‘Meet and Greet’ Planned With Potential Developer of Morrison’s Site

Mar 06, 2019
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

The developer of a proposed restaurant and a 102-room hotel in Beach Haven invites the public for a project meet and greet on Saturday, March 30, beginning at 11 a.m. at Bonnet Island Estate in Stafford Township.

Bonnet Island Estate is one of several area properties owned by Christopher Vernon, who has appeared before the Beach Haven Borough Council to discuss plans for the project. Vernon's company, Mercer Management, is also the developer and owner of the Mallard Island Yacht Club, the Mainland/Holiday Inn complex and Hotel LBI, currently under construction in Ship Bottom at the former site of the Stateroom and, before that, the Quarterdeck Inn.

“After attending many open meetings with the neighbors of Beach Haven and the borough, our team has carefully reviewed the requests and suggestions of the community,” said the company in a statement. “We met some amazing folks that have wonderful ideas on how to create a very special design for the Beach Haven Maritime District. Our hopes are to bring this family friendly, fun focused plan to fruition in the next few years. Our focus is and has always been warm hospitality in great neighborhoods. We are delighted to continue to work with the community to enhance the Maritime District.”

Vernon said the complex would not exceed the zoning ordinance height limit of 35 feet. He offered no timetable for when he would bring the project to the land use board, or any plans on when he hoped to begin construction and open.

Concerning conceptual project details, he said the boat slips, fuel and services will all remain at the marina, which has continued to operate after a fire that destroyed the restaurant in 2005.

“We will be leasing the slips as Morrison’s has done in the past,” he said. “We hope to add some shared amenities for the marina guests and hotel guests. The marina and hotel will have 24-hour security.”

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 grade 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. 

“Along the bulkhead of the restaurant we plan on a public access walk as well,” he said. “Our goal is to make the site walk friendly, bike friendly, and options for dock and dine guests.”

The complex would provide 342 parking spaces, 64 more than the required number of 278.

“I don’t think you will see anything built there for the next year or two,” said Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis. “He (Vernon) still needs CAFRA permits, and that can be a lengthy process. We’re glad that he has taken time to reach out to us and the community.”

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 and drainage issues.  —E.E.





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