Village View Residences condominium developer Michael Schwantes and the project architect presented to the Egg Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday regarding a proposed height variance. Schwantes envisions a rooftop terrace for residents of the structure set to go up at the site of Mueller’s Mini Mart. The roofline would be under Egg Harbor’s 35-foot height cap, but a stairwell and elevator shaft were designed to top out at 47 feet-four inches. Schwantes wants the terrace to include a green space and viewing area so that all of the building’s occupants can enjoy a westward view out over the harbor. The elevator was suggested so that everyone could take advantage of the rooftop amenities.
Both the developer’s lawyer, Andrew Wagener, and village counsel, James Kalny, said it is disputed whether roof access is required for Americans With Disabilities Act compliance. The board had three criteria they were legally obligated to deliberate on for the appeal: (1) Would granting the variance help solve an undue hardship, (2) is the unnecessary hardship created by the property, and (3) would granting the variance be detrimental to the area in general?
The zoning board voted against the appeal, 3-2. Member Mack Bonk spoke for the majority, saying that using the roof for a gathering place to ensure a view for all residents is unnecessary for the complex to fulfill its designed purpose.
The five-member panel is made up only of Egg Harbor residents, not elected officials, and meets as needed. It was the first gathering for the zoning board since 2015.
*Photo of Michael Schwantes courtesy of Creative Business Services website.