By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger
The owner of 27 Heck Avenue, Ocean Grove wanted to obtain 2 variances. The first was to get permission to build a new driveway. The second was to allow the driveway “structure” to extend into the flare where it would cross property owned by the CMA. The room was filled for the Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing, and quite a few Grovers were present.
The stage was set for a chaotic session when the lawyer for the applicant brought on a historic preservation expert to be the lead-off witness who would try to offer a historic perspective and to convince the ZBA that a new driveway should be permitted at 27 Heck Avenue.
Using presentation boards that no one in the audience could see, the consultant tried to persuade everyone that allowing that driveway, which would stick out into the OG sacred-cow—the flare, would somehow be a good thing for our town’s historical preservation.
Her confusing presentation was interrupted by some Board members, and then later she was challenged by members of the public. There was plenty of negativity towards the application, and no one seemed to believe that the driveway should be allowed. The consultant said that her research included reading “all the Blogfinger posts,” a revelation resulting in a burst of laughter in the audience.
The shaky presentation left swirling clouds of doubt causing a bit of chaos in the discussion and questioning. And other planned witnesses never got a chance to speak, and members of the public who had opinions, never got a chance to express them. The lawyer for the applicant, Jennifer Krimko, was on the defensive and found herself actually giving testimony, which isn’t supposed to happen.
What we did learn was that there were many driveways in town, but almost all ended at a garage. This proposal would just offer a private parking space for the homeowners without a garage, a layout only seen twice before in the Grove.
In addition, the ZBA attorney, Monica Kowalski, established that the original situation at block 210, lot 5.05, going back 50 years, did not include an actual driveway and was, at best, a driveway “apron.” There wasn’t enough room for a driveway due to the presence of a Sampler kitchen building in that location..
And the current “curb cut” may not be an actual curb cut after all. There even was some doubt that the original “driveway” was ever used to park cars and that it was in reality merely a dropping- off point for trucks to pull up to the Sampler’s loading dock.
So the idea that this new driveway would be a continuation of something historic did not seem to hold up.
The HOA talking points never got off the ground, because the case for the new driveway never had a chance to be fully developed.
Actually, one of the best moments at the meeting was when Jack Bredin went to the microphone wearing his Blogfinger T shirt. Other Grovers who went to the mike to ask questions of the witness included Kevin Chambers, Ken Buckley, Debby Osepchuk, Joyce Klein, Jay Shapiro, George Germann, and Dan Beaman.
Chairman Paul Dunlap had his hands full trying to control a session characterized by harsh words, shifting topics, strange questions, misunderstandings, straying from the rules, and deficiency of focus. It was a bit of a circus—the only thing missing was somebody selling hot dogs or knishes; and maybe some Dr. Browns cream soda.
At any rate, it was satisfying to see Grovers showing up to protect their town’s promised historic future.
“I would do most anything at any time.” Wow, nothing sad about that.