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Archive for the ‘Neptune Township Committee’ Category

Wesley Lake, looking toward the OG North End: a space where light, breezes and ocean views currently prevail. Paul Goldfinger photo © Click to enlarge.

By Jack Bredin, reporter/researcher at Blogfinger.net and Paul Goldfinger, Editor

This is the second of our three-part post about the Mayor’s Negotiating Team which currently has been in secret sessions with the Camp Meeting Association’s “developer”  which, according to Michael Badger, President of the CMA, is the  “Ocean Grove North End Development LLC (OGNED)”

We don’t know where WAVE went.

In this three-part series of posts, Blogfinger is reviewing how the process has evolved, so now we present a time-line to document what has happened over the last 10 years, beginning in 2008, with approval by resolution of the North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP)  by the Neptune Township Committee.

2011:  In June of 2011, three years after the 2008 NERP (“public plan”) was adopted, WAVE and the OGCMA prepare a “private” general development plan to replace the original NERP.

This private  plan is submitted to the Township. It is titled “North End–a Destination Resort,” and it is not a redevelopment plan. 

The Neptune Township Committee fails to share this proposal with the public. They also do not reveal the fact that getting involved with this “private” plan would require pulling the plug on the entire 2008 NERP and then starting over. The Township makes no changes to the NERP.

2012: The OGCMA announces that they are ready to break ground at the North End in early 2013, but for what plan?  And they have no permits–particularly from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Then comes Sandy on October 29, of 2012.

2013:   The OGCMA announces after Sandy that “the developers are going back to the drawing board.”  What they fail to announce is that new elevations would be required.

2015:  The public becomes aware of a  “new private plan” when Committeeman Randy Bishop abruptly pops up at a Committee meeting and reports, “After exhausting negotiations, where everyone involved had to give something up, we have agreed to a new plan for the North End.”

But this is nonsense. He is referring basically to the private plan that was prepared four years earlier  (see 2011 above,) and the Township Committee already knew all about it.

And, by the way, what are the new  elevations?   No detailed specifications are made available. And no changes can be made to the original 2008 NERP without going back to square one.

The Ocean Grove Home Owners Association takes credit for negotiating the new private plan with the OGCMA, and maybe they did; the Township Comedy certainly did not. The only comment from the baffled Neptune Township Committee about the Bishop plan is, “This is a mistake.”

Actually, the plan is not the mistake—making it public is.

The new plan is not approved by the Township.  It just floats out of the meeting room and fizzles up into the atmosphere.

2018.   As we reported in Part I, the CMA sends out a press release in April 2018  (link below) claiming another new plan and announcing a new “developer” called OGNED. See our initial comments about that at the link (OGNED) below and then look at Part I where we also linked to it:

OGNED

In Part III, the last part of this series about the Mayor’s Negotiating Team, we will bring you up to date on this subject.

 

NOTE:  According to the Township Clerk, “The Redevelopment Committee” consists of Dr. Michael Brantley, Mayor Nicholas Williams, Land Use Administrator, Township Engineer, Business Administrator, Chief Financial Officer, Township Planner and Redevelopment Attorney.

He also informed us that “the Redevelopment Attorney is Maraziti Falcon, LLP  at 150 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Short Hills, NJ.”

 

KEVIN SPACEY   “That Old Black Magic.”       From the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

 

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Nicholas Williams—Neptune Township Mayor. Paul Goldfinger photograph at the Municipal Building.  2017.

 

BOB HOLIDAY FROM THE BROADWAY SHOW “FIORELLO”

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Randy Bishop, new Director of the Senior Center.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor and Jack Bredin, Reporter  @Blogfinger.net

Recently the Township created a furor when they dismissed Brian Batch from the position of Senior Center Director.  The firing was, according to the Comedy  (aka Committee,)  based on an investigative report which has never been released publicly.

There was criticism of the process in which the Township brought about the firing, and many seniors are still disgruntled over this issue, considering the procedure to have been problematic.  There was speculation that the Township Committee was trying to open up the job in favor of someone else.

Mr. Batch hired an attorney because he believes that he should be reappointed to the job.

At last night’s Committee meeting, a resolution was passed to offer the position to Randy Bishop who, for years, was a Neptune Committeeman and former mayor.   In 2016, he left the Committee to take a job at the County level.  We don’t know if he still holds that post, making the new Neptune appointment a second job.

Bishop, a Democrat, is the owner of an inn in Ocean Grove  (the Melrose) which is currently for sale.  The inn may be his third job.  None of this was explained last night.  The Coaster reported that the salary is $77,000 per year

Appointing a former colleague to a lucrative Neptune job will raise eyebrows because of many concerns in the past regarding favoritism by Neptune Township’s one party rulers.   Examples of such favoritism include the recent case of the Aurora variance, approvals for developers to build condominiums without parking, and zoning favoritism as occurred with Mary’s Place.

