By Margie Plunkett
Residents can build bigger beach houses in Manalapan as a result of the wide-ranging zoning ordinance the Town Commission passed on second reading in May.
After extensive discussion over several meetings, the commission decided to compromise on a 750 square foot building, raising the square footage of a beach home from a previous limit of 500 square feet, but not going as far as the proposed 1,000 square feet.
The beach house debate brought in environmental and aesthetic concerns on one side and the right of coastal homeowners to build to fit their needs on the other. A particularly strenuous argument was posed for 1,000 square foot structures by residents with larger properties that could more easily accommodate the larger structures.
The Commission tweaked some beach house language in the ordinance to indicate that the structures must be heavily screened from the road and neighbors, and landscaped on the ocean side. Standalone decks cannot be visible to road, neighbors or on the ocean side.
The ordinance addressed a variety of zoning modifications, including to allow six-foot dune walkovers; gas-fueled fire pits as large as eight feet on beach properties; 1,000-square foot decks for beach properties with no beach house; and hedge heights rising to eight feet rather than the previous four in some areas.
While the just-based ordinance removes some multifamily uses in one area of town, commissioners have sent a resolution to the zoning board to review whether to continue to allow the use of townhouses in two districts.