Bonky’s move gets deferred by Ocean View Planning & Zoning

The Ocean View Planning & Zoning Commission this week deferred voting on a revision to the site plan for Bonky’s Ice Cream & Snoballs.

The business is looking to move east from its current location across from Atlantic Auto on Route 26, just inside Millville town limits, to 44 Atlantic Avenue, on the other side of Route 26 in Ocean View, in a small building behind Ocean View Deli.

During the hearing on June 21, Jim Lober, P.E., director of engineering for Kercher Engineering, provided comments to the commission regarding the application.

Loeber said that, while there was a survey provided to the Town in May, he believed they also needed items such as providing the required parking calculation for each existing use, along with providing a separate calculation for the proposed use of the dwelling at the rear of the property.

A grading plan would need to be provided (and ADA compliant), he said, and would need to receive approval from the Sussex Conservation District for any proposed disturbances and/or additional impervious cover.

Loeber also commented that he would like the Town to be provided with an assessment of the existing gross floor area on-site, including the specific uses and the total gross floor area associated with each.

Loeber said the last application that came to the Town for the “relatively large site” was in 1988.

“Without detail of what is exactly out there, we can’t really pass judgement,” he said.

Keith Gordon, who owns Bonky’s with his wife, Bonnie, said they had submitted the plans and were told they were required to have handicapped parking spots.

“I felt we did that,” he said. “We’re going to do everything by code… Our first job is to keep everyone safe — both our employees, customers, everyone. We sell ice cream, but we’re here to make smiles. We’d like to do that here in Ocean View.”

Gordon asked how many spots would be required for them to open on the parcel, to which Loeber said the applicant would have to check the code.

“You need to have somebody sit down with your plan and the code and say, ‘There are 3,500 square feet of office use, there are 2,200 square feet of restaurant, there are 1,700 square feet of an ice cream parlor’; and then go through the code and say, ‘3,500 square feet of office requires 52 parking spaces, 2,200 square feet of restaurant requires 15 more parking spaces…’ That would be submitted along with your site plan.”

Gordon voiced his displeasure at not being informed of the written letter Loeber had provided to the Town with his notes regarding the application.

“I don’t know why we didn’t know this so that we could’ve been better prepared for this … meeting,” he said.

“Unfortunately, that is part of the risk you take on when you do one of these things on your own, and I understand,” said Town Solicitor Eric Hacker. “It’s not your job to know the zoning code. If you choose to undertake a zoning matter, the fact that you’re not well-versed in the zoning code does not exempt you from the requirements… We can’t go off of what you think it’s going to look like at the end of the day.”

Loeber said that, because the applicant is proposing to change the use of existing square footage, that kicks in code requirements to ensure for the proper flow of traffic and impervious cover and “all that goes along with newly proposed use.”

Loeber added that, because the building is part of a larger parcel, with other buildings in use, it brings the entire parcel’s code compliance into question.

David Long, Sr., who has owned the property since the 1950s, said it has been continuously occupied by renters for the last 35 years at least.

“We’ve always gone by the rules and regulations. We’ve always paid all the taxes and fees. And we’ve never seen anything like this in our lives,” said Long of the Town’s process. “I’d like to be out of Ocean View, to tell you the truth, when I see things like this… I don’t agree with what you’re doing.”

“This commission has no authority to change the rules,” responded Hacker.

The commission voted 5-0 to table the application until the Town is asked to place it back on the agenda.

“We’re too late for the season,” said Gordon. “We’re a three-month business.”

By Maria Counts
Staff Reporter