Nevertheless, the Senior Center does currently need a Director who also has duties as Director of Senior Services.  Bishop was once liaison from the Committee to the Senior Center, so he does have some experience.

At last night’s discussion of the resolution to hire Bishop, some seniors went to the mic. during  the public portion to once again ask that Brian Batch be reinstated.   They thought that making a new appointment now was out of order since the Batch matter is not yet resolved.

But the vote for Bishop was unanimous by all 5 Committeemen.

LITTLE RICHARD:

“Good golly Miss Molly, sure like to ball.
Good golly, Miss Molly, sure like to ball.
When you’re rockin’ and a rollin’ can’t hear your momma call.”

 

 

 

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Committeeman Bishop, a Democrat, is seated to the right in this photo of the Neptune Township Committee. Blogfinger file photo. ©

Committeeman Bishop is seated to the right in this undated photo at a Neptune Township Committee meeting.    Blogfinger file photo. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Committeeman Randy Bishop recently announced publicly  that he would be leaving his posts on  the Township Committee and on the Planning Board in order to take a position appointed by the State of New Jersey.   But he is still present, and the changeover was supposed to have happened by now.  In fact, replacements were being considered for his Committee seat.

But Bishop has not resigned his post on the Committee after all, and he has not, to our knowledge, publicly explained his plans.

Jack Bredin, OG citizen activist and Blogfinger researcher, attends every Committee meeting and he pays attention to such matters.  We received this comment from him today,

“Paul, Randy Bishop would like to remain on the Committee. He has stayed on past the time he was expected to leave, and I would hope he would stay on because he is the most knowledgeable on the Committee regarding land use procedures.”

MICHAEL BUBLE´  “A Foggy Day.”

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Newly-elected Committeeman Nicholas Williams (L)  poses with re-elected incumbent Committeeman Dr. Michael Brantley. (source: Candidates web site)   Williams lives in Neptune, but he is a member of the Ocean Grove Citizens Patrol, so he knows how to spot trouble. We have high hopes for him.   Perhaps Dr. Brantley will pay more attention to OG issues in 2016.      Internet photo.

 

In a recent Blogfinger poll, 88% of respondents said that they did not trust the Neptune Township Committee to do what is fair and just for Ocean Grove.  310 respondents voted. 85% said No; 9% said Yes; the rest were unsure.

In January there will be a new Neptune Township Committee. Returning are Dr. Michael Brantley (newly re-elected), Kevin McMillan (incumbent and new Mayor)  and Randy Bishop (incumbent.)   Taking the place of Mary Beth Jahn is Nicholas Williams (newly elected.)  We don’t know yet who will take the place of Eric Houghtaling.

Mary Beth Jahn was not nominated to run again  by the Monmouth County Democrats despite the protests of Randy Bishop. Eric Houghtaling will vacate his seat on January 12, as he will move up to the Assembly in Trenton.

Randy Bishop may soon be vacating his seat voluntarily, but there is no official word about that.

In 2016, the Committee will remain all Democratic. Neptune used to be solidly Republican. Now it is the most Democratic town in Monmouth County.   Some say that party politics are not important in local elections, but don’t believe it. If you look at the Facebook page of Brantley and Williams, after winning, they said, “Democratic residents of Neptune. This was a victory for you.”

Hopefully it will be a victory for all of us.

At Blogfinger our New Year wish is that the newly reshuffled Committee, headed by a new Mayor, will take a fresh look at the way Ocean Grove citizens have been treated with regards to our historic designations, fair and equal zoning applications, out-of-control property taxes, parking standards, and protection against being overrun by condo-building developers.

We have been especially worried about how the North End Redevelopment is being handled.  How about zoning all of OG for single family.  And how about cancelling the redevelopment zone at the North End.

Also, many of us believe that the current application for an RISS exemption in Trenton will jeopardize our town’s future. Why not trash that application to the SIAB and start enforcing the State parking law in the Grove.

We want our Committee to represent us in a fair and transparent manner.   Hopefully that poll, when repeated in 2016, will show a better relationship between the Committee and Ocean Grove.

We also want to remind the Committee that the OGHOA does not represent most Grovers, so the Committee needs to do more outreach in the Grove to judge what our citizens prefer.  Don’t wait for the citizens to come to you.   Let’s reach out of the box.

–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

THE SHIRELLES:

 

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It’s been 7 years since a non-Democrat has been elected to the Neptune Township Committee.  The election on Nov. 3 will offer two four-year terms to be filled by the voters.  Dianna Harris and Kevin Sheehan are on the ballot as the “Coalition4Change.” Yesterday a team of pamphleteers scoured our neighborhoods, handing out the card shown above (both sides).

