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Township Officials Going After Longtime Eyesores

Beachwood Shopping Center, Santo Marina site under code enforcement scrutiny

 

Are you tired of looking at the battered hulk known as the Beachwood Shopping Center when you cross Beachwood's boundary and enter Berkeley Township?

So are township officials.

So sometime next week - unless things improve - summonses will be issued for the current condition of the site off Route 9 South, Township Council President James J. Byrnes said.

"Something has got to be done soon," Byrnes said this weekend.

The shopping center - which is actually in Berkeley, not Beachwood - has been largely vacant for decades, slowly deteriorating from the elements. Plants and weeds are growing inside some of the stores. The show "Life After People" could film here.

Developer Donato Donofrio has yet to sign an agreement with the Johnson family, which has owned the property since the 1960s. The two parties have to agree not only on a purchase price, but cleanup costs for the site, which comes with a myriad of environmental problems.

The Beachwood Shopping Center is ground zero in the township's massive Town Center Redevelopment Plan. Town officials rejoiced when the State Planning Commission members unanimously approved the plan in Trenton on July 16.

But they are running out of patience with the condition of the site - the so-called "gateway" to Berkeley Township.

"No matter who owns it, it's an unsafe structure," Byrnes said this weekend. "That's my concern."

Code enforcement officials are also clamping down on Ray Masucci - the owner of the old Santo Marina site. Masucci received a letter from the township last week advising him to get going on cleaning up the site, which was neglected for years by the previous owner.

"We gave him a shot, but he needs to continue," Byrnes said.

The Board of Adjustment in July approved Masucci's controversial amended plan to redevelop the aging marina, which sits at the mouth of the Toms River.

The approval came after two lengthy special hearings on "The Cove On The Toms River At Berkeley." Residents in the neighborhood came out in force to object to the plan, which required a number of variances.

Masucci - who bought the property from Paul Santo two years ago for $1.9 million - put up plastic orange fencing and removed a number of abandoned boats this summer. Neighbors had complained about unsafe conditions the site for years.

But the battered docks, old office building, trailer, high grass and weeds and construction debris are still on the site.

Township officials recently stepped up code enforcement efforts, and began going after violators throughout the township. But it's not fair to require homeowners to maintain their properties and not target large landowners as well, Byrnes said.

"We are going after other people just for long grass," he said.

gene smith September 18, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I commend that business for expanding in a town where nobody builds anything but storage facilities and Banks. Give them a break. How about all the blight on Route 9. Not the hard working small business owners..No wonder nobody wants to make this the home of their business large or small.. lol
skizma September 18, 2012 at 11:29 PM
no one has the you know what's to make someone get it taken care of. No one. Another example of the politicians and paid officials doing nothing.
Keeping whats mine September 19, 2012 at 10:21 PM
They have been doin nothin for years. Suckin the public teet.
Icdedppl September 22, 2012 at 10:42 AM
This sounds like the old Foodtown site in Brick. The owner tried to sell it to Home depot but the town didn't want another depot so it was condemed and the town took it over then sold it to a developer. That old building was falling apart, the roof caved in but the developer ran into hard times with our crapy economy so the town paid to tear it down. This old plaza on Rt 9 is probably falling apart as well an should be razed. If it's as ratty as explained it needs to come down. The new owner can start with a clean slate. Code officials should know it's condition being OK, or unsafe with the latter meaning it should be torn down. Town officials need to take the proper steps, but 1st they need to step up to the plate. They'll never get anything done sitting on their butts in the dug out watching from the side lines...
foggyworld October 02, 2012 at 09:40 PM
There never has been code enforcement but bet you anything this is just another way to hit people with fines to provide the powers that be with money. The shopping center is a case unto itself so I will not address it because it reeks of politics. But many of the eyesores that are growing in number are happening because people are unemployed and just getting by. What a perfect time to go after them. Where were these folks when times were good? Foreclosed houses I guess are the responsibilities of banks and we all know just how civic minded they are. But the banks around here probably aren't doing all that well either so sure, go after them and they will leave town with all the other businesses. How about re-zoning the few inches of Route 9 that were forced to become commercial and potential empty stores, and apply for some Green Acres funding? We really do need trees.

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