It was a well-attended Jan 11, 2023 Ventnor Planning Board meeting about the Plaza Shopping Center. It highlighted the importance of having greater transparency in city govt.
This public forum about Ventnor Plaza should have happened months ago. Quite informative. Eye opening. Lively. Sometimes testy and spirited. LISTEN to CLIPS from meeting >
Resident: I just have a question about the article that was in Downbeach Buzz about non-notification to residents. Could you guys clear that up?
Planning Board Solicitor Leo Manos: Anytime you do a land use application, the applicant has to request from the tax office, a list of properties within 200 feet. The tax office generates that list, and provides it to the applicant. The law states that the applicants are entitled to rely on that list.
Glitch may have been there longer, according to Manos.
There was glitch in the electronic program. Why did it happen? I don’t know.
Ironically, the meeting was not live-streamed on ZOOM for remote participation. A sub-par microphone set-up was used for public comment. Much of the recording was distorted and unlistenable. Difficult to find on the Ventnor City Municipal website.
Ventnor Plaza will soon be home to an indoor pickleball facility called Pickle Juice, a Burger King, seafood eatery PJ Buckets, Starbucks and maybe a craft brewery.
Commissioner Lance Landgraf: Mark Greco (developer) has made an effort to meet and he’s done what he can do. You’re not all going to be happy. But that roadway is going to be improved. We had four public hearings on that redevelopment plan.
Neighbors to Ventnor Commissioner Landgraf: when you call this an ‘informal’ meeting, it’s an insult to us. I think a lot of the residents are unhappy right now, because you guys dropped the ball. We didn’t hear about this until a reporter came.
Commish Lance Landgraf: ‘Mr. Greco has a valid approval’.
Regarding notification of residents of the 2019 redevelopment plan, Landgraf said: only a city-wide notice was required.
Press of Atlantic City newspaper, City website & social media does not adequately inform city residents. They might be legal, but those communications platforms are severely limited in reach and effectiveness.
Mainland Current newspaper is not helpful. Downbeach Current is no longer published. Press of Atlantic City has dramatically less circulation than before.
Best option to inform public? Allow people to subscribe to city legal notices via email. No cost. No brainer.
How can Ventnor and other Downbeach towns better communicate with residents? Turn ZOOM web-conference program back on. Allow remote participation to all key meetings. See Atlantic County Commissioners for best practices.
NOTE: Planning Board Meeting Minutes often take a month or two to be published and shared with public. This keeps residents in the dark for too long after City addresses major discussion, resolutions and ordinances.
Why do Margate, Ventnor and Longport refuse to live stream and record video of all of their meetings? Council/Commission. Board of Education. Planning & Zoning. Cost and complication of tech is no longer an issue. Some prefer fewer eyes on what they’re up to. With your tax dollars.
Landgraf does this stuff for a living as CRDA’s Planning Director. Landgraf feels bad about it but… Municipal land use law allows applicants to rely on that (sometimes wrong) data.
Neighbor: Huge mistake. Oct 24 notifications not sent properly. You sent out letters to 11. Unfortunately, the rest of us did not receive anything.
The 200 ft neighbor list is generated by the Ventnor tax office.
We were told the computer printed out 11 addresses, not 33. The computer only will spit out what gets inputted. Someone input those addresses. I find it hard to believe that qualified people from the tax office did not list us. Because they have no problem finding us to send tax and water bills. I find this whole thing suspect, to say the least.
Unknown why Ventnor Mayor Beth Holtzman did not attend meeting. (Holtzman hand selects Planning Board members)
We appreciate (Plaza developer) Mr. Greco in 99% of what he’s doing. It’s the City Administration that’s the problem.Ventnor Residents
Why don’t you have that restaurant down the other end you have the building next door to the wall of the post office. That has a 360 degree view of the Atlantic City skyline. What better place to put a restaurant with a bar?
Victoria Ave resident: Huge mistake made by City of Ventnor. We have legal right to be heard. The law and ordinance of the city require a recertification to avoid any possible future legal challenges.
Only 30 ft of guard rail? We really need at least 400+ ft.
Why not move brewery / restaurant / rental facility to the other end of plaza, near the Post Office. Site of old Chinese buffet?
Developer Greco: Our intention is to completely redo property. We’re investing huge sums of money. Every inch of property is getting redone. Doesn’t make sense to pour money in and then have storm water just destroy it. There’s habitual vacancy in this shopping center.
We immediately began with extending leases of all large tenants. Acme, AutoZone, Dollar Tree, the liquor store. All long term tenants, we extended the life of their leases.
Greco: We understood that neighbors weren’t happy that the way things fell out. We notified who we thought we were supposed to. Who the city told us to. We did what we thought was right.
Most people know that area. Know what’s in 200 feet of the mall. Know there are houses there. Residents. So if you have been up on Little Rock, you know there’s more than 11 houses. Maybe somebody should have caught that.
Elevation of ‘pad’ sites in order to accommodate FEMA requirements. Can’t displace flood water. Plaza flooding can happen when bay pushes up thru pipes/inlets, flooding the parking lot.
Construction Official / Margate resident Roger McLarnon: (to avoid flooding) homeowners may have to grade/slope their backyard properties towards street.
Majority of Downbeach taxpayers are non-voting 2nd homeowners. Margate, Ventnor & Longport do very little to effectively communicate with that part of their tax base.Ventnor-Plaza-Redevelopment-Plan-10-25-19