Rich Gober’s Take on Ventnor Plaza Development

Ventnor Planning Board Landgraf

Northbeach resident Rich Gober is seriously concerned about proposed plans for Ventnor Plaza, the shopping center along Wellington Ave.

Ventnor Commissioner / Planning Board member Lance Landgraf admits mistakes were made. Neighbors not properly notified.

Some ask if a ‘re-notify’ is in order?

Within 200 ft radius, only 11 of 33 neighbors were properly notified.

Ventnor Plaza planning board landgraf
Neighbors not notified.

Here’s Rich Gober’s take:

I just read many of the comments made by residents and one thing that seems to be lacking was the opportunity for many property owners to be heard on issues that directly affected them.

First and foremost I think all government departments such as planning & zoning should be available on line to give all residents the opportunity to attend meetings and be heard.

All seashore communities have very large non full-time residents who often live many miles away and they simply do not have the opportunity to attend mid week meetings and thus are not heard. How would that harm anything?

It would be very easy for me as NORTH BEACH resident to think this sounds great but I think the surrounding owners concerns need to be addressed more carefully so it does turn out to great.

Possible traffic and flooding issues need to be carefully considered.

ventnor plaza planning board error

Last but not least, is my concern over a brewery.

Did anyone ask the Chief of Police his opinion? Here we were a BYOB community for over 100 years. A few years back we changed that and allowed three liquor licenses to be issued. the local police chief at the time did not agree with it.

It included special regulations that said licenses were being issued for restaurants, not for bars. Yeah sure, just the opposite since both current license holders have very large bars.

Even in the defense of those three establishments that spent any where from $75,000 to $125,000 for those licenses now a new competition comes into town without the need to buy a liquor license.

Ventnor will regret this decision, wait and see.

Richard Gober

Epic Planning Board Error. Re-Notify Ventnor Plaza Development?

Will higher parking lot elevation cause excessive water run-off into adjacent neighborhood?


29 thoughts on “Rich Gober’s Take on Ventnor Plaza Development”

  1. Residents should absolutely get a Re-Notify. And be *On the Record*. audio and video.

    they should have been properly, legally notified.

    They approved heavy traffic flow in our backyard. Without legal notices sent out.

    All kinds of traffic, delivery trucks of every size, who wants that right behind your back gate? They lose any privacy they have. Shame on the city.

    Your residents safety should come first! This is not safe or the right thing to do.

    It will be a nightmare. Re-Notify and Re-do are in order. On Record.

  2. Ventnor Citizen Watchdog

    If Ventnor Planning Board doesn’t properly notify residents within 200 ft of proposed development, it could lead to legal challenge to board’s decision-making process.

    The failure to properly notify affected parties may be considered a violation of due process and could result in the board’s decision being overturned or the development being delayed.

    It is important for the Planning Board to follow proper notification procedures in order to ensure that all interested parties have an opportunity to be heard and to provide input on the proposed development.

  3. I concur, all neighbors within 200′ should have been notified and unfortunately the improper process will be legal grounds for a legal challenge, if one or more of the neighbors with standing want to challenge the ruling by the planning board.

    This will delay the work, may reverse the decision all together and create a project failure, which would be a real shame based on the previous owners lack of interest in the property.

    Being involved previously in several smaller developments in NJ myself, I know there are definite paths one must follow.

    Being part timers, as we are, but loving Ventnor as much as my family does, I agree that there is no good reason not to allow these meetings to occur online, so anyone with a personal and financial interest in Ventnor can observe and participate .

    Unfortunately, there has always been a bitterness by local officials in Ventnor and many other island towns, not to accommodate part-timers by allowing electronic access to these meetings.

    And there is little fear of repercussions, since none of us have a vote. I often say the state motto should be, “shut up, don’t visit and just pay your taxes!”

    I have worked with hundreds of “bar-restaurants”, owned several myself and have worked with large and small breweries (several in Jersey) for more than 25 years and on this point I must disagree with Mr. Gober.

    The establishments in Ventnor are “bar-restaurants” or “restaurant-bars”, meaning they have both food and alcohol. Straight bars do not carry any significant food menu. So the licensed establishments in Ventnor are doing nothing wrong, because they all have more than ample menus.

