Mark Raab, part of a family partnership that owns the Golden Galleon retail center on the Boardwalk, said 11th Street in particular would become an “absolute nightmare” if Soleil is built. Condo owners in Soleil would fall under a 120-day stay limit throughout the year to ensure that their units would be available to hotel guests most of the time. That means the owners would have been limited to 30 days in each season, preventing them from monopolizing their units during the peak summer tourist period. The board’s 7-1 vote against the Soleil Resort, coming at the end of a nearly five-hour meeting Wednesday night, brought threats of a lawsuit by the development group. The developers changed the project to a condo-hotel complex after the Planning Board last year rejected the original plans for a straight condominium. The board stressed that it wanted a resort-style hotel as the centerpiece of the redevelopment zone. Ernst, clearly angered by the vote, accused the board of failing to fulfill its legal mandate. His company, Ernst Brothers Designers and Builders, had teamed up with Select Properties Inc. of Colmar, Pa., to propose a 111-unit condo-hotel at the corner of Ocean Avenue and 11th Street. “My professional opinion is, they didn’t do what they were supposed to do,” he said. “I’m sure they know what is coming,” Joe Ernst, one of the principals of the project, responded when asked whether he will file litigation against the city. Wednesday night’s vote followed two stormy board meetings in January and February on the project. The board delayed a vote in January and February while it collected public feedback and expert testimony from consultants representing both the Soleil and the Flanders. Select Properties and Ernst Brothers have not disclosed the project’s development cost. The companies intended to build Soleil in three stages, starting with a condo tower on Ocean Avenue, followed by the parking garage and ending with another condo tower on 11th Street. “It’s a hotel. It meets the definition,” Soleil’s attorney, Nicholas Talvacchia, told the board in his closing statement. Planning Board members, though, were skeptical. They doubted whether the project would comply with the redevelopment zone’s requirements for a hotel. “This is not a hotel. It’s a condominium,” said Ocean City resident John Stauffer. Other opponents argued that Soleil was a poorly disguised condominium complex, not the condo-hotel that the developers had insisted they wanted to build. Dean Adams was the only board member to vote yes on the Soleil group’s request for preliminary site plan approval. However, Adams said he believed the project barely met the standards for the type of resort hotel that the city wants. The project aroused fierce opposition from the adjacent Flanders Hotel, which operates as a condo-hotel. Soleil was regarded as a potential formidable competitor for the Flanders, one of the city’s most historic and best-known businesses. Representatives of the business community joined with the Flanders condo owners to attack the project. They predicted Soleil would create gridlock on local streets that are already congested during the peak summer tourist season. “It’s a beautiful building. It could be a lot better,” Adams said. John Loeper, the board chairman, asserted that Soleil would not operate as a hotel in “any shape or form.” Culminating months of debate and intense public opposition, the Planning Board rejected a proposed condo-hotel project that was seen as a competitive threat to one of Ocean City’s most iconic businesses. “This, in my opinion, doesn’t even come close to a resort hotel,” board member Gary Jessel said. “I believe this is trying to cram too much into that space,” Coulter told the board members. In response to concerns from the public and the board, the project was revised in February. Changes to Soleil included more directional signs, a new circulation pattern to handle traffic, parking revisions, a more functional hotel lobby, more storage and housekeeping space and public bathrooms for a rooftop pool. The Soleil is proposed for a city redevelopment zone that envisions a first-class, resort-style hotel operating year-round. The developers said the project would comply with those requirements. Condo owners at the Flanders, as they did in two previous Planning Board meetings on the Soleil, turned out in force Wednesday night to criticize the project and urge its rejection. Twenty out of the 21 public speakers who addressed the board expressed opposition.Members of the public packed the Ocean City Planning Board meeting Wednesday night for the vote on the proposed Soleil Resort condo-hotel projectJohn Coulter, a Flanders condo owner and dean of engineering at Pennsylvania’s Lehigh University, argued that Soleil was simply too big for the surrounding area and would “fundamentally change” the character of Ocean City. The developers also eliminated a proposed porte-cochere from the building’s 11th Street frontage. In addition, they had planned to erect a new marquee for the garage and more wayfinding signs to help with traffic flow. Planning Board members voted 7-1 to reject preliminary site plan approval for the condo-hotel project.By Donald Wittkowski
The hosts, meanwhile, also made two changes by recalling Kamo Mokotjo to their midfield, while captain Pontus Jansson was fit again after a minor injury.The Bees went into the game in sixth place, level on points with the Swans but with a superior goal difference.The Swans made an encouraging start to the game against a side tipped by many for one of the play-off spots at the end of the season.But after an even opening 10 minutes, Brentford started to threaten with the influential Said Benrahma displaying some neat touches down Swansea’s right before Watkins created the first real opening of the game when he cut in to flash a deflected shot just wide in the 19th minute.And from the corner, Brentford took a 20th-minute lead when Mathias Jensen’s delivery found Ethan Pinnock totally unmarked at the far post. His header back into a crowded six-yard box was headed home by Mbeumo.Swansea tried to respond immediately as Ayew’s goal-bound shot was blocked after good battling from Surridge.But as Swansea pushed forward in search of the equalizer, they were caught on the counter-attack in the 25th minute when Benrahma drove forward before finding left-back Rico Henry overlapping. Source: swanseacity.com His cross picked out Watkins who guided a difficult finish beyond Freddie Woodman for a 2-0 lead.Brentford continued to display far more pace and purpose going forward, with Connor Roberts being overrun down the right before the visitors rallied five minutes from the break as Tom Carroll came close with a shot blocked inside a crowded area as the Swans forced two corners in quick succession.It was a half that belonged to Brentford though, as they gave themselves a two-goal cushion to take into the second period.Neither side made any changes for the second-half as Brentford started on the front foot by forcing three consecutive corners before a well-worked third saw Benrahma fire just wide.Swansea tried to respond through Bersant Celina wide on the left. The Kosovan cut inside before curling a shot wide of the far post with 56 minutes gone.Mbeumo fired just wide at the other end five minutes later before the Swans had a speculative appeal for a penalty turned down with the packed away end behind the goal claiming handball.The Swans made a double substitution in the 63rd minute as Borja and Aldo Kalulu replaced Surridge and Carroll respectively. Swansea City slipped to defeat at Griffin Park despite staging a brave second-half fightback against in-form Brentford.Having fallen behind to first-half goals from Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins, the Swans rallied to pull one back through Andre Ayew with his 11th goal of the season.But as the Swans pushed hard for the equalizer, they were hit by a late sucker punch from Watkins with his second of the game two minutes from time.Swans boss Steve Cooper made two changes to the side that won 1-0 at Luton Town last time out. It was a second-consecutive victory that pushed the Swans into seventh place.Striker Sam Surridge and central defender Ben Cabango returned from injury to take the places of Borja Baston and Mike van der Hoorn respectively.The latter change was enforced late on as van der Hoorn pulled up in the warm-up with a knee injury so Ben Wilmot went from expecting to be sat on the bench to a starting role.It meant Wayne Routledge was promoted to the substitutes bench. And the move paid off within two minutes as David Raya failed to hold Celina’s fierce shot and Ayew forced his way to the rebound first to apply the finishing touch under pressure.Swansea had the home side rattled for the first time as Jake Bidwell and the lively Kalulu threatened before Wilmot and Matt Grimes picked up yellow cards.There was far more attacking intent from Swansea now as they went in search of the equalizer with Barrie McKay replacing George Byers with five minutes remaining.But as Swansea pushed forward they were hit on the counter for the second time in the game as Watkins raced clear two minutes from time to slip the ball beyond Woodman.