down trees, buried some of them on the property, built unsteady racks over them, and used fill that hasn’t been tested. All of this was done without township or environmental permits.
The township fined them. NJ Outboard then applied to the Zoning Board to allow them to operate as they have been, just legally this time.
Residents had said the fines were a slap on the wrist after allowing them to profit off the land all season.
Currently, boats are on racks, wrapped and stored for winter.
The storage of boats is not a violation now, Berkeley Business Administrator John Camera explained. The Zoning Board gave them a variance to allow that.
A variance in this case is when a property owner is granted the ability to use the property in a way that the township doesn’t normally allow (at least not in that location).
“They have actually complied with everything in the resolution other than the fact that they only removed one row of boat racks rather than two,” Camera said on January 19. “They fenced in the property as required, they removed contaminated soils and are currently working with our engineers and (the Ocean County Soil Conservation District) to stabilize the runoffs of water and soil, and they removed the row of boat racks that ran along Browning Avenue.
“When I became aware that they had not complied with the removal of the other boat rack, I informed our Code Enforcement Officer so that he could issue a summons,” he said.
At a Zoning Board meeting last year, the owner of NJ Outboard said through his attorney that he had a reputable contractor who assured him that everything was being done above board. He also said he had a stroke earlier and did not remember what was done.
Ultimately, the Zoning Board allowed NJ Outboard to continue to use the land as a boat yard while they came up with a better plan to use the property. When the plan is finalized, they’ll have to have it approved, which is a public process.
Zoning Board officials had said back then that if they didn’t allow the storage, then the owner could appeal it to a court and the township would lose all jurisdiction.