    And separation of bar and restaurant are a good idea because some folks like one atmosphere more than another and a young family is happy to sit in the eating area, where a 50 something couple might like having a drink and bite at the bar.

    Locations like these typically don’t stay open past 11pm. or midnight and I’ll bet they have brought very little trouble to the City.

    It always boils down to the operators of the establishments. How good or bad they are and what they will and will not tolerate from their customers.

    But a brewery is different in Jersey, which have some of the most restrictive laws on microbreweries in America.They cannot carry everything like the licensed establishments can.

    It’s nearly impossible for a true brewery to carry spirits of any kind and only with very limited exceptions wine of any sort any typically need to bring food in from another source.

    And with Murphy’s new laws taking affect a while back, has made it even harder for them. And if you believe they are getting their license for free, then you have never been involved in building a brewery, not even a small one.

    That equipment is so much more expensive than anything a typical licensed establishment needs to buy, that they will be much more invested in their sales per drink than any of the licensees in Ventnor will ever be. Even a small brewery can demand $500K – $1.5M in just processing equipment, not including the rest of the build out. Brew masters take their craft very seriously and the last thing they are looking for is an old western saloon.

    Being a frequent visitor of the Plaza, I’m very happy to see this new development group take the risk and do what is needed to make it better. Sometimes Jersey towns forget that if there isn’t enough commercial activity in the area that eventually the residential portion falters because there isn’t enough convenience to sustain it.

    That area is a low lying area, it has its problems and always will, so it’s only logical that grading and some revisions will need to take place. And no matter how much topographical work is allowed, it will never be perfect.

    This is where the City needs to be responsible, reasonable and fair to both sides, the developers and the neighbors.

    That strip has been an eye sore and half vacant for years and years. It needs help and as residents we can all benefit from it succeeding. The neighbors need to be reasonable in their demands and the developers need to be reasonable also.

    But if either side becomes unreasonable then respectfully, the Ventnor officials need to be true leaders and bring them to common ground, even if they loose a vote or two, next time around. They need to allow both to coexist and prosper as residents and a business.

    They need to be thankful to some degree that a local who loves Ventnor thought enough of that area to invest his money. It could have been some out of state developer that could care less.

    But first the officials need to show they even know what proper procedure is!

    1. Well thought out. I am full-time resident but believe ALL property owners should be able to vote, at least on a local level, since your taxes are being spent with no input.
      C’mon Ventnor, do it right and get your act together.

  4. I’m having a hard time deciphering what Mr. Gober is saying, but i agree with Frannieg, who makes good, coherently expressed points.NJ is the most business unfriendly State, and when a homegrown entrepreneur comes along whose ideas, fortune, and labor will improve our lives, we should do our best to smooth the way, rather than erect impediments and unreasonable restrictions. We need successful commercial development rather than an endless array of new condos replacing shopping, activities, etc.

  5. Residents next to the Plaza are NOT opposed to the redevelopment *inside* the Plaza property lines.

    Residents within 200 ft of project were NEVER NOTIFIED as per law, that new Plaza entrance OPENINGS (near Auto Zone ) are to be created right behind their backyards! (with no safety buffer)

    The city approved *NEW Entranceway OPENINGS* without ever hearing from residents on how it will impact them.

    This is not a regular road. It’s a dead end street. Walk back there and see if you wouldn’t be concerned if you lived there? Any car, truck, delivery truck or motorist can plow through their fences. That is a HUGE problem!

    Trees and shrubs will not keep the residents safe if a driver is out of control. How did the Planning Board approve that part without any consideration for ALL of those residents being put in harms way? THIS IS THE ISSUE!

    1. There was a public hearing in November 2018 where a resolution passed requiring the Plaza to move their driveway and pave Little Rock Ave., which is already a partially paved city street at a traffic light. This has nothing to do with the current approvals at Ventnor Plaza, this was approved long before the current owner bought the property.

    2. Let’s not forget raising plaza parking lot will cause flooding in our backyards. What about the foundation of our homes being affected?

      Deliveries from massive tractor trailer and trash trucks. Deliveries to ACME and now the 3-4 new restaurants between 5-7 am in the morning.

