Landgraf and Ventnor Planning Board Face Resident Backlash Over Zoning Proposal

st leonards tract association


The Ventnor Planning Board got an earful on Monday, July 30. Residents of St. Leonard’s Tract in Ventnor are not happy that Commissioner Landgraf keeps pushing for controversial ‘spot zoning‘. Mostly are vehemently against spot-zoning in this R-1 zone of Ventnor.

Spot zoning is the application of zoning to a specific parcel or parcels of land within a larger zoned area when the rezoning is usually at odds with a city’s master plan and current zoning restrictions. Spot zoning may be ruled invalid as an “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable treatment” of a limited parcel of land by a local zoning ordinance. While zoning regulates the land use in whole districts, spot zoning makes unjustified exceptions for a parcel or parcels within a district.

The planning board smartly decided to take no action. For now. They’ll take this issue up again, at the Aug. 27 Ventnor Planning Board meeting.

From St. Leonard’s Tract Association Newsletter in reference to proposed zoning changes: -The City of Ventnor is in the process of re-writing the zoning code for the entire City. We should discuss the importance of having the Ventnor City’s zoning ordinances align with the St. Leonard’s Tract deed restrictions. Currently they do not and are less restrictive than our deed restrictions.


The Ventnor Planning Board chairman is Jay Cooke. Both he and Landgraf call the proposed zoning change “de minimus.” Inconsequential, insignificant, negligible, of minor importance, trifling, trivial, unworthy of serious consideration.

According to the St. Leonard’s Association website, original deed restrictions are found in title reports of all St. Leonard’s properties. While many of the original restrictions have since become obsolete and replaced by more modern zoning requirements as part of the Ventnor City master plan, the deed restrictions have protected the nature of St. Leonard’s being a single family neighborhood with large lots for over 90 years.

Ventnor Commissioner Landgraf wants to ‘spot zone’ this historic, boardwalk property.

In addition to his multiple roles in Ventnor, Landgraf is a planner with the CRDA, and consults with the City of Brigantine.

Landgraf Handles Zoning Issues in Atlantic City.

Landgraf claims the lots between Dorset and Derby ave:

  • Sitting idle for 13 years
  • Not conforming with other properties in the district
  • Should be changed to spur development.

The prestigious St. Leonard’s Tract includes large homes on over-sized lots. Most homes were built in the 1920s.

Landgraf tried to push thru Ordinance 2018-023 on MAY 24. Heavy push back from neighbors forced Landgraf to retreat and punt to the Planning Board.

Elected Ventnor officials want to reduce the minimum lot size for oceanfront lots. This would increase density, and would likely contribute to drainage issues in the area.

Residents spoke of many, Ventnor oceanfront lots that have sold within the last year. Proof that smartly-priced parcels will move.

Reducing minimum lot size requirements, would encourage developers to demolish homes on large lots, and squeeze in 2 or more homes on that same piece of land. This would slowly destroy a historic fabric of Ventnor.

Downside to allowing small oceanfront lots: Encourage destruction of unique Ventnor history.

Others residents also stepped up to share their thoughts.

These lots are sitting idle because they’re overpriced, and Ventnor taxes are way too high.

Some purchased extra large lots because they want a buffer zone between neighbors. “We bought expressly because of the zoning it had.”

80-foot lots in Ventnor’s St. Leonard’s Tract are perfect. St. Leonard’s Tract is a jewel of Ventnor.

The history of Ventnor starts in St. Leonard’s Tract.

Architectural significance. Reduce the requirements for building, you encourage demolition of beautiful old homes built by hand.

Developers want to squeeze as many homes into these parcels as they can. Ventnor Commisioner Landgraf wants to help them?

“If we make a change to change the character of that area, it’s changed it forever.”

St. Leonard’s Tract Homeowners Association

  • Anne Corrigan, President
  • Ginny Mordell, Vice President
  • Sherree Santivasi, Secretary
  • Mary Jane Bagnell, Treasurer

Residents say the Planning Board wants rezoning to generate more tax revenue. Cooke & Landgraf are accused of helping current landowners.

If Planning Board & Commissioner Landgraf reduces lot size requirements, it will hurt value of all Ventnor homes.

Residents expressed concerns over safety and traffic in that area. Dorset & Atlantic Ave is one of the most treacherous intersections in Ventnor. Two lanes in each direction, and a too-high speed limit of 35 mph.

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