Jersey Shore Town Mulls 82-Foot Tall Banquet Hall

The view from the western side of the Mantoloking Bridge. The proposed banquet hall/restaurant would be to the right of the fuel tanks. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  BRICK – An 82.2-foot-tall, 48,660-square-foot banquet hall and restaurant facility proposed for a site near the southwest corner of the Mantoloking Bridge would be building upward, rather than sprawling outward, for environmental and stormwater management reasons, said the developer’s engineer Joshua Sewald during a Board of Adjustment hearing for the project.

  Professionals gathered for the third time to provide testimony for Vilamoura LLC in an effort to get a height variance for the project. The Board of Adjustment would have to determine whether the marina would be allowed to be built higher than what is currently allowed.

  During the second meeting on July 14, some 10 lawyers and three city planners presented testimony and argued to determine if a Use Variance was needed for the project, since banquet halls are not an approved use in the B-2 Business Zone, but restaurants are an approved use. In the end, the Board voted that the two are the same and a Use Variance would not be required.

  At the most recent meeting, Sewald said that during the last four years, developers have been cleaning up outdated areas of the marina, and have removed many of the old structures and made improvements that is now the site of a “modern, new marina.”

  Half of the 18-acre site is wetlands while the other half is upland, Sewald said. The southern side of the property is for the marina while the northern half is for the planned banquet hall/restaurant facility, he said.

  The closest home, owned by Marion J. Lee, is 400 feet away from the proposed building. Family member, attorney Gerald Darling has been attending the Board of Adjustment meetings to represent the family.

  Sewald said the 115-boat-slip marina would remain in place, and would have a boat lift. Part of the application is for a new pool to be used by marina customers, and a marina support building. The marina/pool section of the property would be fenced off from the banquet hall and restaurant, he said.

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

  The banquet hall/restaurant would have a footprint of 17,000 square feet. The township would require 404 parking spaces, but the proposal includes 547 parking spaces, 202 which would be built on a porous paved surface and the remainder on gravel. Some of the parking spaces would be used for boat storage off-season, the engineer said.

  “So the intent is to go up, for a smaller footprint and less impervious area and have more space on the ground with no buildings?” asked the applicant’s attorney Jack Johnson.

  “Yes, because there would be less of a developmental impact, less paved areas where rainwater can go through,” answered the applicant’s engineer Sewald. “It is a better planning and engineering design.”

  Johnson asked Sewald about other environmental impacts from the proposed development, including lighting impacts.

  The plan calls for 15 LED light posts in the parking lot, which would not spillover onto adjacent property lines, although Sewald said that light could be seen from a distance. He was not clear on how strong the lights would be on the building, when they would be turned off, or if they could be on a timer.

  Board attorney Ronald D. Cucchario asked Sewald about a violation that had been issued to the marina by the DEP in March. The engineer said the violation was for backfilling a wetlands area, and that a meeting is planned that would result in the marina being brought into compliance, he said.

  The plan calls for the widening of Mantoloking Road where there would be a dedicated turn-in lane into the banquet hall. A signalized intersection directly opposite the entrance to Traders Cove Park and Marina is also included in the plan, which would help with traffic concerns, he said.

This rendering shows what Vilamoura, LLC has in mind for the site. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)
This rendering shows what Vilamoura, LLC has in mind for the site. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  The project still needs multiple approvals from BTMUA, CAFRA (the State Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Area Facilities Review Act, which governs construction near bodies of water), the Ocean County Planning Board, Ocean County Engineering, Ocean County Utilities Authority and any other outside agency that has jurisdiction over the site.

  The meeting ended before opposing attorneys representing the Borough of Mantoloking, Save Barnegat Bay and Mantoloking Yacht Club could cross-examine Sewald and other professionals hired by Vilamoura, LLC and before public comment could be heard.

  A special meeting is planned for Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. when Vilamoura LLC would be the only application on the agenda.