I was on my porch enjoying a sunny Saturday in the Grove when a smiling young man handed me the card, but as I said, “What’s this?”  (suspecting a menu from some joint,)  he was gone.  Wouldn’t it have been better if Harris and Sheehan had been strolling along with these latter-day Thomas Paines?  The 18th century version of information-giver may have been a pain as he rode into town on his horse, sending dust, manure,  and pebbles flying, but at least you could flag him down and ask a question.

The scenario is that incumbent and Mayor Mary Beth Jahn was shut out of the re-election process by the local Democrat party.  She is quoted as suggesting that women not vote for any of the Neptune Democrats because of how she was treated. The Democrats who are running for those two Committee seats are incumbent Michael Brantley and  Nick Williams.

Harris and Sheehan say, “Vote Independent,” so their party affiliation must be Independent unless they are playing some sort of identity games.  We know that Sheehan has been a Republican. Harris is a member of the Neptune Zoning Board of Adjustment.

I have contacted these Independent candidates to see if they want to discuss Ocean Grove issues with me. I want to know where they stand on the North End Redevelopment Plan fiasco.  And I want to know if Dianna Harris will tell me how she feels about the zoning manipulations that have gone on at Mary’s Place and with the North End Plan (dating back to 2008).

If I hear anything from them, I will let you know.

As for Brantley and Williams, will they shed any light  and transparency on the OG issues that Brantley has so far, said nothing publicly about?   Maybe Nick Williams will contact us with his views regarding these contentious Ocean Grove matters, or is he merely an appendage to Brantley?

Paul

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

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Mayor Mary Beth Jahn  of Neptune Township, New Jersey.

Mayor Mary Beth Jahn of Neptune Township, New Jersey.

We recently reported on an ugly incident at the April 27, 2015 Township Committee meeting where an Ocean Grove resident was forced to sit down during the public session.  We posted the exact verbal exchange between Jack Bredin and the Mayor, but when the minutes of that meeting were published on the Township website, this is what it said:    “Jack Bredin came up to the microphone to talk about the North End but was asked to sit down by the Mayor. He was escorted to his seat by a Patrolman.”

I think this version of the event makes Jack look bad without revealing the Mayor’s untoward behavior.  Those minutes should include everything that is said at those meetings, not a distorted whitewashed version.  This revisionist text makes one wonder what else is distorted when those minutes are typed and does nothing to reassure the public about transparency by the Committee.

The conversation can be heard on the recording that was made at the meeting, and we posted the transcription on Blogfinger  (see link below)

Exact excerpt from the April 27 Committee meeting

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Wesley Lake, lookng toward the OG North End.  A space where light, breezes and ocean views prevail.  Paul Goldfinger ©

Wesley Lake, lookng toward the OG North End. A space where light, breezes and ocean views currently  prevail. Paul Goldfinger photo  ©  Click to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

At last week’s Neptune Township Committee meeting, April 27, Committeeman Randy Bishop reported that WAVE requested the Committee to amend the North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP. ) However, the Committee took no formal action to amend the plan.   As such, the 2008 plan (permitting 165 units) is still in effect.

The Coaster reports on the Grove, but they are not from the Grove. Their reporter goes to the Committee meetings, shuffles through the packet of press releases given to him by the Township, and then rolls it out in their next edition, as they did last week,  sticking to the Committee’s narrative.

The Coaster doesn’t offer any editorial opinions on these matters because they get lots of money from the Township for ads that you can see at the back of every issue; not that there’s anything wrong with that, but The Coaster is  busy covering a bunch of towns in this area, so it may not get all the facts straight in Ocean Grove.   We, on the other hand, are OG specialists.

It’s a good thing Blogfinger is hovering nearby to keep the record accurate.    In The Coaster front page story on April 30, 2015, about the New NERP, we found some things that need clarification. All quotes are from that Coaster article:

——–“Redevelopment of the North End section in historic Ocean Grove will proceed under a revised developer’s agreement.” Wrong! How can an agreement be revised when it has never existed in the first place? That agreement should have happened back in 2008 when the redevelopers were identified, but it never did.

——–“…but an exact timeline for the project has not yet been announced.”   No kidding! Such a timeline would be a necessary part of a redevelopers agreement which doesn’t exist, so why would anyone expect a timeline to be announced now?

——–“Committeeman Randy Bishop, who was mayor during the initial hearing to adopt the 2008 plan, said at Monday’s workshop that recent meetings were held with the main principals of the redevelopment project.”

