Cape May Planning Board Approves Montreal Inn and Guest House Improvements Amid Parking and Seating Debates

The Cape May Planning Board recently approved a series of improvements for the Montreal Inn and an associated guest house, following discussions centered on parking requirements, outdoor seating regulations, and the overall impact on the historic seaside town’s character. The project’s approval came with conditions related to parking, seating arrangements, environmental recommendations, and compliance with historic and zoning regulations.

Madison Cape May R LLC’s application for the Montreal Inn project, located at the corner of Stockton and Madison, proposed architectural and functional enhancements including the removal of existing decks, stairs, and landings; construction of a small addition to convert employee housing into guest rooms; and changes to walkways, landscaping, parking, and pool areas. The plan also aimed to cover an exposed deck and alter signage, with the addition of a restaurant, modifications to the pool equipment building, and extension of the roof for a lounge space. Anthony Monzo and Mars Clark presented the site plans and addressed board inquiries about room reconfiguration, signage, parking deficiencies, and construction phasing.

The debate on the interpretation of the outdoor seating ordinance was a focal point, with board members deliberating the code’s definition of seating—particularly in outdoor areas—and its implications for parking calculations. Questions were raised about whether lounge seating for food service on the proposed restaurant’s patio extension should be classified as dining seats or lounge areas and whether they should be calculated in parking requirements. The board discussed implications of adding a roof to the dining area on parking needs, safety concerns for staff, and the potential impact on the area’s character.

Parking requirements were scrutinized throughout the discussion, with the applicant proposing to increase off-street parking spaces from 88 to 91. However, concerns were raised about the lack of a buffer planning strip for the new parking spaces near Stockton Avenue at the guest house and the potential impact of parking spaces within front and side yard setbacks. The variance sought for building-mounted signage, exceeding the permitted square footage, also sparked debate over its impact on the visual environment.

Board member Michael Yeager expressed frustration over the antiquated code leading to frequent variances. Richard Lundholm echoed this sentiment, noting the challenge of enforcing the code strictly or allowing variances for properties predating zoning regulations. The historical context of variances and their impact on parking in Cape May were discussed, with the board members emphasizing the need to balance the intensification of the property with the existing parking deficiency.

Andy Schaefer, representing the applicant, presented variances sought for setbacks, lot coverage, and reconstruction of the trash enclosure and stairs at the guest house. The board sought clarification on certain variances, like setback requirements and lot coverage, and debated the need for reexamining ordinances to address parking issues.

The discussions also included inputs from the Police Department, Public Works Department, Fire Department, and Shade Tree Commission, all providing recommendations or approvals with specific conditions. The Environmental Commission recommended approval on the condition that the proposed landscape plan incorporate native non-invasive species and the installation of electrical vehicle charging stations.

Despite the approval of the project, concerns were voiced about the impact of large events on the community and the need for consideration for residents in the application, with Marilyn Reed highlighting the lack of offerings for residents in the application. The board eventually voted in favor of approving the site plan with the specified conditions, recognizing the overall positive impact on the city.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Zachary Mullock
Planning Board Officials:
Marisa McCorkle, Michael Yeager, William Bezaire, Dennis Crowley, Robert Gorgone, Richard Lundholm, Marilyn Reed, Michael Jones, Gary Padussis, Dennis Crippen

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