By Antigone Barton
MANALAPAN — When is a beach house a house on the beach?
Is a kitchen the difference between a cabana and a home?
Perhaps size really does matter, if, as one zoning commissioner asserted, “anything larger than 1,000 square feet is a house.”
Until those are decided, the difference between a dwelling and a well-equipped changing room may be as subtle as the inflection with which zoning commissioners at their December meeting said “beach house.” Preparing final recommendations for a January workshop at which the matter will be considered, commissioners focused on the underlying concerns about beach houses.
Those included what they look like from the road and other homes — invisible was said to be preferable — and whether they can serve as full-time separate residences — they’re not supposed to.
Zoning commissioners began discussion of beach-house size last spring at the request of the Town Commission. In meetings since, they have discussed a formula to determine the allowed size of a lot by multiplying the average width by the average depth, multiplying the result by 1.25 and dividing that by 30.
They also approved a plan that would allow kitchens and sleeping quarters, and would prohibit selling or renting beach houses separately from the rest of a property.
In the December zoning meeting, Commissioner G. Kent Shortz brought further suggestions to limit the height of cabanas to no more than 13 feet above the top of the road, and require them to be set back at least 35 feet from the public right of way, but both were voted down. His suggestion that the commission recommend cabanas be setback at least 20 feet from neighboring properties passed.
Commissioner George Valassis, who said that he had one of the largest lots, but a beach house so small “you can barely use it,” suggested that each property be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Commissioners will next discuss their recommendations and take public feedback at a 10 a.m., Jan. 7 workshop at Town Hall. The decision of what distinguishes a beach house from a beach home will then rest with the Town Commission.