By Donald Wittkowski
Sea Isle City is nearing “the end of the road” for its updated master plan, a blueprint that will guide economic development, housing construction, transportation and other key issues over the next 10 years.
Councilman John Divney, who also sits on the city’s Planning Board, said the most recent revisions to the document will be posted on the municipal website for the public to review over the next 30 days.
At this stage, the master plan is in draft form. Divney said he anticipates there will be more public discussion during the Planning Board’s Nov. 11 meeting, followed by a vote to formally adopt the document in December.
“We’re coming to the end of the road,” Divney said while giving a briefing on the master plan during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
The master plan is being updated for the first time in 10 years. It includes a series of recommendations to address the city’s overdevelopment, parking shortages and other pressing needs.
Considered a blueprint for the future, the document proposes sweeping zoning changes aimed at reducing density and parking problems in both the commercial and residential areas of the city.
The Planning Board has been working on the master plan for more than a year. A public hearing was held in September to give local residents and business owners a chance to comment.
Planning Board Chairwoman Patricia Urbaczewski pledged that all of the public comments collected during the hearing will be considered before the board votes to adopt the plan.
After the Planning Board grants its approval, the master plan will go to City Council for its consideration, including possible changes, before it takes a vote.
Sea Isle last updated its master plan in 2007. Under New Jersey law, municipalities are required to update their master plans every 10 years. Sea Isle is actually a year ahead of schedule, which gives it some flexibility for approving the document.
The plan looks at critical issues, such as planning, zoning, economic development, housing, the business community, transportation, parking and recreation.
The draft version of the master plan incorporates many of the recommendations from a community survey last year that generated more than 3,300 responses from the public.
In the master plan, some of the city’s commercial areas would be rezoned as residential to curb overdevelopment. The plan also includes a series of proposed requirements in residential and commercial areas that would lead to more parking.
Sea Isle’s year-round population, currently about 2,100, has fallen 25 percent in recent years, but the number of summer residents has increased significantly, according to Maser Consulting, a firm that is helping the city to update the master plan.
The updated plan reflects the changing demographics, including the city’s aging population base and the declining number of school children.