Beach Haven Hotel Developer Prefers Three-Story Plan

Apr 10, 2019

The developer of the proposed restaurant and a 102-room hotel in Beach Haven at the vacant site of Morrison’s restaurant appears to be leaning to a three-story structure.

During a presentation at the Beach Haven Borough Council meeting Monday, Christopher Vernon said the three-story building would have a maximum height of 48 feet, which he said is the same height as the borough hall. He would also renovate the Ship’s Store building and add a welcome garden with dedicated access to the charter boats.

“By going three stories, I have more room to add gardens and other amenities,” said Vernon. “In talking with people in town, many want to have more open space room, so this seems to be the best way for us to go.”

He said the hotel would have a guest shuttle for the beach and activities in the area, and would also have guest parking on the ground level of the hotel. On the north bulkhead, he is planning to add a wharf bar and public access for fishing, crabbing and sunset watching.

The second-story concept, however, would stay within the 35-foot height requirements in the marine  commercial zone.

Vernon is the developer and owner of Bonnet Island Estate, Mallard Island Yacht Club, the Mainland/Holiday Inn complex and Hotel LBI, currently under construction in Ship Bottom at the former site of the State Room and, before that, the Quarter Deck Inn.

“But I have always thought of Beach Haven as a very special place, and my hope is to bring this family-friendly, fun-focused plan here within the next few years,” he said.

During previous presentations, residents raised questions about its impact on infrastructure and traffic. It was for this reason neighbors of the property have filed suit to block the project as they seek to overturn an ordinance amendment that modified the borough maritime district redevelopment plan. They cite pedestrian safety, traffic and drainage issues.

But at the April 8 meeting, public comments were much more favorable.

Carl Sheppard, secretary of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association, said the building’s design is “what Beach Haven used to look like years ago.”

“We’re glad that you are keeping the Ship’s Store open and that you are also allowing for more open space and access,” he said. “It’s important to have access for charter boats because they can go out during all hours of the night.”

“Chris (Vernon) has been very sensitive to what people in town want,” said resident David Turner. “I think he is doing a wonderful thing here and it should be supported.”

Resident Colleen Lambert reiterated her concern about the building’s height and its ramifications for the future.

“If you get a 48-foot-high building, then the next developer might want 50 feet,” she said. “But other than my height concerns, I think it is a great plan.”

— Eric Englund


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