Listen to podcast: With a finite amount of land along the shores of Margate, it’s easy to see why homeowners do everything they can to maximize their little slice of paradise. Too often, zoning rules are bent, blatantly ignored or misunderstood.
Notes and audio clips from recent Margate Planning Board meeting of July 28:
Homeowner scolded for pavers by Planning Board. Ratting out neighbor for alleged, illegal kitchen in garage. Owner knew of land use violation. Real Estate lawyer wife not happy with hubby. 30% of property must have vegetation/natural grass.
Margate City vs homeowners looking to maximize their Downbeach property.
How big of a porch do you really need?
3rd floor decks in back? Privacy issues. How many really want them? Best to ask for variance, says zoning officer.
Margate Planning Chairman Rich Patterson on 3rd floor, rear decks: Do they want to see sunsets or see Mike (Cristaldi) naked?
Zoning Officer Roger McLarnon not in favor of 3rd floor decks in rear of house. Some on Planning Board see decks as ‘safe haven’ in case of fire. Listen:
Still under consideration: 3rd floor decks anywhere. No longer just for water front properties. Maybe you get a choice; front or back? For now, most homeowners granted variance for their proposed 3rd floor deck.
So called ‘Lighthouse’ properties in Margate.
Tall, thin homes built on small lots. Contributes to parking issues, unwanted density. Small lots with bigger homes: we end up with ‘lighthouses’
Consider: If Margate lots are less than 40 ft wide…no 3rd floor.
We can’t stop people from breaking the law. More illegal conversions. Homeowners must sign non-conversion agreements. More inspections coming.
6 Bedrooms and 5 bathrooms are now common in new construction. Elevators. Pools. 3rd floor decks. Less set back from property line. Generally, builders and real estate execs prefer larger homes with plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms.
FAR, Floor To Area Ratio: total sq footage of livable space. Add up sq ft of all floors. How does Margate slow trend of high number of bedrooms?
Zoning Officer Roger McLarnon: Tight little neighborhoods. Seems like every new house has 5-6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.
Margate Planning & Zoning Chief Rich Patterson: Crazy in all neighborhoods. We’re currently rewarding smaller lots with greater lot coverage. That’s wrong.
NOTE: Front yard fences are still prohibited. Non-compliant fencing still a problem.
Zoning Officer, Roger McLarnon: Consider revising building coverage in all city wide, single family zones.
Homeowners pushing for front yard fencing, wider curb-cuts for driveways, less vegetation to maintain, build tall on smaller lot sizes and frontages.
Curb cuts for off-street parking. Properties are permitted a 10 ft maximum. Steve Jasecki and Mike Cristaldi were the only Margate Planning Board members in attendance that wanted a 12 ft curb cut for driveways. They lost on that vote. Listen:
NOTE: 75% of Downbeach home owners (tax base) have virtually no influence on elected officials in Margate, Ventnor or Longport. This majority of 2nd homeowners do not vote in South Jersey. Many vote in taxpayer friendly Florida where they keep their primary residence.
Just a few years ago, the Margate Planning Board, hand-selected by Mayor Michael Becker, was tasked to attract more year-round residency and retail. Affordable housing was also on a short list of ‘nice to haves’.
Some beach towns have built private mini-mansions on every scenic parcel. Hard to see water. No place to drop a line and fish. Can’t easily launch a boat on a public dock. Why are Jersey shore towns building on every square inch of their city?