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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove controversies’ Category

Ocean Grove: Can we keep it? Paul Goldfinger photograph along the edges of Wesley Lake/Lake Avenue. © Undated  Click to enlarge.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net.  This is a repost from 2017 updated in 2021.

Probably the biggest complaint about the Historic Preservation Commission relates to its inconsistencies.  For example, a Grover couple owns a large Victorian home that they have tried to maintain with great attention to its historic attributes.   It is actually a Victorian showplace.  Up in back of their house there is a staircase ascending to an access at the second floor.  They wanted to put a fairly small deck up there.  It would be barely visible from the street and would improve the couple’s life-style.  But the HPC refused the request on the grounds that such a structure was not historic.

Yet around the Grove there are all sorts of porches and decks that have been added. Just take a walk and you can see them.  If you were a prospective home buyer here, you might look around and think that such decks are historic.

We had one on the second floor, in the rear, of our Centennial Home on Heck Avenue.   If I tried to build that from scratch, it might (or might not) be approved. The HPC is unpredictable.  Another person we know  was given permission to put up a deck just like the rejected couple’s.

Double standards by the HPC  (as with their parental  group, the Township Committee) are toxic to good will and lifestyles in this town.

But if some of you are shocked, shocked that we might have double standards at the HPC, consider this:

And, speaking of astonishing double standards, consider the photo below:

HPC approved this “historic design” on Ocean Avenue in a fairly conspicuous location. Blogfinger photograph. ©

The funny thing about this building is that locals and visitors find it to be amusing.  So, thanks to the HPC, we have a giant conversation piece that is famous not for its Victorian architecture, but as a sort of joke; and the HPC has become the straight man for this humorous offering which does nothing for our town’s reputation and designation as an example of  historic preservation.  And rumor has it that the HPC allowed a historic roof top pool, something Rev. Stokes himself would have been shocked over.

One sport in town is to provide it with ironic nicknames.  For example, one person in the Grove calls it “An Ode to Cement.”   We call it the “Greek Temple.”  Somebody else refers to it as “The Bank.”  What do you call it?

2021 update:  As many of you know, the North End Redevelopment Plan has been tied up in meetings with the HPC. The Township has failed to keep the citizens of Ocean Grove informed as to what’s going on, and the HPC is on mute.

As you know, the HPC only concerns itself with exterior design issues.

We have already seen preliminary drawings of the project, so for many of us, that project should not have been permitted in the first place, and I have no information as to what the HPC is fussing over, but we will probably be left with the same concerns: blocked views,  blocked breezes, crowding, neighborhood congestion, environmental issues, and a significant change in the town’s character, appearance and mood.

It will be Asbury Park South. And the timing, now that the town is changing in a variety of ways, is unfortunate.  This project will slither in silently under the door, while the rest of the town is concerning itself with COVID, many new citizens, many rentals including Airbnb and its problems, a striking sellers real estate market with great demands by buyers, a shortage of affordable rental housing, and rising prices for rentals and buys that have shut many out of the market.  The town needs stores that provide services to those who live in town, and such down-home businesses will not be found at the new North End.

 

DOOLEY WILSON  from Casablanca   “As time goes by.”

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New Jersey Marathon in Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photo © 2015.

 

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger,net.  (Re-post from 2017 and then 2019)

On August 23, 2017, Newsmax published its top 50 religious landmarks in America.  They began their coverage with this:

“Christian pastors and Jewish rabbis and leaders have initiated nearly every significant sociopolitical event in America. Their churches and synagogues were catalysts and hubs that made possible the American War of Independence, the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, and civil rights. They founded schools and hospitals, created architectural wonders, and emphasized the preservation of nature.

“Religious landmarks in most of the original 13 states could easily fill their own top 50 lists, especially the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. However, these sites exemplify the diversity of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and commitment to religious freedom — the hallmark of American exceptionalism.”

 

The statement above is extraordinary and true.

 

Below is what they said about Ocean Grove. (…ranked #1 among the 50 religious landmarks in America.)

 

1. “God’s Square Mile;” Ocean Grove, New Jersey; 1869 This popular seaside retreat, concert, and vacation destination for millions is a lasting testament to the Victorian-era revivalist movement that followed the Second Great Awakening.

“Methodist ministers founded Ocean Grove believing ‘religion and recreation should go hand in hand.’   Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this quaint town is crammed with picturesque Victorian homes, antiques, a historic Auditorium, chapel, and tent community, and offers numerous tours and activities on land, sea, and air. Methodists still gather here regularly as well as other Christian groups.”

 

Editor’s Note:

This Newsmax designation is huge, at least in the eyes of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.  It  is a great honor for the CMA, but it perpetuates the myth that Ocean Grove is still a religious community and not a small town with multiple factions including the CMA.

You will notice that OG is the only town on the list. They did not name a true “landmark” such as  The Great Auditorium. The rest on the list are mostly buildings from all over America, such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral.   So does the religious aspect of OG meet the definition of “landmark?”

