Ventnor Considers St Leonards Tract Spot Zoning Changes

Ventnor City leaders are facing heat over their Spot Zoning efforts. A desire to change zoning rules for one particular area of St Leonards Tract.

A Ventnor Planning Board hearing is scheduled for July 30.

At the recent Commision mtg, Commissioner Lance Landgraf pushed back on frustrated, Dorset & Derby Ave residents. They accuse Landgraf of engaging in the potentially unsavory act of something called ‘spot zoning’.

A Bad Ventnor Land Use Planning Decision by Landgraf?

Poor planning decision coming to your neighborhood? Mobilize and organize your neighbors. That’s the most effective thing to do. Final land use decisions and zoning decisions are almost always made by elected officials, and they are susceptible to pressure from citizens.  Learn as much as you can about the zoning of surrounding properties, any comprehensive or small-area plans that have been adopted for the property in question, and the history of land uses on the parcel proposed for rezoning.

From https://www.useful-community-development.org/neighborhood-associations.html


Courts Usually React Negatively to Spot Zoning.

• Fundamental fairness. One of the foundational truths of land use law is that equal properties should be treated equally.  Often in the case of alleged spot zoning,  the suspicion is that perhaps the person seeking the change is a friend of some decision-maker or is owed a political favor. Or perhaps just is an influential person around town.

A variance / spot zoning usually requires the landowner suffer a substantial hardship which only the granting of a variance may remedy. If a local zoning authority decides to grant a variance to a landowner who lacks substantial hardship, then its legality (regarding equal protection) may be called into question.

Ventnor Commissioners want smaller lot sizes. This means more density and possibly more flooding, traffic issues. The upside is more tax ratables coming in. City Hall loves that fact the most. Who wouldn’t?

Residents say Landgraf’s quest for a zoning change will hurt Real Estate valuations of the neighborhood. The lot has sat for almost 15 years.

High taxes, view-blocking dunes and lack of PR & marketing have stymied Ventnor City, NJ. Most believe these facts are likely co-culprits.

St. Leonard’s Tract in Ventnor:  Properties between South Derby and Dorset Ave. Historic eight-block area. Mainly single-family homes.

City ordinance mandates all new oceanfront development in this zone has a lot size of at least 10,000 square feet. According to the ordinance, all lots that already existed there before 2003 were kept at a minimum of 5,750 square feet.

The controversial ‘spot zoning’ vote got delayed again. Change the rules to squeeze 3 or 4 properties into the Boardwalk front parcel between Dorset and Derby.

Ventnor Commissioners Landgraf, Holtzman & Kriebel felt the heat. They withdrew the proposed R-1, beach & boardwalk, residential zoning changes.

4) INTRODUCTION ON ORDINANCE 2018-026. AN ORDINANCE AMENDING AND SUPPLEMENTING THE LAND USE ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF VENTNOR CITY, CHAPTER 102 “LAND USE REGULATIONS”, ARTICLE III-DEFINITIONS AND WORD USAGE, ARTICLE IV- RESIDENTIAL 1 DISTRICT AND ARTICLE XVIII- GENERAL REGULATIONS IN ALL DISTRICTS.

Everything on hold. Will the Ventnor Planning Board hold their next meeting during Summer 2018? Or will it be delayed til after 2nd homeowners are gone for the winter?

Watch St Leonards Tract Neighbors Grill Ventnor Commissioners:

Ventnor Mayor Beth Holtzman: ‘it’s a planning board issue’. How involved was Ventnor Planning and Zoning up until this point? Was the Ventnor Commission acting alone? Would the commission tweak Ventnor zoning laws on their own?

Due to social media, email and web, 26 St Leonards Tract neighbors were able to communicate. Tap the brakes on some potentially harmful development on Dorset Ave. along the Boardwalk.

26 St Leonards Tract homeowners oppose the proposed changes to this premium, Ventnor Boardwalk lot.

Pickle Ball Fun. St Leonards Tract.

Neighbors fear lower Real Estate values. Aesthetically, it’s a mistake too.

Ventnor Dorset beach block traffic is already dangerous.

Atlantic Ave is still 35 mph. Two lanes in each direction. Intersection of Dorset & Atlantic is particularly treacherous.

Land sat undeveloped for 15 years.

City of Ventnor wants higher density building in an area filled with historic properties. A huge mistake? Changing the character of St Leonards tract?

Analogy: In Margate, neighbors often fight back against anyone messing with Marvin Gardens. Neighbors usually win.

[foogallery id=”45134″]

Commissioner Lance Landgraf said: Parcel of land in question was spot zoned years ago. Done with spite to stop development. Improperly done.

A Dorset Ave neighbor vehemently disagreed with Landgraf, saying he’s simply wrong. WATCH VIDEO.

‘Not being completely open about this’.

Philly.com’s Amy Rosenberg commented: en masse zoning changes being forced on the town by Ventnor Commissioner Landgraf.

Marc Silver says:  What this shows, it’s just another myopic mayor decision without using the full process. This is a major zoning change after the planning board and commissioners were silent on this very issue one year ago. Ventnor continues its mish mash policy of whim based changes.

Marc Silver: April and May 2018 were first two consecutive months in ten years where home prices rose, but barely. Jan thru March 2018, home prices declined. Virtually no homes sold on beach block in 2018.

One lot owned by Gordon. One by Gelman. Two separate lots & owners.

‘You’re spot-zoning Lance.’ Spot zoning is generally held to be legal, since any non-conforming uses need to be approved by a local government board. However, many view the practice of spot zoning as unfair, since one portion of land is basically given special treatment compared with the rest of the zone.

Chamber chatter:

  • Coming off a summer (2017) of un-needed beach work (most of it already eroded)
  • A Ventnor dune system that can take up to over 70% of usable, Ventnor beach during hightide.
  • Commisioner Landgraf reports that DEP will take control of more Ventnor beach. 20 ft. on ocean side of dune.

Ventnor Dune Covers Large Portion of Beach

3 thoughts on “Ventnor Considers St Leonards Tract Spot Zoning Changes”

  1. I live on Derby Ave. for the last 18 years. The lots being talked about have been on and off the market for sale for 14/15 years much of that time. It doesn’t take a Realtor to know over priced houses will not sell. This is especially true with land particularly if it is beachfront. A variance was attempted to reduce the size of the lots to sell more quickly but dropped because variances are often challenged by residents. Instead it was decided presumely by the owner or the city to change the zoning to R1 where it does not require a variance. How convenient!

    PRICE TOO HIGH PROPERTY WILL NOT SELL BUT SIT ON THE MARKET FOR YEARS. PRICED RIGHT, IT WILL SELL. It’s a no brainer!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top