PODCAST: Margate Commissioners Endure Public Comments Over Hotel Zoning Plans

PODCAST: Margate Commissioners Endure Heated Public Comments Over Hotel Zoning Plans. Sept 6, 2018:

By 1981, Margate decided to ban all hotels and motels. The short-term room rentals were considered detrimental to community. Sounded like a good idea at the time. New construction on relatively tight lots. Tax-ratables soared. Margate quickly turned into a first class Real Estate town. Discarded most of it’s modest, fishing village roots.

Jump ahead 40 years. Margate, like other Jersey Shore towns, has evolved into a beach community solely dependent on vacation home-owners and part-time residents. An economy that relies on 15 weeks of summer tourism per year.

The upside: premium home values and growing ‘ratables’ keep taxes relatively flat. Approx 75 building permits were granted in the last 12 months. Most projects added millions to the Margate general fund. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you know the downside.

Margate Planning Zoning Hotel Overlay Zone


With approx 70% of Margate homeowners considered part-time residents, small business sees reduced customer traffic during mid-week. Many part-time residents use their Margate home, only on the weekends. Monday thru Thursday is relatively quiet throughout the Summer, compared to the insanity of weekends.

Some businesses reduce hours, days of operation, or simply close for portions of the winter.

Roger McLarnon is the Planning Board & Zoning Officer for Margate. Board recommendation: bolster the tourism economy. Hotel tower. Atlantic Ave to the beach, Monroe to Cedar Grove. The Hotel Overlay Zone, the cryptically named: Vertical Development. Some see this as spot zoning. Others see this as a needed amendment to the Margate Master Plan. Boost mid-week business activity. Provide more transient visitors.

Notes from Sept 6, 2018, Margate Commissioner meeting:

Commissioner John Amodeo: every 10 years, towns must update master plan. Stakeholder meetings. Meetings started under Roger Rubin in 2015. Over 30 meetings over course of 2 years. These amendments are not mandatory….just recommendations. Crowd is skeptical.

Recommendations approved by a 9-0 vote, at the AUG 2018 Margate Planning Board meeting.

With ban on hotels & motels, we see the rise of Air BnB, VRBO, renting via Craigslist, etc.


Public Comment:

Susan Rubin of Osborne Ave: The public meetings of 2015-2016. Are public records available? Meeting minutes? Who attended? Who were invited guests? 2nd homeowners were well represented? Really? Ms. Rubin was not aware of these public meetings until 2 weeks ago.

Where were the notices advertised? How was the public invited? Are legal notices enough? Legally, yes. Press of AC & Downbeach Current are the legal places to advertise, even though…very few read these papers.

Editors Note: How to solve this public awareness shortcoming? Post the legal notices on the Margate municipal site too. Allow people to ‘subscribe’ to legal notice notifications. When a new one is posted, it gets auto-emailed to the subscriber. This is common Internet functionality.

Lack of public awareness seems to be the #1 frustration of all homeowners. Being kept in dark about substantial issues that affect all taxpayers? Cryptic description of agenda items, ordinances, votes. Need to spell out in plain English, not legalese.

Major votes taking place during off-season? Meeting agenda not posted online prior to meetings. Must attend meeting, in order to see actual agenda. See pic below:

Margate Commissioner Meeting
The only place to grab an up-to-date, meeting agenda.
  • Emily Zaidan: Why these particular blocks? Long rumored.: owner of one particular biz (Greenhouse?)….wants to sell. Deal already done? Congestion. Transients. Undesirables. ‘No way just 12 people should decide this. There will be a mutiny if this passes’
  • If I bought the Greenhouse, could I tear it down and build a hotel? Yes, says Amodeo.
  • Ron Jackson. No more high-rises.  If you block the beach, you ruin Margate. Remember, Margate is the beach.
Real Estate developer & long term resident, Henry Gorenstein gets emotional over this. Henry says: I became VERY upset when Commissioner Amodeo was trying to make it sound like everything was hypothetical. That insulted mine, and all of our intelligence. The commissioners should be more FORTHRIGHT with residents, instead of trying to confuse them with land-use legalese.
A Margate hotel zone may bring in sex offenders? Was a crime study executed? No. Abuse of power?

I don’t see how they can vote YES on this issue on Sept 20, with almost no support. If they vote yes, we’ll drag this through the courts. Delay, until we can vote them out of office. We’ll remove the overlay zone ourselves. I’ve already started the process of making Margate my full-time residence. If I have to, I’ll run for office. I don’t think they care if they get voted out. I hope they prove me wrong so I don’t lose what little faith I have left in our elected officials.

Dropped ball big time with Margate Master Plan update. An insult when you say zoning is not changing.

Lucy the Elephant not mentioned in The Margate Master Plan update?
Editors Note: Hotel Zone Overlay is stealth ‘spot-zoning’ move? Much like the one Ventnor Commissioner Lance Landgraf is pushing in that town’s historic St. Leonard’s Tract. Residents are furious. Landgraf accused of helping land owner sell these beachfront properties. Pushing for higher-density housing which could adversely affect adjacent property values.
  • Glenn Klotz: Sees no need for more high-rises.
  • Atty Robert Baronowski, representing Island House Resident Association.
  • Nick Palmisano: pro-hotel & pro-overlay zone. Attract more families & kids. Keep both schools open. Boost business.
  • Stephanie Block. Commissioners… in 2 weeks….will vote this in?
  • Was this issue buried? Kept away from those who support Margate Boardwalk project?
  • David Grossman: Will support hotel, as long as a Boardwalk is agreed upon first. Sometimes, you gotta dance with the devil.
  • Glenn Klotz says:

    The BW issue and the Hi Rise issue look like they exist in the same time frame by yesterday’s meeting but they don’t. The issue of the height limits imposed in the early 70s is a far older issue then the recent proposal to build a new BW in Margate as a reaction to the recent unwanted imposition of the Federal/ State Beach Project. Yesterday they kind of collided in that both are essentially development issues. Margate is at a crossroads right now. The voters and the taxpayers need to be allowed to decide in which directions it wants to travel. Not unelected elites whose own self interest is directly involved.

  • Nancy D Callahan says:

    What is the impact of a new highrise next to Lucy the Elephant’s structure ?

  • Perry Weiner says:

    If I wanted a boardwalk and hotels I would live in Ocean City. This is fundamentally a residential community.
    Downbeach notes 75 buolding permits recently. These new McMansions have significantly increased our tax revenue and certainly outpace spending so why aren’t taxes going down?

  • Joel Shpigel says:

    As a homeowner in Margate, I think that anyone who pays Margate taxes, whether they are a full time or part time resident, should have a say in what the future of Margate will be. Notifications of proposed changes could be sent by mail to the address that tax bills are sent. An informed community will then be able to vote. Full transparency!

  • Ireland2017 says:

    I totally agree there is no need for a condo/hotel in Margate. The Bay area is going to be dense enough with all the added building. With all the taxes people pay in Margate, where is that money going? Can’t even afford to put mats over our lovely dunes, however Longport has them. It’s not snow removal!!
    Why do we have 10 children to a class room? The schools have to be looked at for sure.