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Archive for the ‘Aurora Hotel in Ocean Grove’ Category

Aurora under construction. Paul Goldfinger photo. July, 2019. Much of the decorations have been removed  (temporarily we assume.)

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net

In March, 2019, Blogfinger discussed the latest status of the proposed Aurora Hotel makeover.

3/19 Aurora BF post

We discussed some of the questionable issues as the developer was winning the argument to turn the historic hotel into 4 condominiums under one roof.  Many were concerned about historic preservation.  We pointed out that there were congestion , parking and land use issues.

As for parking, technically RSIS standards would require 8 off-street parking spaces, but there wasn’t enough room.    However,  the Board allowed a reduction to four and suggested that the developer make an application* to the Department of Community Affairs in Trenton for a “de minimis exception for any/all RSIS parking requirements.”

In July 2018, the owner, “Old Forge at Ocean Grove” received a use variance from the Neptune Zoning Board of Adjustment.   The Board says that two hearings showed “overwhelming public support” for the proposal. (BF note:  we hear otherwise.)

The  Neptune Planner testified that this was a fine decision, “satisfying the requirements of the Master Plan and that the ‘character” of the building will be retained.'”   The planner said that the proposal would  “promote historic use and reduce intensity.”

In the Resolution, item #24, the Board concluded, “There are no substantial negative impacts for the use (no substantial negative criteria present) as said renovation is set to enhance the neighborhood (architecturally, historically, and structurally for health, safety and welfare of surrounding residents) and the majority of the surrounding neighbors are fully supportive of the proposed use as set forth in testimony.”

So, the use variance was granted.

Then in August 2018, a civil action was brought against “Old Forge” and the Zoning Board by Kevin Chambers of Ocean Grove.  His suit was based on alleged land use violations which would  cause “substantial detriment to the public good.”

But Kevin Chambers’ suit was denied in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Monmouth County.  There was no appeal.

In September, 2018, the same Board approved the site plan for the project.

We have no documentation, but evidently the HPC heard the plan and asked for some changes, so the final HPC approval is pending.  Meanwhile work is ongoing.  We don’t know what’s happening with the interior work to create 4 condominiums under one roof, separated by fire walls.  The HPC will undoubtedly eventually give final approval.

And the outside is supposed to preserve the historic look of this very important historic structure.

In April  2019, it was revealed that the developer’s lawyer had applied by letter to the Dept. of Community Affairs (DCA)  for a de minimis exception to limit on-site parking.  The State advised the lawyer that neither the DCA nor the Site Improvement Advisory Board (SIAB) approve de minimis exceptions. They said that it is the responsibility of the municipality.

So the State punted, and presumably the Neptune Board approved zero to four off street parking spots—we don’t know.

We will prepare a post trying to explain what happened with the DCA.   Is this how the Town got away with approving over 300 condos over the years, none with parking?

Needless to say, those of us who follow this sort of thing were expecting RSIS parking standards to be enforced, but they were not, and I double checked with the DCA as to the legitimacy of that letter. 

So, for the sake of those neighbors who love this idea, they better wish for some rich people with no cars, no friends, and no relatives.

 

JOHN DENVER     “Looking for Space”

“And I’m looking for space
And to find out who I am
And I’m looking to know and understand
It’s a sweet, sweet dream
Sometimes I’m almost there
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
And sometimes I’m deep in despair.”

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We recently reported that the Neptune Board of Adjustment granted a use variance to the new owner of the Aurora which would allow him to turn that historic building into 4 condominium apartments.  That property had been zoned for a single family home, which is what it was when the last owner bought it and sold it.

This variance ruling is suspect because the Board of Adjustment  OK’d the application on the grounds that the Aurora lot could legally accommodate 4 single family houses.  But, it is possible that this reasoning  presented by the developer may be fraudulent.

And this is the basis for the suit which has been filed in Monmouth Superior Court by a Grover, and thus the progress of this new zoning decision has been brought to a grinding halt pending resolution of the suit.

We have not seen the suit , but we are told that the developer and the property owner have been named.

 

THE MARSHALL BROTHERS    “I Didn’t Know”

 

 

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The Aurora. Photograph by Maggie and Joe Thornton of Ocean Grove. Special to Blogfinger. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, M.D.  Editor @ BLOGFINGER.net

The web sites Zillow and Trulia say that a sale of the Aurora  (#6 Atlantic Avenue)  is pending after nearly 3 years for sale.    It is listed at $2.1 million, but supposedly the sale price is considerably  less than that.

Here is the Zillow link:

Aurora sale is pending says Zillow

The Aurora was built in 1890.  Ocean Grove historian Ted Bell says that the former hotel is a “national treasure.”  Below this post is a background article from September 2017 on Blogfinger.

The Aurora has 30 bedrooms, 4 floors and a finished basement.  The listing says that it has ocean views on every level and sits on 4 lots. It fronts on Surf and Atlantic Avenues and  has a driveway and a garage.  The lot size is 4,622 square feet.

Inside the building contains  6,615  square feet.  The most recent property  taxes were  $33,979 in 2014.

When the current owner bought it, he changed its legal standing to a single family home.  He became famous for flying huge American flags on both sides of his home.

The word on the street says that a developer will buy the historic building and turn it into 4 luxury condominiums.  Such a plan would require all sorts of approvals at the local level and at the state.  Hopefully this idea is just an unbelievable rumor, but the history of Neptune Township in Ocean Grove suggests that anything could happen, legal or not.

The first issue that comes to mind is that the HPC would never let this building be altered in a major way, and a multifamily condo conversion would be illegal from a zoning perspective.

The second thing is that there would be essentially no on-site parking, so it’s not likely that the  State Site Improvement Advisory Board would ever give this project a “special standard” to make it exempt from the law.

But, if the rumors are true, the public must be told which officials and realtors reassured the prospective buyer;  and what contingencies are built into the offer. We all have a stake in enforcement of the law and protection of our town’s precious architectural history.

Your comments and speculation are welcome below, but remember that so far we have no facts on the table other than that a buyer has been found and the sale is “pending.”  Maybe that buyer has a big family like the current owner.

 

ANDY WILLIAMS:

 

 

 

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