The Belmar Borough Council on Wednesday approved a $7.1 million redevelopment plan for its boardwalk area, which includes the construction of a pair of two-story pavilions.
The council voted 4-1 in favor of the plan. Councilman Jim Bean, a consistently vocal opponent, cast the sole vote against.
The vote came at the end of a brief public comment period, where one person asked a technical question about the plan. No one spoke either for or against the measure.
“We own the property,’’ Bean said, prior to casting his vote. “There is no need for this.’’
The vote may not be the end of the redevelopment discussion, however, because the outcome of two lawsuits filed by a group of opponents was not immediately known late Wednesday night.
A group calling itself "Let The Citizens Decide'' last month filed two lawsuits against the redevelopment plan’s approval. The first seeks to put the a question on whether to construct the pavilions on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. The second asks the court to rule whether the plan to pay for the pavilions out of the borough's Beach Utility money and an increase in beach fees complies with the Public Trust Doctrine and state law.
The status of the suits was unclear late Wednesday.
Putting a referendum question on the November ballot, while not without precedent, would not be easy, election officials have said, because the ballots have already been printed and voting machines have already been set up for those ballots.
If the group wins a court order to have a question placed on the ballot, someone would be responsible for paying for all new ballots in Belmar, County Clerk M. Claire French has said.
The plan calls for rebuilding the Taylor pavilion at 5th Avenue near Silver Lake and another pavilion at 10th Avenue. Both structures would be two stories tall, according to the plans. The previous structures were single stories.
After public outcry, the borough scrapped its original plans to have another two-story pavilion at 8th Avenue, with a rooftop mini-golf facility.
The 10th Avenue pavilion would have lifeguard and other storage on its beach level, with roll-up doors. The boardwalk, or first floor, would house 815 square feet for concessions, and rooms for a police substation, EMS with exam room, and lifeguard office, the plans say.
The Taylor Pavilion is proposed with a second-floor room available for community events as a banquet room. The room will include a kitchen, bathroom and balcony, to accommodate 200 people within the 4,300-square-foot room. The first-floor will have a 1,400 square-foot concession space, badge sales, seniors’ club storage, a women’s club kitchen, a coat-room and lobby, according to the plans.
But the plan, according to the citizens group, gives Doherty power to convey or lease public property to a designated redeveloper without public bid.