Photo above at Nagle’s on Main Avenue in Ocean Grove. A special moment in the life of our historic town. 2015. By Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff. ©
One of our goals on Blogfinger, since our beginning in 2009 has been to dispel out-of-date stereotypes about Ocean Grove. We have been interested in the demographics, life-styles and dynamics in town, and it has been a fascinating topic since those variables keep changing.
If you all reflect on why you love this town and why it is unique, then perhaps you will take an active interest in what’s going on over at the “mother ship,” ie the Neptune Township Municipal Building which has shown no maternal instincts towards Ocean Grove.
As a result, we have questionable municipal land use decisions including zoning designations, subdivisions, and multi-residential construction approvals without parking. And there is the 800 pound gorilla in the room—the North End Redevelopment Plan.
The next important event on the municipal land use horizon is the December 17th meeting* of the “streets and parking committee” of the NJ Site Improvement Advisory Board (SIAB) where Neptune will try to convince the State committee that the entire town of Ocean Grove should be exempt from state parking (RSIS) regulations. The meeting was scheduled after the Neptune planner satisfied all the requirements of the SIAB, after twice being denied because of incomplete applications.
The Township planner will explain that the exemption is needed to preserve Ocean Grove’s historical integrity. But those reasons have been contrived and are not true. Let’s see what Neptune has to say this time.
Neptune wants to be awarded a “special area parking standard” so that mandatory off-street parking (RSIS) is no longer required by the State when new construction is done, such as with the building of a condominium project. Up to now, the Township has ignored the State RSIS parking rules . If the Township’s request is now granted, Neptune can continue allowing new construction without disobeying State laws regarding parking.
Since Neptune routinely follows its own ordinances which forbid off street parking, developers have had a field day in our town building condos or “community residences” (as at Mary’s Place) without parking, in every location where an old building is ripe for conversion or replacement after a fire, as we saw with prior condos, such as the large one on Ocean Pathway near the Albatross (a place, by the way, which has developers drooling as they envision condos without parking there.) Even Committeeman Randy Bishop supposedly wants to turn his small inn into condos.
However, the harsh reality is that whether Neptune wins or loses their request in December in Trenton, the condominium drumbeat will continue, abetted by the Township Committee and the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association. (*Neptune withdrew that application when they learned that OG citizens would be there to protest. They never reapplied. We continue the discussion here in 2016/17 for educational purposes.)
Don’t let that Neptune application fool you when they argue that OG is “all built out” and therefore no need to worry about future condos. On the contrary, there are quite a few potential condo locations around town. How about the Warrington? Will that become a hotel without parking, or will it become a flop house without parking, or will it be condos without parking?
We cannot count on property owners to worry about the town the way the Park View’s new owner is promising single family homes over on Seaview Ave. If he changes his mind and asks the Township to let him build condos, and if they approve (as they tend to do,) then we will have to change the name of that street.
Since there seems to be no obvious reason for requesting the new designation, we do have to wonder what the motive is for the Township to go after the “special area standard.” A skeptic might wonder if the State is being hoodwinked into approving the application, because if they do, the North End developers can then manipulate the zoning to cancel the Area in Need of Redevelopment designation at the North End and then trash all plans to include off street parking as currently proposed in the NERP.
So, what is the bottom line? The only way to prevent Ocean Grove from slipping and sliding into irrelevance is for the citizens to demand that Neptune zoning for all residential districts in the Grove be changed immediately to detached single family houses and no off-street parking and no curb cuts. This will eliminate all future land use problems and will increase the numbers of on-street parking spots.
Can that be done? Yes it can if the HOA and the citizens create a show of force and make that demand loud and clear. And what about Kevin Chamber’s lawsuit on Main Avenue? If he wins, then all bets are off.
And as for the lifestyle here. Most of us know what we want the future Grove to be, and the key is single family zoning. After that the town will be saved.
–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @ Blogfinger.
—Jack Bredin, Researcher
MERLE HAGGARD and the PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND —sing about losing the blues.