Height Of Downtown Apartments Debated

The apartment complex and boardwalk will go in this area downtown. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  TOMS RIVER – A change in a proposed apartment complex that would drop the height of the building to six stories was agreed upon by the Township Council.

  According to the town’s redevelopment attorney, Frances Ciesla McManimon, a partner at McManimon, Scotland and Baumann, there were several changes to reduce the impact of the apartment complex. This included making it no more than six stories and removing the pool.

  This property is where the Red Carpet Inn used to be. The township bought it, knocked it down, and assigned Capodagli Associates to be the redeveloper. A redeveloper is a company that changes what was already there. Capodagli had plans for two 10-story apartment towers, with ground level retail and a parking garage that would also serve other areas of downtown.

  During a recent Township Council meeting, the redevelopment agreement was going to be changed to reflect the new, shortened plan.


  Two councilmen, Daniel Rodrick and Jeffrey Lamb, tried to have the new agreement tabled until it could be discussed further. Tabling means that the vote is held off until a later date.

  Rodrick noted that there were deadlines looming that could block the plan entirely. However, officials said that if this change was blocked, it would likely default to the 10-story plan.

  This issue was a major argument during the primary election this year. Mayor Maurice Hill was challenged by Rodrick and Geri Ambrosio, former president of the Toms River Regular Republican Club. Ultimately, Rodrick won the election and will represent the Republicans on the ballot in November.

  “The election was a referendum on this project,” Rodrick said. People voted against Hill because they don’t want these apartments. He questioned why the town would allow changes to be made if the residents don’t want it at all.

  Council President Matthew Lotano said that the developer already has approval for 10 stories. Now, there’s a proposal for six.

  McManimon said that this new amendment only impacts the agreement between the town and the redeveloper for the overall scheme of things, not the details. These would need to be approved by the Planning Board.

Redevelopment attorney Frances Ciesla McManimon describes the change in building plans. (Screenshot by Chris Lundy)

  Ambrosio also commented during the meeting. She said that the first time anyone had heard of the change from 10 stories to six was when Hill held up the new plan during a campaign debate, or perhaps at a fundraiser for him that night.

  Resident Irene Watson talked about how there should be more public input.

  “Let’s get this room filled…and see what residents want,” she said.

  Resident Dana Tormollen asked what would happen legally if the town didn’t accept the new, six-story plan.

  McManimon said the already approved plan of 10 stories would go through. It could also open the town up to litigation.

  Councilman David Ciccozzi, who is a planning board member who works in property management, said over the decades, “I’ve seen everything leave.” Downtown Toms River is dying a very slow death.

  The downtown area needs an influx of new residents to visit the businesses there. Not to mention the developer will be investing $5 million in public improvements such as a boardwalk (without rides or games) and amphitheater.

  Philip Garfinkle, who gave his address as North Beach, NJ owns commercial property on Water Street and said that the apartment complex would be advantageous to the downtown area.

  Ultimately, Rodrick and Lamb’s motion to delay didn’t get any support. The rest of the council approved the amendment to allow six stories.