The 15 year Ventnor zoning battle continues. What size should the lots be, between Dorset and Derby Ave along the Boardwalk?
The Ventnor Planning Board says City Commissioners should create a new zoning district for this portion of Boardwalk properties. One caveat: DON’T reduce the current 80 ft minimum widths, down to 50 ft widths. Members of historic St. Leonard’s Tract applaud that move, but they’re still skeptical.
This parcel of land once hosted a historic landmark property owned by The Sisters of Charity of New York. Unable to afford the taxes, they were forced to sell in 2002. The sisters requested that the house, declared an official landmark, NOT be sold to developers. So, it was sold to an individual — who in turn sold it to a developer. It was eventually demolished to make way for multiple building lots. Most of those lots still sit empty today. ( Story facts from New York Times )
From Herald Extra: In Ventnor, the Sisters of Charity of New York sold their landmark beachfront home on a promise that it would be restored, only to see it demolished, and the land parceled out five ways. There was much remorse.
Video from WE LOVE VENTNOR. Some background on Gelman Properties, Ventnor Commissioner Lance Landgraf versus St Leonard’s Tract neighbors:
City Planner Roger McLarnon, zoning officer for both Ventnor and Margate, says to keep the 80 ft width x 125 ft depth requirement.
Nonetheless, neighbors still don’t trust current landowner, Gelman Properties. Plenty of neighbors believe Ms. Fran Gelman will keep lobbying for smaller lot sizes on her land between Derby & Dorset.
Michael Bluestein of Derby Ave in Ventnor, questioned land expert, Art Ponzio.
Art Ponzio spoke in favor of smaller lot sizes. Bluestein asked Ponzio: ‘have you ever been hired by Gelman properties in the past?’ Ponzio admitted to working for Fran Gelman in 2003.
Bluestein has less than favorable feelings about his experience of buying multiple properties from Ms. Gelman in the past. See video below.
Mr. Bluestein: potential conflicts of interest on Ventnor Planning Board?
Some Ventnor Planning Board members have spouses that work for the Real Estate firm of Farley & Ferry, where Ms. Fran Gelman is an agent.
Property owner, Fran Gelman, owns 2 of the lots in this contested zone between Dorset and Derby in Ventnor.
- One lot priced at $3.2 million
- One lot priced at $2.6 million
Lots haven’t sold for 15 years. Why? Something to do with the size? Or maybe, lots are poorly priced? Maybe 40% over current market value?
VIDEO from WE LOVE VENTNOR: Bluestein references Gelman & Ponzio.
Art Ponzio’s company is the oldest established civil engineering, land surveying and professional planning firm located within the City of Atlantic City. In business for over sixty years.
Ponzio: ‘Not one house was built in last 15 yrs, with 80 ft frontage. Obviously, that (2003) ordinance didn’t work. To me, that’s not good planning.’
- Friendly relationship with Lance Landgraf
- Has done work for Gelman Properties in past.
- ‘Money’s not everything, but it’s something to think of.’
- Smaller homes & lots sizes open up view corridors. Better air flow.
- Reduce mass. Curb monster home growth.
Some think Landgraf is unfairly catering to property owners along the Ventnor Boardwalk. Others believe he’s simply looking to increase tax revenue.
Ventnor Commissioners Landgraf and Kriebel, along with Mayor Holtzman, have strongly supported the smaller lot sizes in the past.
Ventnor Commissioner Lance Landgraf regularly accused of being a bully.
They suggest that empty, premium, waterfront lots are holding back 10’s of thousands of property tax dollars, annually.
Ventnor Commissioner, Lance Landgraf, is a planner for the controversial CRDA in Atlantic City. He also sits on the Ventnor and Brigantine Planning Boards.
Home buyers want smaller lot sizes between Dorset & Derby Ave in Ventnor?
Landgraf, Holtzman & Kriebel want more ratables via higher density development in this area. They want to spur development & grow the property tax base.
Ponzio offered these Ventnor, assessed land values:
- Derby to Cornwall $17,000 per running ft. value
- Derby to Dorset $18,000 per running ft value
- Surrey to Suffolk $20,000 per running ft value
- Block that features three 50 ft lots, have $25,670 per running ft value.
Downbeach Ocean Frontage:
- Longport: average width of 45 ft
- Margate: average width of 50 ft
- Ventnor: proposed R1 boardwalk zone width: 80 ft
Landgraf claims it would be too expensive to create a new Boardwalk district, complete with an update of the zoning maps.
Landgraf and others, including local planning expert, Arthur Ponzio, prefer to reduce lot sizes. They see municipal tax benefits of squeezing in more homes along the Ventnor Boardwalk.
Word of caution: A new boardwalk zone could reduce ability to subdivide properties. Variance would be needed to reduce lot size to less than 80 ft frontage.
Several St. Leonard’s Tract residents applauded the board’s recent decision though.
From July 30 2018, Ventnor Planning Board Meeting:
- Arthur Ponzio believes that rezoning will not have much of an impact on the properties in that zone.
- Nicholas Talvacchia, attorney for the Gelman estate, speaks in favor of the proposed zoning changes in the Residential 1 District.
Ventnor Planning Board
- Chairman – Jay Cooke
- Vice Chairman – Tom McAdam
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The Ventnor Planning Board meets at 6:30 on the second Wednesday and fourth Monday of each month. Call 823-7987 for more information.