Vacant Palermo’s Market Property Gets Final OK for Use as Duplexes

first_imgThe site of the former Palermo’s Market has been rezoned to allow the construction of duplexes on the block of Asbury Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets in Ocean City, NJ.City Council on Thursday gave final approval to an ordinance that rezones the property of the abandoned Palermo’s Family Market on the 400 block of Asbury Avenue to allow the construction of duplexes.The ordinance calls for rezoning the ocean side of Asbury Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets (and two mixed-use lots across the street) for duplexes with 30-foot frontages. The area is currently zoned for neighborhood business.The market has been closed for four or five years, and the vacant commercial property has deteriorated as it remained unsold. If it sells as residential property, the Palermo’s tract would likely be replaced by 13 units, a single-family structure on a larger corner lot and six duplexes.Eight different neighbors of the Palermo property raised various objections to the proposal and process during public comment at the meeting.“We have space between our homes where we garden and enjoy the hummingbirds,” said Susan Phillips, whose Historic District home backs up onto the existing Palermo’s parking lot. “I’d like to see a neighborhood created and not same, same, same, same.”None of the neighbors expressed a desire to keep the existing business zone that has left the property abandoned and blighted. Most seemed to favor a change to residential zoning for duplexes with 40-foot frontages with the idea that the extra frontage would leave more space.“The 40-wide sounds like a great idea,” Councilman Keith Hartzell said. “But in reality it works the opposite way.”Zoning for duplexes with 40-foot frontages allows for units of four or five bedrooms housing more people with more cars and more likelihood that the lots would be purchased for use as vacation rental properties, Hartzell said. He suggested it would create more density.A common theme in comments from the neighbors was that they were caught off guard by the proposal and never had a chance to offer input before the zoning change was drafted and introduced to council. A nearly hour-long discussion focused as much on the process of the zoning change as on the substance.Councilmen Hartzell, Antwan McClellan and Michael DeVlieger emphasized that they went door-to-door visiting neighbors to solicit feedback on the proposed changes, and they said they heard few substantial objections to the proposed ordinance.But the neighbors who visited the council meeting said those visits came only after the first reading of the ordinance had already been passed.“I’d like to see us table this,” Councilman Pete Guinosso said. “These people are taxpayers. Why won’t we listen to them? … I have a hard time saying, ‘You know what, you have a great idea, but we have a better idea.’ “In the end, Guinosso cast the dissenting vote in the 5-1 tally that approved the ordinance (DeVlieger had left Council Chambers briefly when the measure came to a vote.)The family-owned neighborhood grocery (long known as Palermo’s Thriftway) opened at its currently location in the early 1950s. It began to close seasonally in the early 2000s and was permanently shuttered even before Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 flooded the property. It includes three vacant apartments on the upper floors.__________Sign up for OCNJ Daily’s free newsletter and breaking news alerts“Like” us on Facebooklast_img

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