Tommy’s Plan for Expansion, Outdoor Games Is Challenged

first_imgBy Liz SheehanSEA BRIGHT-Who knew that bocce and cornhole could generate so much controversy?Residents of the Nautilus Condominiums in the borough did, and are continuing to fight the plans of Tommy Bonfiglio, the owner of the popular Tommy’s Tavern + Tap on Ocean Avenue, to place a bocce court and several cornhole tossing games in an area that borders the Shrewsbury River behind the restaurant, adjacent to their home.The bocce court was put in play when the restaurant opened in the summer of 2015. But after noise complaints, the bocce balls were stored away last summer. Outdoor noise is new to the neighborhood, since the building that houses Tommy’s used to serve as the town’s post office until it was wrecked in Super Storm Sandy.Now, Bonfiglio wants to resume the games. It’s part of his application before the Unified Planning Board to utilize a portion of the restaurant’s second floor for private parties, and add a 29-space parking lot next to his restaurant. (Before Sandy, it was a Sunoco gas station.)The area where the bocce court is located, Bonfiglio said, is fenced in with gates and would be closed at 10 p.m. The idea is to give patrons waiting for tables something to do, instead of crowding the hostess desk and bar in the front.At the board meeting on Tuesday night, Bonfiglio said that no food or drinks would be served in the fenced area but patrons could carry drinks there from the bar, and there would be several high top tables in the area for standing, not sitting.He estimated that 79 people could be accommodated in the area, but board member David DeSio said he observed around 100 people there, when the area was open.Dennis McLynn, who owns a condominium at the Nautilus, said he had spoken to Bonfiglio two years ago and asked him why he had put the bocce court at the north end of the open area in back of the restaurant, right next to the property line adjacent to the Nautilus, rather than at the south end, which would be a longer distance from the condominium and cause less noise for the residents there. He said Bonfiglio responded that the south end was reserved for a future tiki bar.McLynn said he fears that next year Bonfiglio will be looking for board approval to add a tiki bar to the riverside site.Stephen Raciti, the architect for the Tommy’s project, outlined the changes he had made to alleviate the noise from the restaurant, including soundproofing on a canopy on the rear outside dining area that faces toward the Nautilus, and soundproofing in a portion of the roof of the canopy.Ron Gasiorowski, an attorney representing Hank Gelhaus, who lives across the river from Tommy’s and objects to the noise, questioned Marc Leber, the engineer for Bonfiglio’s application. He asked if he was aware that Bonfiglio attended a meeting held by Monmouth County officials in April, at which the plans for moving the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge were discussed. Leber said he was not aware of it.At the meetings concerning the moving of the bridge, the county has said that the parking lot now being used to fulfill the parking requirements for Tommy’s application to make the upstairs room into a space for private parties was necessary for bridge plans to accommodate left hand turns from Ocean Avenue, for access to the Dunkin’ Donuts area.Bonfiglio’s attorney Martin McGann said after the last board meeting that the county had told him it would not stop his client with proceeding with his plans to use the lot for the restaurant’s parking application. “It’s our property,” he said.The board will continue hearings on the application on January 24.last_img

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