      Foundation of homes would be impacted by heavy traffic. Massive tractor trailers vibrating the ground foundation just on the other side of their fence.

      The residents are all in favor of revitalization of ventnor plaza.

      However, they don’t want a major street for 18 wheelers on their doorsteps. That somehow got slipped into this project.

  6. The Ventnor Commissioner has a day job as Director of Planning for CRDA. He would “never” violate the law in his day job, suggests that violating the law in his duly elected Ventnor job!

    That’s insane. May lead to legal challenges, which would really delay this much needed development.

    1. Still waiting for my certified letter… And I live dead smack in the middle of the block somebody dropped the ball !!!!!

  7. New businesses mean more traffic and more delivery trucks right behind their backyards. The developer has more than enough land to keep the traffic *INSIDE* his property lines.

    But I guess because the developer is going to pay for the paving the dirt street, not the city, they gave their approval. Shameful.

    The city hasn’t bothered with that road in decades….BUT now that someone else will pay…it’s a go.

    And shame on the developer for encroaching on all the people that live there. Their safety and privacy should be of upmost importance. The developer should and can re-configure his openings to *INSIDE* his property lines.

    The light at Little Rock already gets congested. And using that light is not going to make anything flow better….only worse congestion. All heading right behind the residents homes. Awful!

  8. There was a public hearing October 28th 2019. All the residents had the opportunity to voice their objections to Little Rock Ave. This has nothing to do with the developer now

    1. None of the residents within the 200 feet where giving official letters from the city about this meeting to allow them to be put on record about concern or grievances they have about this road being built. They were all sent letters recently for this meeting taking place on Jan 11 2023, however it will not be on official record.

      Neighbors are not fighting against Developer Mr Greco, or his plans within Plaza property lines.

      However, in his plans along with the city approval. He put the paving of Little Rock street in plans that attach residents homes, to a commercial parking lot.

      Again, the issue is not the Plaza itself or Mr Greco’s plans.

      The issues are: Ventnor City allowing developer Greco to pave a public, direct street without public input from residents within 200 ft of project.

        1. City should have sent letter to neighbors that they are REQUIRING a street be paved by a commercial real estate property owner.

          The plans the city snuck in without the say of the resident … I wonder why… as you can see from all of these comments.

          As Mr Landgraf stated, there was a mistake that happened here. I’m sure there was more than a few legal issues here that I’m sure to come out of this. I praise the journalist at downbeach buzz whom is actually bringing to light all of the issues the residents. Thank you.

  9. It absolutely has to do with now. Ok, so approval to pave was in 2019.

    City told residents that developer wants to close current ‘one way’ entrance (close to auto zone) in his plans. He bought the Plaza in June-2022.

    Developer told residents, Ventnor city wants to close the one-way entrance near Auto Zone. Who’s lying?

    How could they speak in 2019 if they were never notified back then?

    And don’t go on about how they should have checked when the planning meeting were. 200 ft Notifications should have been sent back then, too.

    This is all BS. Only residents who live there are going to be affected. Not the city. Not the developer

  10. The residents property line is joined /connected to the city road. They own property outside of their back gates.

    Of course the city required Greco to pave the road. He’s gonna pay for it. Not the city.

    To bring his traffic behind the residents homes. He has over 15 acres to work with. Unless you live there and see what the residents see…you have no idea.

    Driving by or walking by to go to the Plaza is not the same as living there.

    1. Actually after investigating it was found out that most of the residents fences are on city property, not their own property.

  11. Ventnor residents, you’re not the only ones not being notified. Same thing happens here in Avalon. We never got letter either for a project being built right next door.

    Despite attending the Planning Board meeting and making them aware of this (we were not the only ones with no letter), we now live next door to two 30′ high McMansions.

    Every time there’s more than an inch of rain, our back yard turns into a swimming pool that we can’t use for 3 – 4 days.

    Let’s face it: the builders and real estate brokers are the winners.

  12. Reminds me of permits given to Hansen ‘Sober Living’ houses in Ventnor.

    Depreciating home values w/ property taxes that don’t align for that and short list of other causes.

    Ventnor must be so very dirty.

