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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove controversies’ Category

A lovely event was held on Saturday, September 22, 2018 on Ocean Avenue at Main and Heck.  This single family house is doing just fine without being divided into condominiums. All that is required are owners who care about the town.  Such owners could have been found for the Aurora.  Blogfinger photo.

 

In August, Blogfinger questioned the decision by the Board of Adjustment to allow the single family zoned Aurora to be turned into a 4 condominium building.

Here is a link to that post:

Aurora zoning change

In that article, we asked, “Why didn’t this Board insist on the single family zoning that was present when the owner bought the property? Do you think any promises were made to that owner, and who might have made those promises?”  Zoning is supposed to protect the town and its citizens.

We know that the previous owner had trouble selling the property, presumably because of the single family zoning, but he bought it that way and lived with it that way, and this historically important building should have been left with its original zoning.

Some might argue that it is unfair to require that this old hotel be continued with single family zoning, because they say, “What can you do with such a big single family home?”

But you can visit any Jersey Shore town, including Ocean Grove, and find very large single family homes.

For example, on Ocean Avenue in OG are such buildings.  Our photo shows a beautiful single family home which was happily occupied by 2 people before it was acquired by the current owners who left the zoning alone.  You can see that it is often rented out for events, and none of its history has been compromised.   It is located on Ocean Avenue, lovingly straddling Main Avenue and Heck Avenue, for all visitors and residents to enjoy.

Will you be able to say the same thing about the new Aurora?

–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

JIMMY BUFFETT:

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Just before the start of the Summer Band concert at 8 pm, August 24, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Just before the start of the Summer Band concert at 8 pm, August 24, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Re-posted from summer 2016.

 

Scene:  The crowd was entering the great Auditorium prior to the Summer Band concert celebrating their 64th anniversary.  Among the visitors to the free concert were some out-of-towners.  We sat down on an aisle.

 

Man overheard speaking to his wife:   “Look Betty, they got an organ!”

 

Another out of towner behind us speaking to his wife:

She:  How many seats in this building?

He:  About 600

She:  Wow

Me:   (turning around) The Auditorium seats 6,500.

He:  Oh…I just left out a zero.

 

Another conversation:

We:  Let’s sit here on the aisle  (Behind us is a couple—they discuss our presence in muffled tones.)  Then they get up and move to different seats.

Another couple sits in those seats behind us:

She:  These are wonderful seats!

 

VINCE GIORDANO and  THE NIGHTHAWKS   from the movie The Aviator     “Stardust”

 

 

 

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At Pilgrim Pathway near Mt. Hermon Way. Blogfinger photo. Friday 8/24/18. ©

 

Pitman Avenue at the edge of Auditorium Square Park. Blogfinger photo. 8/24/18. ©

 

It was the beginning of a beautiful beach weekend.  On Friday afternoon, the floodgates of vehicles had already opened for another gridlocked weekend  in the Grove.  Ironically, both these parking games were being played out within one block of each other, almost on top of the NTPD substation next to Thornley Chapel.

By Saturday, I had to park over 3 blocks from my house, and while walking back, the sloppiness of parking on our streets was evident, with large segments of curb being empty, but not quite large enough to be a parking space.  If only some parkers were more considerate and less arrogant.

Some have suggested marking the parking spaces in town, but that would, I am told, take up even more parking spaces given the sizes required.   Have you noticed how large each marked  handicapped space is?

 

JULIO IGLESIAS     (” The games of love I played with arrogance and pride, including my parking habits.” )

 

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Ground Rents  (Re:  Appeals Court ruling)

To the Editor:

Having now read the court decision, its not as interesting as I thought it might be.

Condos can’t avoid their ground lease payments.

Pathway Condos (30 Ocean Pathway) and Dardanelle Condos (40 Ocean Pathway) filed a lawsuit last year trying to avoid paying the annual ground lease to the OCGMA arguing that a provision of the NJ Condominium law did not allow condos to be on leased property.

Last year a trial court ruled against the condos. This week the NJ Appellate Court agreed and ruled that the condos have to pay the land lease to OCGMA.

Bernie the Attorney

The writer is a real attorney who writes under the name Bernie—- special to Blogfinger.

 

Editor’s Note:  So now we can stop kvetching over this, unless someone wants to take the issue of ground rents to the Supreme Court.

And the Home Groaners can stop spending the members’ money on useless lawyers.  Why don’t they make public that lawyer’s opinion about ground rents. I think it cost $7,000.00

The HOA members and the public have a right to see it, especially those who are directly concerned with this matter—eg the condo owners and the CMA.  Post it on the HOA’s useless web site  Muckandgibberish.com

Paul Goldfinger, MD, for the Blogfinger Editorial Board.