Really?  Meetings?   We only know of one such meeting that was announced as occurring in April, and that meeting was attended not by our Mayor (definitely a “principle”) or by the Camp Meeting Association (definitely a “principle.”)   Instead that meeting was attended by the Township Engineer, WAVE, Bishop, and the Township lawyer. That meeting was supposed to be about negotiating a redevelopers agreement, but instead it was for WAVE to offer a new plan.    If there were “meetings,” then why don’t the citizens know about all of them?

——–  “It was very hard and there were very frank discussions. Everyone at the table gave up things to make the plan better.” per Bishop. But who exactly gave things up? Only Bishop and Wave were there. Where was the CMA to say what it would give up?

——-Coaster, “The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association…..will still own the land, like it does in all of Ocean Grove.” But, excuse us, the CMA does not own the beach or Wesley Lake, and those places are involved in the New NERP.

——-“Bishop said all of WAVE’s principles and financials will have to be given before it is declared the sole redeveloper and that a timeline for the project will probably be announced once this happens”

Sorry, but the timeline must be included in the Redeveloper’s Agreement before it is signed.   And  let’s be frank here: those WAVE “principles” have been concealed from the public for the last 8 years. Why weren’t they identified before? They will have to come out of the shadows now if they own over 10% interest in the project.

——-And Coaster what about the site plan which must be designed after the surveys are complete, and no surveys have evidently been done so far. Those site plans are needed to get all necessary approvals such as DEP, Army Corps of Engineers, etc.

——-And Coaster  how about the Gateway Design feature* which has now been eliminated? Why did that happen and why did you forget to tell us about the construction plans which must be obtained before this New NERP goes forward?

It seems that you only want to mention what they tell you to mention. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

* Gateway design feature: A statue or other structure on the boardwalk at the place where Asbury Park meets Ocean Grove.

BIG BIRD:   What the heck avenue do those NEW NERP words mean?

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

At the end of each Neptune Township Committee meeting, a citizen is allowed to come up to the microphone and speak for 5 minutes. The citizen may ask questions or make a statement. No Township official has to respond, although they are free to do so.

We have received a report from Mr. Jack Bredin on Heck Avenue that he  went to the podium last night to express some concerns about the North End Plan. He was in the middle of his time when he asked why the Mayor was not present at the April 15 meeting which was, according to the Township Clerk, supposed to be about negotiations for a Redeveloper Agreement. Mary Beth Jahn is one of the two Committee people who were chosen to participate in those negotiations.

However, Mayor Jahn reacted angrily to Mr. Bredin’s question by slamming her gavel down several times—a signal to have a policeman come in and remove the citizen.

The officer assigned to attend Committee Meetings approached Mr.Bredin, at the podium, to indicate that he should return to his seat.

As this was occurring, Mayor Jahn allegedly said into the microphone that she could have him thrown out because “I am a bitch!”

None of the representatives of the Homeowners Association and none of the other elected officials rose in Mr. Bredin’s defense.

We have requested an audio recording of the meeting, and we will post a precise transcription of the exchange when the Clerk’s office makes it available to us  in one week.

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

It’s very interesting to read the minutes of the Neptune Township Committee.  Unfortunately, the minutes are not typed and made available in a timely way.  For example, on April 25, 2015, two days before the next meeting, the latest minutes posted on the Township web site are from March 9, 2015.  You can get your hands on the actual recording of the meeting by going to the Clerk’s Office where, for a nominal charge, they will give you an audio recording on a disc.

Anyone can read the typed minutes by going to Neptunetownship.org.  then click on Agendas and Minutes.  This is an important service.

One part that is always of interest is the Public Comments section at the end where anyone can go to the mic and say what they wish.  They are allowed 5 minutes, and it doesn’t elicit any discussion, but you can find out some interesting information anyhow.

For example, at the March 9 meeting, Ken Buckley of Ocean Grove said a number of things, but these two stood out:

1.  “He also discussed the parking problem in Asbury Park and stated their problems could become our problems. He felt the parking problems in Ocean Grove needed to be looked at and solved.”

2.  “He stated as far as the North End he had an idea to add a street down the middle of the North End and construct single family homes on either side of the street.”

Jack Bredin of Ocean Grove must have raised some eyebrows when he “stated that the Ocean Grove beach is not owned by the Camp Meeting Association. They have riparian rights.”

Jack also asserted that there are problems with the Township’s land use regarding the north end pavilion and #4 Boardwalk.  He said that some of it might be illegal and he asked the Township to get an opinion from the State.  Details of his comment can be found in the minutes.

Since very few OG citizens attend those Committee meetings, the minutes and recordings provide a way to know what transpired. You can also read Blogfinger to see our succinct selections.

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