Posts Tagged ‘zoning board’

This is a rendering of two homes developer Hans Kretschman proposes on the Manchester Inn site. He says they'll replicate earlier structures predating the Manchester.

By Charles Layton

On Wednesday night the Neptune Zoning Board approved, with only two small changes, Hans Kretschman’s proposal to build two new single-family homes where the Manchester Inn once stood on Ocean Pathway.

Kretschman’s project had been the object of considerable controversy, and a stream of Ocean Grovers came to the microphone to voice their opposition. Nevertheless, the Board members embraced the ambitious plan, which proposes to copy two turn-of-the-century buildings that existed on the site before they were subsumed, in the 1920s, into the larger building that became the Manchester.

The new buildings are to be built on two of three lots that comprised the Manchester — 25 Ocean Pathway and 27 Ocean Pathway. Kretschman also owns the third lot, which faces Bath Avenue, but he has not yet revealed his plans for that.

He went before the board seeking variances to three of Neptune’s zoning rules that apply to the area — a 35-foot limitation on height, a rule limiting single-family homes to two and a half stories, and a rule regarding Ocean Grove’s famous “flared setback” in the first two blocks of Ocean Pathway. At the start of the meeting Kretschman’s attorney, Jennifer Krimko, agreed to lower the height of one of the buildings by a foot, to bring it within the 35-foot limit. She also made a slight concession on the flared setback by agreeing to pull the porch of one of the buildings out of the setback area. But the front stairs of both buildings will continue to protrude into the setback area — one by 1.81 feet and the other by 3.65 feet, according to Kretschman’s architect, Joseph Walker.

The board approved the remaining variances, allowing the encroachment of the stairs, allowing the houses to have three and a half stories, and allowing the house at 25 Ocean Pathway to exceed the height limit by 3 feet and 4 inches.

Kretschman’s witnesses, including two architects and a professional planner, had testified that the reconstruction of the two original buildings would be extraordinarily precise, based on extensive photographic and physical evidence. They argued that the benefits of such a faithful replication far outweighed any detriments due to the departures from the zoning rules; those departures were necessary, they said, for the sake of historical fidelity.

Numerous large photographs of the proposed homes were displayed about the room during the hearing. Kretschman, who obviously takes pride in the quality and beauty of these proposed creations, told me he could not understand why members of the public had been so negative in their reactions.

But after the testimony of Kretschman’s experts, when the floor was opened to public comments, the great preponderance of expressed opinion remained critical.

The fact that the Manchester and five homes surrounding it had been destroyed in a tremendous fire last year lent to the discussion a special poignancy. Martha Derrico told the board that she had “lost everything” in last year’s fire, which destroyed her house at 30 Bath Avenue. She said she had observed all the zoning requirements in rebuilding her home, and although Kretschman’s proposed homes were “very lovely…I just don’t understand why they can’t be cut down to fit the zoning requirements.”

Deb Marini, who also lost her home at 23 Ocean Pathway to the fire, lamented the fact that when she and her husband wanted to rebuild to three stories the Zoning Board turned them down. “My issue I guess is more with consistency,” she said. “We lost our home twice. We lost it once to the fire. We lost it again to this board.”

Several residents decried what they considered to be a trend toward more and more massive structures on Ocean Pathway and elsewhere in the Grove.

However, when it came time for board members to vote, the mood changed completely. Board member James Gilligan said, “I can’t see any way that this application could be turned down.” The board’s chairwoman, Robin Price, said, “I think this will be an added benefit to the street scape.” Joe Sears said Kretschman’s plans were “a great improvement” over the Manchester. “This is so lovely,” he said.

The board approved the plan by a vote of seven to one, Barbara Burns being the lone dissenter.

The Manchester Inn (above) evolved from two older buildings. Now that the Manchester is gone, the plan is to copy, as nearly as possible, those two buildings.

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