And, it is wrong to continue characterizing OG as if nothing has changed, and it is wrong to refer to the religious life here as “Ocean Grove” which is a place where there is more going on than the CMA’s activities.

The CMA is a powerful presence here, but the most salient historic emblems of the town are the Victorian homes which are maintained and paid for by a largely secular and diverse community of residents. Without that Victorian architectural renaissance, OG would not be on this list or the National and State Historic Registers.

This award will have practical consequences, and perhaps our readers would like to speculate as to what these consequences will be.

Here is a link to the Newsmax presentation:

www.newsmax.com/BestLists/top-religious-landmarks-america/2017/08/23/id/809233/

 

BEN WEBSTER (tenor sax.)  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from the Wizard of Oz.

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Are the Ocean Grove beach and boardwalk private property? Paul Goldfinger photograph 2008 ©  Click on photo to enlarge the conundrum.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @blogfinger.net    Re-posted in 2017.

In a recent communication by the Camp Meeting Association, we were told that they own all the land.

A woman was walking her dog on our grassy strip. The dog proceeded to defile the strip. Eileen asked the woman to please not allow that on our property.  The woman turned and said, “It’s not your land!”

When the CMA wanted FEMA to pay for the Sandy-damaged boardwalk, the CMA argued that it was practically-speaking  public land because the public uses it all the time as if it were public land; as if it were just like Bradley Beach.

The CMA eventually won that argument, but it was a hard sell. Blogfinger supported that theory. We posted more FEMA related OG articles then any other media source.

And that pseudo-public land theory is true since most of the CMA property including parks and pavilions and pathways and grassy areas which they own are totally open to the public without restriction, except, for example, bike riding on the boards at certain times, but those rules are for everyone.

You can even walk around the little trails that intertwine the Tent Village. That feels private, but it is not.  I often go there and take pictures.

If the doors to the Great Auditorium are open, you can wander in, sit down, and listen to Gordon Turk do his magic on the Hope-Jones organ. Open to the public.

And a homeowner can enjoy the privilege of leasing the land which sits under his house, as long as the homeowner pays the land tax and the ground rent.

So there is a commitment to allow public access to CMA land in most places around town, and that is wonderful.  And sometimes that gives the CMA a tax benefit, such as the Green Acres funding  tax break which the Boardwalk Pavilion enjoyed until the 2007 brouhaha when the CMA lost that privilege.

But here’s the problem.  We have public municipal ordinances that involve the CMA land  (such as mandatory snow shoveling of your walk), and whenever the Township wants to initiate such a rule, it must run it by the CMA.

This becomes a fine-kettle-of-fish when public policy must affect all of us in town, but one segment of the town, the CMA, has more influence over policy than others.  Do any of you know a comparable situation elsewhere where there is this peculiar private/public arrangement?

Which brings me to the “Dog Park Principle.”   A petition was presented to the OGCMA to use a small public access grassy area by the tennis courts as a dog park. It seemed perfect, but then it wasn’t when the CMA exerted its private property prerogative.  It said that it was their land, and a dog park would violate their “mission.”

So, there it is…..the “mission,” which is influenced by religion, and religion is supposed to be separate from governance. Yet they rejected the dog park even though the Township was sympathetic to the dog owners on this one.

So private is public until such time that private is private.  This is the “Dog Park Principle.”

This is confusing.  And there is money at stake such as ownership of land that someone else is required to pay taxes on, and there is the collection of ground rent on that private land that someone else is paying taxes on.

Shouldn’t the courts challenge the “Dog Park Principle” again, as a public service to help the citizens of this town  (a town that is a section of a municipality—another screwy arrangement) understand what’s public and what’s private?   I say “again” because somewhere in OG’s history are court cases that failed to settle all this.

But I am a doctor, so what do I know?  I know that Ted Kennedy once complained that drug companies were giving free pens to doctors—OMG Congress was mucking around in my free pens.

Why don’t State officials muck around  in our town where there may be Constitutional issues at stake regarding the public/private distinctions being made here over, for example,  a dog park.

 

CAT POWER:     “The Greatest.”

 

“Secure the grounds
For the later parade.”

“I’ve been sleeping
For the later parade”

“Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
The stars at night turned deep to dust.”

 

 

 

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July 6, 2019,  parade in OG for Independence Day and the 150th birthday of Ocean Grove. But read the banner, to see what the CMA is celebrating.    Click image to read it.     Paul Goldfinger photo.

 

img jpg117 (1)

This fine work of fictionalized history is by an Ocean Grove author.  It is about Victorian OG in 1905. It describes a life of over 100 years ago in the Grove  that had nothing to do with the Camp Meeting. The book is available on Amazon. Posted with permission.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger   RE-POST FROM DECEMBER 2020.

At the concert on July 4, 2019,  in the Great Auditorium, Gordon Turk, the host for the concert, said to the audience that we are celebrating “the birthday of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.”  If you read the recent writings of the CMA, it is quite evident that their main goals for this 150th anniversary are based on their religious “mission.”  Just read the 2019 “Ocean Grove Summer  Program Guide” and you will see what they are doing in addition to what they are saying.

