SEA BRIGHT - The owners of a popular Jersey Shore restaurant that was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy are trying to bring it back, but their plans to make the business bigger are being met with opposition.
The Mad Hatter bar and restaurant in Sea Bright currently stands vacant and full of mold. Owners Scott and Amy Kelly say that the floodwaters of Sandy ravaged the three-story structure.
The Kellys are seeking variances to make the building larger, with outdoor decking and multiple bars to handle more occupants. They say it must be bigger to satisfy new elevation requirements.
However, not all of the neighbors in the area are happy with this idea. The Sea Bright planning board held its fifth meeting Tuesday night to discuss the proposal.
“We are opposed by some neighbors and the legal process allows this to be drawn out,” Scott Kelly says.
Among the opposition is the owner of a nearby vacant lot, formerly a lumber yard. Her attorney did not provide much information, but the word around town is that she would like to build luxury condos on the lot and feels that the larger Mad Hatter would decrease the property value.
Another neighbor opposes the plan because her backyard is next to the bar and she is afraid it will attract a rowdy crowd and heavy traffic.
The Kellys did have a lot of support at Tuesdays night’s meeting, such as from the owner of Northshore, a neighboring business.
“Anything that's going to enhance my business, it's a commercial business, I'm for,” says Brian George.
Another meeting with the planning board is scheduled for April 26.