By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @ Blogfinger.net
We know that Sprout Co. is looking to buy the Laingdon Hotel on Ocean Avenue presumably to turn it into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility of some sort; the details have not been spelled out. The person who owns the property has said nothing publicly about his plans, but that is par for the course when it comes to developers in the Grove, including those who live here. We understand that the sale is contingent on getting zoning approval, but we do not know that for sure.
Even though the Zoning Board of Adjustment has yet to hear the application, Blogfinger has been hearing from quite a few Grovers on the subject. For the week of January 2, we had over 5,000 visits, and this topic has garnered the most interest. You should all read the article below and the 30 comments that have appeared so far. Clearly this will be a hot topic. Please continue to comment at that location but you can also comment under this editorial.
Even though Sprout hasn’t offered any details, we can already see that there are a variety of ways to think about the matter. To begin with, Jack Bredin has been focusing on the zoning issues because there is no provision in our zoning ordinances for a drug rehab facility, and even if Sprout wins an approval of a rehab facility at the ZBA, there may be an opportunity to take an appeal to the Township Committee or file directly to the Superior Court.
Some Grovers object to the idea for fear that such a facility could promote crime in the town and adverely affect quality of life here.
Still other Grovers are worried about our historic designations, while another group sees more parking and congestion issues at one of the most sensitive locations in town.
Homeowners worry about a precedent that could give rise to a variety of use-variances to cause mini-Sprouts to germinate around town in the numerous multifamily buildings in the Grove that would be susceptible to conversion to all sorts of enterprises besides condos, such as “community shelters,” as in Mary’s Place where the owners were able to put together two single family lots to create a ten bedroom spa-like enterprise for cancer patients.
Some are afraid that the Laingdon case will be a pivot point that would begin to change the nature of the town and send it spinning downhill.
So, because there are so many ways to look at this fascinating situation, we decided to do a general opinion poll that presents a general question regarding drug rehab facilities in OG.
And don’t forget that although a large number of Grovers will object to the idea, there is an argument to be made for encouraging such a project.
Once we get a feel for public opinion in general on this topic we can begin to drill down to look at more specific viewpoints from the residents of this very unique Jersey Shore town where some Grovers now see a threat to its future.
Is the past prologue, or is it the present in this case? This might be a good time to choose”unsure” in the poll. As more discussion occurs, some of you might change your minds. We could repeat the poll later.