TOMS RIVER, NJ – It’s not the first time a mayor in Toms River, previously known as Dover Township wanted to turn the quaint downtown village along the waterfront into a city.
Back in the 1970s, plans were announced to build a huge 10-story apartment building at the site of what is today the Spinnaker Cove Condominiums. That plan was shot down. Instead, a more reasonable and conforming project was built in its place.
Now, Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill and several township council members are at it again. They want to transform the quaint Toms River Downtown area into a city.
To kickstart the transformation, Hill awarded an exclusive contract to Capodaglia Properties, a developer known for building urban centers throughout New Jersey, to build a 10-story twin-tower apartment building on the site of an existing piece of land owned by the township.
That plan has been met with critics, but perhaps none more familiar with the situation than former township clerk and renowned township historian Mark Mutter.
Last night, he spoke in opposition to Hill’s plan to transform the Toms River waterfront and downtown area.
The former mayor then criticized Hill’s plan because it did not include any input from residents. The plan, devised by Hill and his allies on the governing body, was void of any public discussions or information-gathering public summit to get public input.
He added that Toms River is a village with over 200 years of history dating back to the battle at the blockhouse against the British army during the American Revolution, and any decisions to change that should include public input.
He asked the council to put a resolution to move forward on the project on hold, instead asking the council to hold public meetings to let the public decide what should be built, if anything, on public land in the downtown area.
Mutter was met with a round of applause from the audience.
The township council agreed to table the resolution until the April 26th meeting.
Toms River Councilman Daniel Rodrick has frequently expressed opposition to the overdevelopment of the downtown area with massive apartment buildings. Rodrick said he would like the township to consider alternatives to 10-story buildings, such as nightlife and entertainment businesses, that would draw visitors to the downtown area.
Rodrick is expected to challenge Mo Hill for the mayor’s seat in June’s Republican primary election, but he has yet to make an official announcement.