Proposed Morrison’s Project Will Bring Families Together in a Place of Grandeur

Oct 09, 2019

To the Editor:

With my mother, Bonnie, I am writing this letter for many reasons, but first and foremost my family’s love of Long Beach Island. My mother’s family was from Camden and camped on LBI beaches in the 1920s. My father’s family was from Philadelphia and began buying property and building houses at the turn of the century. A few of those homes are still standing in Beach Haven Crest.

My grandparents made LBI their home in 1946, raising their family in Brant Beach. My grandfather was chief of police and died while attempting to rescue residents from Holgate during “The Great March Storm of 1962.” My family has seen the transformation of Long Beach Island. We have accepted and adapted to the many changes.

The intent of this letter is to both support and clear up many inaccuracies regarding the Morrison’s Marina project in Beach Haven. We have known the Enos and Kleber families for over 50 years. Their relatives founded Morrison’s in 1946. After 73 years it was a difficult decision, but it’s now time to retire. Jane Enos and her family have hand picked their intended successor, Chris Vernon, with the best interests of their family, employees and the borough of Beach Haven in mind.

We’ve also known four generations of the Vernon family for almost 40 years. Chris and his wife, Eileen, are living the American dream. They are hard working and successful while raising six wonderful kids, instilling the values and importance of faith and family. Chris is not the typical developer. He is conscientious and concerned about aesthetics, the environment, and how his projects will impact the community.

His latest project, Hotel LBI, is breathtaking as you approach Ship Bottom. It appears like a crown jewel, replacing an outdated motel. Yes, it is big, but not nearly as large as the Baldwin and Engleside hotels of yesteryear. It represents the future and should remind us that we are still a resort community that needs to cater to our visitors and their expectations in 2019.

Unfortunately, there are many inaccurate rumors swirling around the Morrison’s project. It is absolutely necessary to clarify and correct some misleading points of view. There is not a banquet hall included in the plans. The restaurant, mezzanine and rooftop are expected to have a maximum occupancy of 600 people. Fire code will not allow 1,200 people. This has been one of the latest rumors to surface.

It was also suggested Mr. Vernon will diminish or close the 137-slip marina. The state Department of Environmental Protection has stipulated the marina must remain in operation as part of his approval. Over the years we’ve lost so many full-service marinas for condo and housing development: The Dock, Stilts, Snuggery and Shelter Harbor, to name just a few.  The new project will continue to operate a fuel dock, ship’s store, travel lift, and enclosed repair facility. This is a necessity for Beach Haven and truly commendable.

The new and improved Morrison’s is going to include two large public access areas along the bayfront. The public will be able to get closer to the water than previously allowed. Mr. Vernon is truly hoping to partner with the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club and the borough to provide community events along these promenades. This will be a great asset to the Beach Haven waterfront.

Parking seems to be the number one concern on everyone’s mind. As the project is proposed, 177 parking spaces are required. Mr. Vernon has 249 spaces planned. And if valet parking is utilized, that figure will rise to 399 parking spots. In addition, there are 63 additional public spaces that will be created along Pennsylvania Avenue and Second Street. This will create up to 462 parking spaces, the largest amount of combined parking in Beach Haven.

There are three restaurants in the vicinity of Morrison’s that have all been granted various variances and site plan approvals with absurdly inadequate parking. The new Morrison’s project is going to improve the congested parking situation created by many non-conforming adjacent structures.

The state, fire marshal, public utilities, building code officials and our very competent municipal engineer will not allow this complex to be constructed if it is going to affect the infrastructure of the borough. Stormwater management will be a requirement for approval.

I’m hoping the Beach Haven Historic Preservation Advisory Committee will embrace the project. Although it is not included in an HPAC-specified zone, Mr. Vernon would welcome their input. He wants to create a place that will bring back the grandeur of the magnificent hotels that Beach Haven was famous for at the turn of the century.

The Vernon, Enos and Kleber families are hoping to create a place for locals and visitors, boaters and fishermen to mix and mingle. A place for everyone to relax, enjoy our amazing sunsets, stroll along a pier reminiscent of an old boardwalk, dine on great food, have a refreshing cocktail, and maybe spend the night. Please keep an open mind and think about all the wonderful benefits it will bring to our “Magic Island.”

Jim Leonetti

North Beach Haven













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