  13. Ventnor Community Forum Member

    Ventnor residents should attend Jan 11 Planning Board meeting. If Commissioner Lance Landgraf can screw Ventnor Plaza neighbors by NOT legally notifying them of major projects…. he can also hurt you and your neighborhood. No matter where you live in Ventnor.

    Margate leadership is also guilty of this misconduct.

  14. Northbeach Vince

    We remember how Commissioner Landgraf tried to ‘Spot Zone’ a portion of St Leonard’s Tract. He tried to change the rules within the master plan. He wanted to squeeze 6 homes into a place big enough for 3. Neighbors showed up at meetings. They were angry. They never gave up. Landgraf the bully eventually backed down.

  15. Ventnor Advisory Committee 2023

    Ventnor Planning Board solicitor Manos is excellent at his job of guiding the Planning Board. Try to keep them legal and compliant.

    Did Commish Lance Landgraf, Mayor Holtzman and Commish Tim Kriebel ignore legal guidance from Atty Manos?

    Manos also works for Margate Planning Board. He is a stickler for legal procedure. He’s very good. Especially when it comes to legal notifications to those who live within 200 ft from project.

    Developer not at fault here. It’s Landgraf, Holtzman and Kriebel.

  16. First & foremost Ventnor, Margate and Longport residents are very lucky to have both DownBeachBuzz and Downbeach .com news publications that are available to us at no cost literally on a daily basis. I am a daily reader and simply said I often find information on issues that I had absolutely no knowledge of. The plans at the shopping center were a good example.

    Wow I must admit I was very impressed and I enjoyed the over 30 comments after my post the other day. Some people agreed with me and some did not on various parts of my comments and I have no problem with that. My goal when responding to this issue was rather simple.

    As a 40+ year Ventnor resident nothing will give me greater pleasure than to see the shopping center dramatically improved and become extremely successful. However, I do not want to see that happen at the expense of the surrounding and adjoining neighbors.

    When I wrote I had no knowledge that there appears to have possibly been some miscommunication with legal notification to quite a few of the adjoining neighbors. Personally I believe we have many very good planning and zoning board members who are all volunteers in our community. However they do not control all of the process that needs to be followed.

    If a mistake has been made it can be very easily be rectified by having another meeting with proper notifications sent out to the required residents and also publicly announcing such a meeting because there are many local residents that could be effected by some of these plans. All that residents want is transparency and they are always hopeful that there has not been any back room deal being made. They simply wish to have the opportunity to be heard with their concerns and are hopeful that the Board members will hear them, and they deserve that. Their last wish is to have to get involved with litigation.

    As a lifelong activist and person who personally led the fight many years ago against a previous Ventnor administration who wanted to allow Eminent Doman to be used in the NORTH BEACH section of town that would have had 350 families lose their homes, I am often reminded by many interesting quotes.

    “A Planner is a man you give your watch to and he tells you what time it is”. Sidney W. Bookbinder, Esq.
    Margaret Mead said, “Don’t think that a few good people can’t make a difference, they are the only ones who have—throughout history!!”
    Remember, if you cannot resolve things through normal channels then you need to take it to the highest court in the nation, the people. Sidney W. Bookbinder, Esq.

    Now having bored you with this simply let’s make sure that the developer is legally obligated to make sure any of the plans for the parking lot to handle flooding will not cause problems for the adjoining residents and should it, they will be held legally responsible.

    Of course knowing that it appears this issue will be discussed at an upcoming meeting, and unfortunately knowing that many resindets may not be available to attend in person I am hoping that just maybe the Board will consider making future meetings like this available for people to call in and attend by zoom or by phone.
    Richard Gober

    1. Thanks to the Downbeach Buzz for the Shopping Center articles and you, Richard Gober, for your honest responses that clearly encouraged many of the opinions that followed! Truth not only rocks, it is imperative!

      I sincerely hope that any Ventnor City official, Solicitor, Planning/Zoning Board member or persons serving on any official or advisory board, (elected, appointed, salaried or volunteer) who publicly offers their opinion on behalf of the City of Ventnor, will henceforth recite the NJ Statute that directs, mandates, allows or disallows, without alluding vaguely to an municipal ordinance that might be at odds or confuse.

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