Ortley Beach Residents Concerned about Changing Landscape
Some Ortley Beach residents are concerned about the way the community is reshaping in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, following recent variance approvals by the Toms River Township Zoning Board of Adjustment for larger and two-family homes.
Paul Jeffrey, President of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association, voiced his concerns to the Toms River Township Council, telling the governing body he was "aghast and dismayed" by the Zoning Board's approvals in January of three, two-family variance applications for no special reason, despite residents' objections.
Jeffrey pointed out the FAR (Floor Area Ratio) ordinance the Township Council and Township Planning Board worked so hard to put in place last year, that limits the size of homes and the number of homes that can be switched from a single family to a two-family home, is being ignored. He also suggested some of the Zoning Board members be removed.
"By ignoring those ordinances and providing the variances, many of which by the way are applied for by builders and developers, they're changing the whole context of Ortley Beach into much, much larger homes, a lot of which will be rentals, and that's not the community we had in the past and it's not the community we want in the future," said Jeffrey.
Jeffrey said there's fear empty lots now will be advertised to builders and developers to construct two-family homes since a few of them have already been approved.
Jeffrey said he asked Zoning Board specific questions about why they thought they knew better than the Township Planning Board or Township Council in approving the variances.
"And they were advised by the Planning Board Attorney not to comment," claimed Jeffrey. He said he has not received an explanation. Several calls placed by Townsquare Media News to attorney Kim Pascarella for comments on the issue have not been returned.
Jeffrey explained the two, Floor Area Ratio variances and three, two-family applications approved by the Zoning Board.
"The Floor Area Ratio is a new ordinance put in place that limits a total amount of floor space relative to the size of the lot and it’s to prevent a three story home from being built up and out to the full limits of the lot, which would be a giant square box," he said. "You can go up two stories or you can go three with a smaller house on the property, but it prevents a monstrous three-story, towering house on a lot."
Jeffrey said Ortley residents can hire an attorney to appeal the Zoning Board's decision, but added it's unlikely a judge would reverse the decision. He said the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association doesn't have the funds to take on such a challenge.