By Donald Wittkowski
A craft beer festival sponsored by a Townsends Inlet restaurant will go on as planned this weekend, despite an “innocent mistake” by Sea Isle City officials in granting approval for the event.
Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House is holding the festival from 2-6 p.m. Saturday on property at 87th Street and Landis Avenue that normally serves as a parking lot for the restaurant.
The festival was discussed during Sea Isle’s Council meeting on Tuesday, mainly because a municipal permit was granted for the event without having it reviewed by the city zoning office.
“It was clearly a miss on our part by not referring it to zoning,” City Business Administrator George Savastano told City Council.
Savastano called it an “innocent mistake” by city employees to issue the permit without first getting it approved by the zoning office.
“We missed it. We caught it, frankly, too late,” he said.
The New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control also had to give its approval for the festival because beer will be consumed.
Savastano noted that the city consulted with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office after the mistake was caught.
The city had the option of appealing to the state, but decided it would be unfair to Doc Magrogan’s to try to stop the event after approvals had already been granted, Savastano said.
However, Savastano repeatedly stressed that the city does not consider approvals for the festival to be “precedent-setting.”
“This same situation will not be approved in the future,” he said.
Although the festival is still planned, city officials will continue to check the paperwork to make sure everything is in order, including the insurance that is required.
“I’m going to confirm that they have all the documents,” Police Chief Tom McQuillen said.
Councilman Frank Edwardi, after first hearing of the city’s mistake, indicated during the Council meeting that he would be in favor of the city canceling the beer festival anyway.
Edwardi, though, said in an interview after the meeting that he would not object to the event if the organizers have the proper insurance.
“I have no problem with them going through with it as long as they have the right insurance,” he said.
Council’s discussion about the festival was prompted by an anonymous email raising concerns about the event. The email was sent to Mayor Leonard Desiderio on July 3 by the “residents of Townsends Inlet,” but had no names attached to it, according to a copy released Tuesday by the city.
Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House, an upscale restaurant that opened in 2016, is part of a sweeping commercial makeover of the sleepy Townsends Inlet section led by developers Christopher Glancey and Bob Morris.
In an interview Tuesday, Glancey said the beer festival will help showcase the restaurant, retail and residential projects that he and Morris have built in the past two years along the Landis Avenue corridor in Townsends Inlet.
“We were just trying to have people come to the neighborhood and see the commercial development,” he said.
Glancey owns the Doc Magrogan’s parking lot at 87th Street and Landis Avenue that will serve as the location for the festival.
The event will be small, with only 200 tickets being sold, Glancey said. In addition to beer tastings, there will be local food vendors, live entertainment and games.
According to the promotional literature for the event, festival-goers will be able to sample more than 40 craft beers.
Glancey said no city officials or local residents have raised any concerns about the festival with him or Doc Magrogan’s.
“We haven’t heard anything from the city. None of this was brought to our attention that the city or the neighborhood had any concerns,” he said, referring to the discussion about the festival at the Council meeting.