BRICK – Professionals hired by Vilamoura, LLC continued to make their case for the construction of a 42,011-square-foot banquet hall and restaurant during a third hearing before the Board of Adjustment.
Critics have stated that the proposed building would be too large for the area.
Attorney John Jackson called his first professional, architect Daniel Governale to give examples of other “iconic structures of significant height that do not have a negative impact on the surrounding community,” to which opposing attorney Ron Gasiorowski objected.
Gasiorowski, one of two attorneys hired by the borough of Mantoloking (the other is Robin LaBue) to oppose the building, said comparing the proposed project to other tall buildings, such as the Bay Head Yacht Club, the Essex and Sussex in Spring Lake, and the River’s Edge in Point Pleasant, had “no relevance, and no impact,” to the application. “We don’t even know if (the other tall structures) are conforming,” he said.
Board of Adjustment attorney Ronald Cucchiaro allowed the testimony to continue.
“Let’s hear what they have to say,” he said. “There might be some things the board can take into consideration.”
Governale said the Bay Head Yacht Club is 66 feet tall to the uppermost chimney, and its footprint is 80 feet by 220 feet.
By comparison, the footprint of the proposed banquet hall/restaurant is 90 feet by 190 feet, and 78 feet above grade, he said.
When the nearby Mantoloking Bridge is in the open position, the top of the bridge measures 74 feet, Governale said.
Oceanfront homes in Mantoloking that are built on three or more conforming lots may build to a height of 58 feet above grade, or 64 feet above sea level, he said. For two conforming lots, a height of 52 feet above grade is allowed, he added.
Governale said a modification to the building plan had been made in order to protect adjoining neighbors from “noise leaking out” when bands are playing.
The outside wall would have an STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating of at least 50, and a vestibule had been added for outside the ballroom to prevent a “blast of sound” every time the door opens, he said.
When opposing attorney for Save Barnegat Bay Michele R. Donato questioned the specifics of what an STC rating is, Jackson conferred with his clients and agreed to bring an acoustic expert to the next hearing.
After a 10-minute break, Jackson presented traffic expert engineer Justin Taylor, who had performed a traffic analysis for the site itself and for the surrounding roadways.
He said that a new traffic light that includes a left-turn lane into the banquet hall/restaurant facility and into Traders Cove Marina is integral to the plan. “The site won’t function without it,” he added.
The light would only turn red when someone was trying to exit Traders Cove Marina or the site of the proposed banquet hall/restaurant. If there is no demand, the light could stay green all day in the winter for cars traveling on Mantoloking Road, Taylor said.
“We were able to do a minor four-foot widening along our frontage to allow a left turn lane going into the site,” he said.
There would be a “slight change” from the site’s current driveway in order to accommodate the driveway going into Traders Cove Marina. They would be directly across the roadway from each other, he said.
A variance would be needed to allow for 9’x18’ traffic spaces instead of the required 10’x18’ spaces on the property, he said. All parking space aisles would have the required 25’ alley except for the southwest corner of the site which has been set aside for valet parking, where cars would be double- and triple-stacked.
Taylor said the surrounding roadway capacity can handle the additional traffic.
Using traffic counts taken during peak hours – a Saturday in the summer of 2018 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. – the site generated an overall traffic delay at the light at the foot of the bridge in Mantoloking of 37 seconds. This comment elicited laughter from some members of the audience.
“There is a minor increase in the delay, and it is an acceptable increase in the delay,” Taylor added.
The traffic expert said that delays caused by an open bridge “had not been directly contemplated into the analysis.”
The final witness during the special hearing was one of Vilamoura LLC managing members Joe Maurillo.
He said the banquet hall/restaurant would be working under one LLC since there is one liquor license.
“It’s going to be very high end, the best of the best,” Maurillo said.
Vilamoura’s professionals will be cross-examined by opposing attorneys after their testimony has been completed. Afterwards, there would be public comment.
The next hearing will be on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.