In other publicity ads, the wording  for the 150th seems to say that we are celebrating the birthday of the town of Ocean Grove.  And yes, there are many secular events scheduled as well, but it all happens without an effort to clearly define what this town is really about and, in particular, to recognize that there is another Ocean Grove besides the religious based community.

After the founding of Ocean Grove in 1869 by the Camp Meeting Association, the Town’s public taxpaying community and the private religious organization called the OGCMA were essentially one and the same.  But as time went by, considerable diversity evolved, and many residents were not affiliated with the CMA;  but they all had to follow the CMA rules (“blue laws”)  based on religious principles, and those rules were enforced by their own police force.

However, in 1980, Neptune Township took over governance, and the CMA was no longer in charge, although it subsequently brought to bear considerable influence— moral, practical,  and political.

The historical truth, looking back, is that there were groups of residents who got together to oppose the CMA governance as early as 1898 when a group of “lessees” in town sued to get the CMA to pay property taxes to the Township.  The lessees lost the suit at the NJ Supreme Court.

OG historian Gibbons said in 1939:   “Many times residents and land lessees of the town have voiced their objection to the local rules, to the tax situation, or to the form of government, especially from 1900-1925, and there have been many court fights.”

There were those who wanted secular public governance not private religious based rule. In 1920 there was a law passed  in Trenton called the “Ocean Grove Borough Bill.”  There actually was a public democratic town of Ocean Grove established, but for only one year; the law was reversed because the new Borough failed to rid itself of the blue laws.

This anniversary is about 150 years of history in this town, and there are many elements that the CMA had nothing to do with such as  Presidential  visits by Teddy Roosevelt, McKinley, Garfield, Wilson, and US Grant among others; commercial district with historic businesses such as Days; historic organizations such as the Historical Society of OG; Ocean Grove United; the Homeowners Assoc; suffrage  and feminist movements; architectural design and historic preservation; celebrities such as Caruso who visited Grovers here; businesses that started here such as Mrs. Wagner’s pies; giant events such as craft shows and flea markets; Town-wide Yard Sale; OG Film Festival; tax and zoning issues; land use issues; famous hotels; shipwrecks; Wesley Lake pollution; wildlife; restoration of homes around town including the famous Ocean Pathway; demographic evolution; residents’ issues with Neptune Township; parking challenges; relationship with Asbury Park;  condoization, and more.

The point is that this 150th  anniversary is both that of the CMA and the Town of Ocean Grove as separate but related entities.  One is a private religious based group–the CMA, while the other is a public, largely secular community with taxpaying residents often on a different wave length.   The situation, of course, is complicated by the  CMA’s ownership of the land.  This unique connection has yet to be ironed out.

Currently the CMA, which is promoting this 150th anniversary celebration,  is behaving as if it is all one and the same, and their writings confuse the distinctions.  If you read their summer program guide, there is no doubt that they are mostly celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Camp Meeting Association.

The idea of another historic “Ocean Grove” is getting lost in the shuffle;  the “other Ocean Grove” is a historic 150 year old residential small town with much to celebrate besides religion.  And don’t expect the media to “get it” because most of the citizens don’t “get it” either.

So, regardless of these distinctions, we are in the midst of a festive sesquicentennial, and we can thank the Camp Meeting Association for organizing it and paying for it.  And they have every right to do this celebration in whatever way they choose, but at least let’s speak clearly about what is happening.

Let’s enjoy the events, but don’t lose sight of the strange admixture of three factions  that goes on here—perhaps the only such arrangement anywhere in the US.

Don’t depend on Neptune Township to help at all to understand these distinctions, even though they have a sign on Corlies Avenue, near the Grove, that says that we are their “Historic District.”

But they really don’t care much about the Grove. Look at what they do, not what they say.     The Neptuners enjoy the apathy and the distinctions, because they get to milk the cash cow, exploiting whatever differences we have in our town.

JOHN LITHGOW  sings about knowing who we are and appreciating our differences:

 

How to refer to our town

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xxxx
Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor  Blogfinger.net 

 2020 re-post  (The original question posited in the headline is still valid.)

There are multiple factions in the small town of Ocean Grove (pop  3,700,) and these organized groups are largely isolated from each other. Woven into the fabric are homeowners and renters who live here but do not belong to any organizations, thus becoming, by default, a faction of their own.

According to social scientist Steve Valk, whose family has lived here for several generations, it would be important for these factions to find ways to appreciate and cooperate with each other. For example he cites the religious groups and the secular groups which ought to find common ground for the benefit of the town. One example of such cooperation is the recent interaction, since Sandy, between Ocean Grove United (OGU) and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association  (CMA); however we have recently seen how tenuous that relationship is when we recall the  recent clash about Sunday sermons.

The CMA ran the town from 1869 to 1980 as a tax paying part of Neptune Twp.—-111 years.

Neptune Township  treated OG as a sort of gated community.  The CMA made the rules and imposed blue laws until the N.J. Supreme Court put a stop to that in 1980 when Neptune  took over active governance in the Grove  (although the Neptuners were technically the governing body almost since the town’s founding.)  Since 1980, the CMA has continued its mission and  it has largely kept out of the way of Neptune Township.

