MARGATE — The Planning Board heard from residents of the one-way horseshoe shaped streets that lead to the entrance to the Margate Food Truck at its meeting Thursday, Nov. 30, but postponed a vote on the application until its next meeting.

Chris Baylinson, the attorney for the property owner, asked for an amended preliminary and final site plan approval to expand the building to add indoor and outdoor seating, a unisex bathroom, and a handicapped parking space.

Several residents spoke in favor of the expansion, while others said it would cause traffic headaches for the narrow, horseshoe-shaped road. If the changes are approved, the only way to access the restaurant by vehicle would be to drive through the neighborhood.

Baylinson said he met with homeowners to hear their suggestions on how to make the street safer and agreed that the drive-thru lane at the rear of the building should be eliminated. The building was once a gas station and then a bank, but the drive-thru area was never used, he said.

“We agreed that having more than one curb cut is not best for the site,” Baylinson said.

The application proposes to eliminate two existing curb cuts on Frontenac Avenue, a one-way street that travels west into the top of the horseshoe, and eliminate the north curb cut on Franklin Avenue, a one-way street that travels east. All ingress and egress to the restaurant would be via the double-wide driveway closest to Ventnor Avenue on the Franklin Avenue side of the property.

Having a curb cut on Ventnor Avenue is not an option because there is a bus stop at that location, and Ventnor Avenue is a county road, which would require county approvals as well.

Baylinson said the property owner would relocate the trash enclosure from the side to the rear driveway to make room for a handicapped parking space.

“This is a minor revision to the plan and makes it a normal commercial building with a parking lot,” Baylinson said.

The building is designed to look like a yellow food truck. The architect said a seamed metal awning-like roof on the addition would make the building look more so, and the roof would be striped to resemble an awning.

The proposed addition to the front of the building would provide 25 indoor seats to what is currently a take-out restaurant with a walk-up window.

An additional 20 seats would be placed on a patio area between the curb and the new glass entrance. With that number of diners, and the proposed revisions, a variance for the number of parking spaces would be unnecessary, Baylinson said.

The changes proposed would create five on-street parking spaces that can be used by residents.

Franklin Avenue resident Jay Weintraub said he has lived on the street for 22 years. 

“At first I was not in favor of it, but after meeting with Mr. Baylinson and agreeing on the safety, the plan makes sense for the neighborhood,” he said.

Bryan Taylor, who operates the Gulf Station across the street, said people cut through his parking lot to access the driveway and avoid going around the horseshoe. He said he has seen some people make a wrong-way turn into Franklin Avenue because the driveway is so close to Ventnor Avenue.

Frontenac Avenue resident Amy Seiden said that 10 parking spaces is not enough for the restaurant, which is busy during the summer.

“Is the chief of police happy with this plan?” she asked. “There’s a bus stop on Ventnor Avenue, which is a problem, and it will become a hangout for kids with seating outside.”

She said the restaurant would generate trash in the neighborhood and attract rodents.

Ron Kupperman, who lives adjacent to the resturant, produced a petition signed by neighbors who are against the expansion. However, the board declined to accept names on a petition into evidence.

“They had the right to be here,” board president Richard Patterson said.

“Seven-eighths of the people on the horseshoe are summer residents, and this is being heard (in the off-season), Kupperman said. “They were vehemently against the plan I showed them last summer.”

He said he was happy to see the driveway would be eliminated. Kupperman said the apron of his driveway is too narrow to get his vehicle in, and if the apron at the rear driveway on Frontenac Avenue was eliminated, the owner should leave enough room for him to maneuver his vehicle into his driveway.

Resident Larry Nicolo said the new site plan was a 1,000 percent improvement.

“This is a better scenario than what is there now. I think it will work,” he said.

The board considered voting on an amended preliminary and final site plan and 16 waivers to allow the revisions, but held off voting until a formal site plan document could be reviewed. The documents were to be submitted to the Planning and Zoning Office by Monday, Dec. 4, Baylinson said.

The vote is expected to come at the next meeting, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14.

At that meeting the board will hear an application for variance relief for parking, fence height and freestanding signage and any other variances and waivers needed to allow Adventure Golf South LP to construct an 18-hole miniature golf course at 9312 Ventnor Ave. near Adams Avenue and next to Wawa, the site of a former bank. 

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