PETERSBURG – The Upper Township Zoning Board Feb.11 continued its deliberations regarding the application by Stephen Maloney for preliminary and final site plan approval, a use variance for the expansion of a non-conforming use and a variance for the height of the structure and possible bulk variances to construct a 15-unit hotel, at 513 Commonwealth Ave., in Strathmere.
The Zoning Board has had this project before it for several months, given the complexity of the various issues at hand and the numerous residents in opposition to the project, who have been waiting for their turn to speak during public comment opportunities.
Before opening the Feb. 11 meeting to public comment, Maloney and his legal counsel said they were in attendance and would seek to closely listen to all input.
With 118 affected and interested citizens registered to comment, Zoning Board Chairman Paul Casaccio said, “At five minutes at least per each comment, all-in would total over 10 hours, so I ask that each person commenting try to avoid repeating previous commentaries.”
Comments were universally unanimous in their opposition to the proposed project and reflected the numerous negative perspectives among residents: Such “overbuilding” would change Strathmere’s small-town atmosphere, which, according to many, was the precise goal why they moved to the area; it would cause a serious and detrimental environmental impact, with more concrete instead of grass, along with noise, light and trash pollution and impeded sunset views; harmful impact on property values; unreasonable and dangerous burdens on parking and septic infrastructure; and safety issues with increased numbers of drivers, including those distracted during summer.
The meeting adjourned at 10 p.m., after nearly three-and-a-half hours of public testimony. With not even half on the list having the opportunity to speak, the next Zoning Board meeting, March 11, will continue with the remaining 58 people. Whether the board will render a decision at that time was not stated.
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