But we now see the CMA and the Township working together on the North End Redevelopment Project, but suspicious elements have been revealed, and that project does not seem to be designed primarily with the town’s best interest at heart.  By 2021, the CMA, OGNED, and the Neptunites seem to be on the verge of going ahead with the NERP.

As for the Neptune Township governance, you have seen the results of our recent poll which shows that 80% of respondents mistrust  the Neptune Township Committee. Interestingly, over the years, there were times when the citizens rose up against Neptune control resulting in law suits and even a failed referendum to allow the Grove to become a separate town which it did for one year in 1925.

The other organizations here also tend to have their own agendas and to be run like private clubs. Such groups include the Homeowners Association, the Historical Society, Ocean Grove United, and the Chamber of Commerce.

They don’t work together very much for the good of the town.  They are busy with their own agendas.  For example, the Chamber of Commerce runs big events to try and drum up business for the merchants.  But what do they do for the benefit of those who live here?  We asked them to take over sponsorship of the Town-wide Yard Sale, but they refused.

 When we introduced a new idea for the town—the Blogfinger Film Festival—a benefit for the boardwalk—-only a few of the members would be sponsors for the program, and hardly any attended the event.

When we think of factions in town, we can see the visible ones, but how about the invisible ones such as families that have lived here for generations and are part of networks that act in concert with each other, with the CMA,  and with the Township governance, especially where land use, zoning,  and parking are concerned.  Let’s call that “the OG network of special interests.”

For them the town of Ocean Grove seems like a gift that keeps on giving. This network never speaks publicly, shows its face, or identifies itself, but what it does and has done will impact all of us and will determine what the town will be in the future.  Take a look at all the Grovers who are involved with OGNED and will gain financially from that North  End project; to the detriment of those of us who live here and pay taxes.

We have seen the results of favoritism for those special interests in the Greek Temple and Mary’s Place.  The North End Redevelopment Project is a good example to keep an eye on.  Who will be the winners, and who will be the losers?

Because of indifference by the public, organizations, and special interests, Ocean Grove may become an at-risk town which could end up a failed historic  place without focus and character, such as is seen in other shore towns—unless the public pays attention and the organizations here begin to work together for the overall benefit of the town and not just on their narrow pet projects, like the Homeowners Association which is currently circulating a simple-minded parking survey while ignoring the improprieties and illegalities around town regarding land use issues.  The HOA has teamed up with the Neptune Committee ever since 2008 when it supported 165 residential units, mostly condos, at the North End.

In 2002, a professor* at Monmouth University published an academic paper about OG history, emphasizing the powerful way that the activist HOA of 25-30 years ago  fought for the town and saved its life.  Below  is a quote**  from that research about that era.

Contrast the conclusion below with the current HOA which now is failing Ocean Grove through impotence, inaction, and lack of focus towards the issues which currently threaten our town the most.

The Home Groaners need to step up and save the town once again,  but this version appears to so far be hopeless in that regard.

** 2002:   “The HOA has maintained or reconstructed the carefully planned infrastructure of the founders, and even as Ocean Grove is being reborn as a contemporary tourist site, the HOA has worked with the CMA to preserve its sacred foundations. Just like the CMA, the HOA has been outstanding in its ability to secure what it wants and what it believes the community needs. Property values have risen, the community is again a safe place, tourism has been revived, an enormous amount of social capital has been generated, and the Victorian charm of the town has been restored.”

By Karen Schmelzkopf*  in the Journal of Historical Geography, 2002

 

BLOSSOM DEARIE:

 

 

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Source: Seasons General Store in OG.

Graphics source: Seasons General Store in OG.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.  Jack Bredin, Blogfinger researcher.

Look south on BF to find our October 24, 2020  post about two condominium associations which sued the CMA.  (2/17/17)  And don’t miss the comments.

Today’s  BF re-post below about ground rents is also from 2017.  The subject of ground-rents goes back to the 19th century and is still a source of interest and consternation.

You will also find two letters to the editor–same 2017 vintage on this subject.

The law suit described above is about two OG condominium associations who are suing the Camp Meeting Association regarding ground rents.  But we haven’t seen the complaint and we don’t know what the complaint really is and what issues will be considered and explored during  the discovery phase if it goes to trial. 

Because of all the uncertainty, we have a wide open pathway for discussion, and won’t it be interesting to guess how many different spinoffs will be generated.

Fundamental assumptions will be questioned.   Let’s begin with a collection of questions and ideas.  Then send in your suggestions about where this suit will lead.  Click on comments below or send an email to Blogfinger@verizon.net.  If you ask to be anonymous, you will  be.  If you don’t share your email with us, we can’t talk to you individually. 

