Council denies request to vacate paper street

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

SEA BRIGHT — Jeff Morris got his answer. But it wasn’t the one he wanted.

The Borough Council, for a second time, has denied the request of Morris for the borough to vacate and deed to him that portion of Bellevue Place, a paper street running along the Shrewsbury River, in front of his house at 23 Atlantic Way. The house is at the west end of the street by the river.

The council voted 4-2 against vacating the street at its Aug. 17 meeting.

The dissenting two votes came from Councilmen Andrew Mencinsky and Charles Galloway, both independents. Morris ran, unsuccessfully, for election to the council in November 2002 as an independent.

The council first turned down the request of Morris and Maureen Bagley to vacate the paper street on the river side of 23 Atlantic Way, where they both lived, in the fall of 2002 after Morris appeared before the governing body to argue his case. In January 2003, he and Bagley appealed to the borough Planning/Zoning Board for approval of their plans for a three-story addition to the house, but the board called it too massive and denied their request.

In the hearing before the Planning/Zoning Board it was discovered that the existing setback on one side of the house was half a foot, which both surprised and stunned board Chairman Lance Cunningham.

In Morris’ latest request for the council to vacate the paper street in front of the house, which was presented to the governing body by Jennifer S. Krimko, an Ocean Township lawyer, on July 20, he offered to allow the borough to retain a public access easement along the waterfront portion of Bellevue Place so as to preserve the public’s right of access to the water along the bulkhead.

In his letter to the mayor and council on July 14 advising them of Morris’ request, borough attorney Scott C. Arnette noted that the borough had previously vacated portions of the street to the upland property owners with various provisos.

The matter was referred to committee and Krimko subsequently wrote to Borough Clerk Maryann M. Smeltzer on July 29 and asked when she and Morris could anticipate a response from the council.

The subject was brought up at the Aug. 17 meeting and Councilwoman Dina Long, chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee, reported that the committee found there were no public safety issues involved.

She said, however, the committee recommended against approving Morris’ request because of the fact that there are deeded rights to the street, their concern about continued access of the public to the bulkhead and the current opinion running against vacating any more of the waterfront street.

Councilwoman Maria Fernandes seconded the motion to deny.

Voting with Long and Fernandes against vacating the street were Councilmen William Gelfound and William J. Keeler.