Dispute Over Mad Hatter Loses an Objector

first_imgBy John BurtonSEA BRIGHT – There is one less objector, and a continuing number of supporters, as the borough Planning Board continues to hear the application this week for the re-envisioned Mad Hatter restaurant.As the board continued to address the plans to rebuild the popular Sandy-damaged spot, located at 10 East Ocean Ave., the lawyer representing one of the project opponents withdrew the objections.Jeffrey Gale, a Hazlet attorney representing the owner of a now-vacant neighboring property, told the board and crowded audience that his client was satisfied with changes to the plan that address the concerns.Gale’s comments were met with a round of applause by the supporters of the project, causing the attorney to quip he’s been waiting months to hear that applause.Later, Gale said the issue was the concern over the noise that would emanate from the popular shore spot. But given the testimony of a sound expert for the bar at the hearing held earlier this month and the planned changes, “My client is satisfied and ready to let the board do as it may,” the attorney said.Gale represents JMN Holdings, Inc., the owner of record of the neighboring property that formerly had a lumber business before being damaged by Super Storm Sandy in October 2012.Kevin Asadi, the lawyer representing the Mad Hatter’s owners, told the board that the plans changed to include modifying the stereo sound system and installing an 8-foot-high wall, made of half-inch glass, around the second floor rear outdoor deck.Courtney Davis, a borough resident who has attended hearings to support the project, was happy with this development. “Hopefully, they’ll come to their senses,” she said of the other objectors.Davis has been giving out T-shirts reading #MADPRIDE and a number of audience members wore them. “We decided we wanted a visual support and show the Kellys we’re behind them,” Davis said, referring to the bar’s owners.Despite this development, Red Bank attorney Ron Gasiorowski, representing a neighboring homeowner, gave no quarter. Gasiorowski cross-examined professional planner Keenan Hughes, representing the bar. Hughes said the use is permitted and desirable for a downtown commercial zone and would encourage visits to the area and insisted the site isn’t a “nightclub” under state land use definition; it is primarily a restaurant and bar, but will have live and recorded music, Hughes said.Gasiorowski is representing Jennifer Walsh, who lives in the vicinity of this Ocean Avenue location, and has been arguing that the project is too substantial for the property and would be disruptive for the quality of life for area residents.The board will again hear this application on May 19, when Gasiorowski is expected to continue to present professional testimony of a noise expert.Kelly Management Group, LLC, headed up by Scott Kelly, is seeking board approval to construct a three-story, elevated structure, which would have seven parking spaces under it. The three stories would consist of the ground floor with restaurant seating and a retail kiosk for selling T-shirts and sweatshirts and takeout food; the two upper levels would have bars and outside decks. The site would have live entertainment during the busier evenings and a sound system playing recorded music the rest of the time. Kelly said his planned operating hours would be between 11 a.m. and 2 a.m., seven days a week.Supporters say this project would help in Sea Bright’s ongoing redevelopment after Sandy’s devastation to the community. Opponents say the owners are seeking to overdevelop the site which would overtax area parking and be noisy.last_img

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