1. Recently the OGHOA hired a lawyer to look into the ground rent matter. We don’t exactly know what his instructions were, but he cost the HOA $7,000. HOA members: where is your loyalty?    You should demand that the identity of that lawyer be revealed and his report made public.   (See Kevin Chambers’ inquiry about this.)

https://blogfinger.net/2017/01/30/just-wondering-what-happened-to-the-legal-opinion-on-ground-rents/

2.   Will the court find that condo owners should be treated the same as other resident owners and be charged $10.50 per year ground rent?  Will the court find that condo owners can be treated on a case to case basis, whereas home owners in town are mostly treated as if they were all the same?  Will using home assessments to determine fees be OK for condo owners,  but not for regular  homeowners?

3.   Who really owns the land in Ocean Grove?  If the CMA owns the land, then how come we homeowners have to pay property taxes to Neptune Township?  Why doesn’t the CMA pay the taxes?  (This was questioned in court in the past, and the citizens lost that battle.)  If the CMA doesn’t own the land, then will the current homeowners own the land?   Will the CMA produce proof that they own the land?

4. If the CMA loses and has to return a ton of money, will it go bankrupt?

5. If the CMA loses, then they may not be able to make much money from condo’s in the future.  If that happens, will they still support the construction of up to 165 condos at the North End?  Will the North End Redevelopment Plan collapse before it begins?

6.  If the CMA cannot make much money from the approval of more condos in the Grove, will they become supporters of single family zoning in town and opponents to more condos?  

7.   Will the CMA be able to continue raising the leasehold fees whenever it wants to, without providing justification?  

8. The CMA is a secretive private organization. Will it have to open its books to the court?  Will its officers and trustees have to undergo depositions?

9.  Will the condo associations involved in the suit be able to continue paying high legal fees if this suit drags on?  Can the CMA afford a long legal process?

10.  Will other condominium associations join the suit?

Tell us your ideas.  Please read the rules above about commenting on Blogfinger.

MERLE HAGGARD WITH THE PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND:

 Editor’s note:   On Feb 22, 2017, Blogfinger posted two Letters to the Editor containing  discussions of the history of ground rents in Ocean Grove.   Here are links:

Ground rent letter to the editor #1 2017

Ground rent letter to the editor #2 2017

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Cleanup after Sandy. 2012. Paul Goldfinger portrait. © Blogfinger.net

Cleanup after Sandy. Ocean Grove middle beach.   2012. Paul Goldfinger portrait. © Blogfinger.net  Click to enlarge

PINK MARTINI

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Used to be our town, too. Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photo © Used to be our town, too. Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  This subject is still relevant even though it first stuck its inquisitive head out of the primordial fog of the Mother Ship and Pitman Avenue.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger   (NOTE:  This was originally posted on Dec  31, 2015, but needless to say, many of you missed it.  It was reposted in 2016.)

However, in view of the current signs of life emerging out of the NERP’s resting place, here is another chance to read selected quotes by your neighbors and a few others regarding governance in this town and about the North End plan.

And for those of you who read that fake news story in the Coaster, June 11, 2020, you can watch for Blogfinger‘s response  to that mindless “news report” about the North End applications before the HPC and the DEP.

Why is it that our local institutions never seem to place the interests of OG’s citizens first?  Representative government here has failed.  The Neptune Committee makes you wait 3 hours before you get 5 minutes to speak and they show essentially no interest in what the citizens of Ocean Grove think.

They have even threatened Grovers who spoke “out of turn” at their meetings.

Now (2020)  they will take advantage of the coronavirus to further distance their governance nonsense from “we the people.”

Here is a collection of comments, mostly from 2015, but some from 2011 and 2012, repeated now to show the extent of discourse, mostly on the critical side, and to offer a sense of clamor for change leading up to 2016.  Note that this is just a mere sprinkling of quotes, chosen arbitrarily from the nearly 17,000 comments made on Blogfinger  (except for A.O. Scott) since 2009 to 2015.

A.O. Scott of the New York Times, 2015,  talks about “how power operates in the absence of accountability. When institutions convinced of their own greatness work together, what usually happens is that the truth is buried and the innocent suffer.

“Breaking that pattern of collaboration is not easy. Challenging deeply entrenched, widely respected authority can be very scary.”  (This quote of A.O. Scott comes from his N.Y.Times movie review of “Spotlight” but it rings true for Neptune Township.)

Jack (Bredin) :  The proposed subdivision (on Sea View)  will result in 4 illegal lots. Whoever purchases them could have big problems in the future, and the Neptune Township Planning Board doesn’t give a flying fig*.

Devo:  Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Jack: You would increase your chances of getting a subdivision if you hire a politically connected attorney who can trot out a professional planner who is willing to lie to the Board under oath.  You must first make a campaign contribution.

Kevin (Chambers) : As a service to the people of Ocean Grove it would be nice to have that Committee oath of office  printed on your site to remind each of the Committee people that their duty is to uphold the laws of the State and to enforce those laws, and that includes zoning laws—–for the protection of all the people in Neptune equally.

Oath of office Neptune Comedy

Kevin: The attorneys and the planners have the obligation to the public to make sure that testimony is factual, consistent and truthful. In one of these two cases it is anything but that.

Doubting Thomas:  The people of Ocean Grove are being plundered, just as if the Vikings returned from Iceland and landed on the shores of Ocean Grove.

Jack:

What we do know is :
-The Township Committee has no heart.
-The Planning Board has no brain and,
-the OGHOA have no courage.

They all just “go along” with the “Flat Earth Society” opinions from the Township’s professional planners and engineers who most likely were referred to Neptune by the Great Wizard.

The fact is, we have no idea who is running (ruining) our town.

Blogfinger:   The Home Groaners’ Board has taken the Kool Aid and has jumped on the bandwagon which says that RSIS*** parking standards are no good for Ocean Grove

Rev Janeba:  Although I am a Brooklynite, my heart is in Ocean Grove – the Ocean Grove I KNOW, not the cartoon theme park version that so many misguided persons are trying to bring about. Thank you so much for looking out for MY best interests, too.

Radar:  I can’t remember any recent meeting that a vote was taken on the Homeowners’ position.

Bythe sea:   Who does the OGHOA think they serve? Why do they not test their positions with their own membership? I am a member and I can attest to the fact that OGHOA members were never offered an opportunity to review the RSIS issue, vote on or even discuss it.

From the Neptune Application to SIAB**:      “This application…seeks relief from RSIS standards in an overall effort to balance the needs of residents, visitors and public safety with the unique challenges of maintaining a Federal and State Historic Designation coupled with the unique and historic patterns of development that comprise Ocean Grove as a whole.”

“It is estimated that there are approximately 1.38 potential on-street parking spaces per occupied unit (ie house or condo). This potential inventory adequately addresses the parking need, given that the average number of vehicles per household in the 2010 census is 1.5 vehicles.
Neptune Township has worked in concert with the OGCMA to continue to ameliorate parking issues within Ocean Grove.”

Blogfinger  (re: RISS:)   Let’s face it, this has nothing to do with history or even parking, and everything to do with greed.

Blogfinger:   The $64,000.00 question: Even if the State turns down the application and leaves the RSIS rules in place, who is going to enforce the law?  After all, even today, the RSIS rules are in effect in Ocean Grove and they haven’t prevented condos without parking from being built— single family homes should have been constructed instead.

New Kid in Town  Has any thought been given to forming a citizen’s group to formally object to Neptune Township’s dishonest efforts to destroy our historical town for greed and profit? I for one, would be happy to join such a group and support it in anyway I could. I know many others who would do the same.

Upset taxpayer    I invite anyone on the Township Committee that thinks we already have adequate parking, to sit on my porch on any Friday, Saturday or Sunday all spring, summer and fall, and watch the frustration among all visitors to Ocean Grove.

Michael Grover (2011)     I believe the language in the proposed Master Plan is intended to further develop ratables for the Township in Ocean Grove at the expense of its residents. The Board is attempting to set up a structure that will permit replacement of B and B’s with condominiums and development of larger structures, further adding to our density.

Don’t count on the HPC to protect us, using historic preservation as grounds to prevent conversions. Recent decisions and the North End project demonstrate their weakness against the Planning Board.

As for the Township Committee, don’t look to them for much help either. The town needs money, and this is New Jersey, enough said. We will need to protect ourselves.

Mary Beth Jahn:     (2011)    I am the sole member of the Township Committee to vote against the North End plan, and I still believe that single-family homes and not condos should be built on that site.

OGrover:  2011    The recent high density project with it’s proposed underground parking is not supposed to add to the parking issues but will do nothing to alleviate them either. (Underground parking next to the ocean and a lake? The Titanic was unsinkable, too!)

Frank: (2011)  New Jersey Site Improvement Advisory Board knows the situation of our not owning the property, and their recommendation for parking is that Neptune follow the Municipal Land Use Law’s standards that are used throughout the state. I have a copy of the letter addressed to Neptune from the Sites Board that states that the Township is to follow the standards for parking

Joan C (2012)    I was rather surprised to read that Mr. Williams stated so emphatically that he would never read nor respond on Blogfinger. Is Mr. Williams “too good” for the blog? Is he choosing to remain unaware of the concerns of our residents? I frankly had hoped that all members of both parties read Blogfinger, which is the least divisive, non-political posting of relevant information for those of us living in Ocean Grove and Neptune Township

Devo (2012)  The North end project, in its current form, will not benefit the Grove. It will generate significant additional traffic, create additional parking issues (despite what they say they are planning), will depress home/condo prices for the existing housing stock, and will add out of character buildings. I wasn’t here when all this went down, but I can’t imagine why folks in OG think this is a good idea.

The longer it is delayed, the better.

Michael Grover (2012)  Those of us concerned about noise and congestion, not to mention density and over-development, need to look no farther than the North End project. Want a problem that really happens and lasts forever? Why was this project approved, and where was the HPC to protect the integrity of our beloved historic district? It’s a lot easier to enforce the rules when the issue is the color of a house and other minor cosmetic concerns, or when you have the authority to impose a decision no matter how unjustified on a weak, defenseless homeowner. Take on the town and the developers, that’s another story.

Devo (2012)    Scuttle the redevelopment plan now, or forever be sorry you did not.

Bythesea (2012)  Developing the North End under a State sanctioned redevelopment designation is a terrible idea. I can tell you right now that, based on what has happened most other places in NJ, OG will lose all control and hate the outcome. OG should seek to bring about the collapse of this redevelopment plan. The land and location is valuable/desirable enough that the CMA should be able to manage its own redevelopment.

Despite Mary Beth Jahn’s best intent and all of our wishful thinking, redevelopment areas take on a life of their own and they always gravitate to higher than expected density and insensitivity to quality of life concerns of the town they are occurring in (e.g., traffic impact, parking, etc.).

Gosh: (2012) I have to say for the last time, the approval of the redevelopment of the North End was never legal.

Mary Beth Jahn   (2012)   Those who are sucking sour lemons and trying to run a smear campaign wouldn’t know or care, because they have no respect for the Grove’s historic designation and would have no problem turning the Grove into Condo City.

Wisher:  (2012)  There will be no distinguishing OG or Asbury Park in the future. No grand vistas, or public places for shoppers and beach-goers. People won’t come here any more than they will go to any of the myriad of other shore towns. No distinguishing characteristics. Just everything shoved up against the shoreline while developers walk about with their boatload of cash.

Gosh (2012)   Condos have been motivated by GREED and REVENUE that they bring into Neptune. There is absolutely no interest in keeping O.G. historic with single family homes; just look at the new Master Plan— there are so many gray areas for interpretation.

Bythesea:    (2012)  Where is the OGHOA on the North End Development? What stand have they taken relative to the abomination of a plan that now exists for the “redevelopment” of the North End? It is they who should be the champions in the fight against poor planning that will hurt the town. Do they just play a reactive game, or do they try to lead? Where is their position paper? Seems to me that this is by far the biggest issue on their plates for the next year.

Jack    The first and only comment from our new year (2016):

OhGee, the reason this special town exists, is to the credit of the OGCMA.

The Township Committee has the exclusive authority to adopt our zoning ordinance.
We cannot blame any property owner for developing what they are permitted to develop under the zoning ordinance adopted by the Committee.   With zoning, the buck stops with the Township Committee.

The problem is that the Committee, Planning Board and Board of Adjustment use Municipal Land Use Law in ways that were never intended by the NJ State Legislature.

**SIAB  is the State Site Improvement Advisory Board in Trenton.  They keep Blogfinger up to date on their agendas so that the Neptune Comedy doesn’t sneak into one of their meetings without the people knowing.

*** RSIS means Residential Site Improvement Standards” regarding required off site parking standards for new construction.

Editor’s note:   June, 2020. The OGNED North End Redevelopers applied to the DEP for CAFRA approval to build an underground garage at the North End.   But they were rejected, and we are seeking up-dated information as to the current status of that fraudulent plan.

JAMES TAYLOR

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Can Ocean Grove retain its own unique historical perspective?  This musician is warming up for the OG Summer Band weekly concert on the boardwalk. 2009. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

By Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor @Blogfinger.net   Re-post.  From 2018.

In a recent Blogfinger opinion piece, we asked, “Will Ocean Grove be left in the dustbin of history as a place with stifling crowding, insoluble  parking concerns, a has-been Victorian success story,  condos all over town,  a pseudo-Asbury  at the North End, self-interested “community” organizations, wealthy 2nd homers instead of year-round residents, and a town devoid of community—– known for no art, culture, schools, or values of its own?”

“And will all that would be left to focus on be the Camp Meeting Association with its specific mission and lifestyle—worthy as part of the community, but less impressive all by itself?”

“And will Ocean Grove become a place with no life to it in the winter and few downtown shops that cater to the residents?”

Is it possible that the original 1970’s vision of a historic town, as expressed in the Master Plan, eventually evaporate leaving just another shore town with rising real estate prices, elitist demographics,  outrageous taxes, and fancy seasonal shops in our downtown?

An article in yesterday’s New York Times addresses some of these changes which are turning down-home, family-oriented communities such as Avalon, at the South Jersey Shore, into something else, mostly for the wealthy.

Families with modest incomes, some of which have been there for generations are being forced out, and with them go memories, traditions, and a nostalgic atmosphere that that will be lost as the town’s character changes.  The author says that some towns at the north Jersey Shore, such as Mantoloking, are also changing.

You can read that article, linked below.   But each Shore town is different, and each has its own unique challenges.    In OG we have some unusual variations on the theme, such as the role of the CMA  and the aggressiveness of developers pushing condo conversions, as well as some home buyers who are promoting tourist rentals.

The second-home phenomenon is very real in Ocean Grove and is a strong driving force towards change.  Neptune Township cares little about historic OG.   Their actions make it clear what their goals for the town are, and we have written about those issues including illegal zoning and parking decisions, the pollution of Wesley Lake, and taxes which are too high  (the “cash cow” effect–you can almost hear the sucking sound of our money heading west.)

3 new homes are going in on Lawrence Avenue. (88, 90 and 92). Will they look Victorian? ©  4/23/18. Blogfinger photo.

Here are some “objectives and goals” taken from the Master Plan of the OG Historic District,–a “plan” which is largely ignored by the movers and shakers in the Grove who care little about historic preservation or the vision of those who were thrilled when OG was given recognition by the National and State Registers of Historic Places.

a.  “To integrate historic preservation into the Township’s history,  its historical figures and its historic sites and district.”  And “encouraging new construction that is compatible in scale and design to the physical character of the surrounding neighborhood.”

b. “To seek to insure compatibility between new development and nearby historic sites and districts, in terms of both use and appearance.”  Really?

So how do Mary’s Place and the Greek Temple get built in the heart of our ocean-front Historic District?

c. “To  encourage residents to preserve the historic character, livability and property values of historic structures in neighborhoods….”

This subject is not exactly new.  Take a look at this 2012 Blogfinger post   (and the comments which are very interesting and unique:)

Blogfinger poll on historic heritage in OG

SARAH VAUGHAN  sings a Cole Porter Broadway  song:

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After Sandy the CMA mobilized citizens and other volunteers to work together in the cleanup Oct 2012. Paul Goldfinger photo ©.

 

 

Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor @Blogfinger.net.   Once again the role of the CMA in the life of Ocean Grove has resurfaced.  May, 2020.

This post first appeared January  2019 regarding how the CMA affects the life styles of secular residents in town.

On Sunday June 2, 2019 a large religious event occurred that alarmed some residents who live near the Great Auditorium:

The Liquid Church brought a crowd of religious tourists here for a morning service in the Great Auditorium. Apparently it was noisy, then lunch on the Pathway with 7 food trucks, and then later with baptisms on the beach.  A usually quiet OG Sunday had changed.   The Liquid Church  was scheduled to be returning every Saturday night in July and August 2019.

This change raised these questions:  Is Ocean Grove once again becoming a Christian town?    Does the CMA have the unlimited power to expand in ways that can impact the quality of life of all who live here?   Does owning all the land give it that power?

 

That 2019  article below gets into some of these issues:

The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association used to run this town, but all that changed in 1980 when the N.J. Supreme Court turned over our historic village to the municipality of Neptune Township.

None of the “blue laws” were left in effect, except for bans on selling tobacco, sales of alcohol, and closing of the beach on Sunday mornings.  There has been no coherent explanation for those bans and beach closure  as initiated by a private group in a public town.

The CMA retained control over the beachfront and they actually own the boardwalk but not the sand underneath, and they and others worked together to press FEMA in 2012 to help pay for the boardwalk restoration.

The Camp Meeting still owns most of the land in town as they pursue their religious “mission” which is growing year-round and has an effect on all who actually live in the Grove.

Interestingly, they have no membership list, so we don’t know how many residents in the Grove are committed to the CMA organization.  Most of their supporters seem to be religious tourists.

There is a group in town of private residents who are mostly secular and who probably number over 5,000 if second homers are included.  But, that group doesn’t  have much influence.

So how does the CMA maintain the reigns of power here, in  a democracy, to influence the residents of this community?

Around 2011,  Blogfinger became interested in the role of the CMA as it relates to the “community ” of Ocean Grove—ie the residents of the town.  We interviewed the  President of the CMA.  He said that the group would focus on its “mission” and not on the community of residents. That’s when I first learned that the CMA actually had a policy regarding the rest of the Grove.

After Sandy hit, the CMA stood tall to deal with the beachfront damage, but they also opened their arms to the secular OG community to help pay for it via the Together Fund.

Clearly the CMA is a sort of neighbor for all of us, but it is a peculiar sort.  They have power and influence in Neptune that enables them to strong arm certain issues in the Historic District such as congestion, parking, land use, North End Redevelopment, and life-styles for residents.

If we ask residents of OG the question: “What do you expect from the CMA,” we suspect that opinions will range from “nothing” to “a great deal.”

If you try to answer that question by thinking about the recent history of the CMA as neighbors in town, consider this summary below.  It is a short list of how they impact all who live here.

a.  They have lucrative large events through the year, especially during “prime time” which effects all of us who live here and which bring no money to help the OG  community.

b. They bring in thousands of tourists for their religious based events, but also for the town- wide clogging mega secular events on Ocean Pathway such as the Flea Market. They hope to extend their reach year-round.

c. They don’t care much about the secular residents in town as evidenced by their seeming indifference to issues that effect all of us, such as when they threatened to sue over permit parking before the conversation ever got out of the starting gate.

And you would think that they would be concerned about the Master Plan, the Land Use abuses, historic preservation, and other matters that involve them. But they never speak out about these topics.

d.  They were found to be guilty in 2007 of discrimination, and that stained the reputation of the entire town.

e.  They have been intimately involved with the worrisome plans for the project at the OG North End.

f.  Secular programming has been cut back at the GA.

Of course, there are many positive attributes for the entire town that stem from the CMA’s presence in the Grove such as: the 4th of July parade; Illumination Night;  Christmas events;  a clean and friendly beachfront; a wonderful summer music program; and activities for families, kids and teenagers.

So, what do you think?  Please comment below.

ELVIS:   “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”

 

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