And here’s a link about ground rents by Kevin Chambers

ground rents issues

 

THE BEATLES  with a little known song, but I like it—having nothing at all to do with ground rents.

“Don’t Let Me Down”  from the Blue Album

 

 

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OG Saturday Giant Flea Market June 2016. Gridlock. Blogfinger photo. ©  Where else can you find this?  Click once to make the crowd bigger.

 

OG mega Flea Market. Blogfinger photo 2016 ©

 

By  Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor@Blogfinger.net

May 5   Spring Fling  Chamber of Commerce closes down Main Avenue:   gridlock

May 19  Vintage Car Show  CC  closes down Main Avenue:  gridlock

June 2   Giant Spring Flea Market  CC floods Ocean Pathway with thousands of junksters:   gridlock

June 16 OGCMA  Giant Craft Show —-300 artisans:   Gridlock all over town

June 23   OGCMA Huge Christian festival:  Bridgefest:  Gridlock all over town.

August 4  OGCMA    Saturday of the Camp Meeting Week:   Gridlock all over town.

August 18  OGCMA   Beach boys:  Gridlock evening.

Sept 1 Doo /wop:   Gridlock evening

Sept. 8  Giant Fall flea Market:   CC floods Ocean Pathway —gridlock

Sept 16  British Car Show  CC closes down Main Avenue:   gridlock

October 6 Fall Harvest Festival CC  closes down Main Avenue: gridlock

Note: Every Saturday during the summer season is a gridlock day due to beach attendance and when residents and their guests crowd the town during all those weekends. But that is to be expected. This is a beach town.

But now we are addressing mega Saturday tourist events such as the Giant Craft Show on the Pathway which make the town hopelessly paralyzed.

So what other Jersey Shore towns have so many gridlock Saturday special events geared towards tourists and oppressively imposed  on the residents?

Consider Bradley Beach:  Just one–The Lobster Festival.  Holiday celebrations such as Memorial Day weekend don’t count because they are automatically part of summer.      The rest are things like line dancing, music on the boards, opera by the sea, Italian Festival, Bradley Beach Day etc. which are primarily for the residents and don’t cause gridlock.

Here is a link to our recent piece about the struggle in Bradley Beach over one such mega event.  It’s very interesting:

Bf reports on Bradley Beach struggle with mega-event

Consider Belmar mega:  Just a car show and the NJ Seafood  Festival.

Consider Avon mega:  no mega events

Consider Asbury mega:  Oyster Festival.  They have many activities including music, shows, farmers markets, fine restaurants, bars and boardwalk events like the Zombies,  but these enhance the image of A. Park and are not merely mega events to suck in huge numbers of tourists like we have. They have crowds and parking issues, but those crowds are drawn to the vibe of A. Park not to giant marketplaces where you can just buy stuff.

Consider Seaside Heights:  Nothing mega.   Jersey Shore Festival;  otherwise arts and crafts, boardwalk fun/food, and soccer tourney.

Consider Spring Lake:  Nothing mega.  Just sensible small events for residents and guests:    House tour, art in the park, garden tour, art walk, sidewalk sale, etc.

 

Only OG has huge  events that overwhelm the town.    What good does any of this do for the people of Ocean Grove?  The CMA mostly attracts crowds from outside the Grove.  All of the Shore  towns have events, but they are primarily for the residents, such as ballroom dancing, concerts on the boardwalk, competitions for kids, etc.

Of the towns listed, we are the smallest and the most paralyzed by contrived tourist events.  There is no reason to continue these overwhelming Saturday gridlocks—the Township needs to reduce the numbers to be in line with other Jersey  Shore towns.  But will they?  No.   These other communities make sure that their citizens enjoy the summer season in their home towns.  Tourism, yes, but sensibly done.

Do the people of Ocean Grove want their town to be a circus every Saturday in season?  Here is a march from Barnum and Bailey:

 

 

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Ocean Grove beach. June, 2002. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

 

Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger

Jack, Kevin and I left the Mother Ship to return to our car after attending  the Neptune Township Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA)  meeting  May 2, 2018.  But as we walked through the parking lot we were approached by a couple who had attended the Aurora Hotel hearing but did not say a word during the hearing for which they had traveled one hour to attend.

They said that they moved to the Grove in 2005 because they thought it was a “charming and special place.”   Like so many who have moved here, they had fallen in love with this unique small town, but in recent years, they noticed a decline in their quality of life.

They mentioned the noise and congestion.  A strong sense of community had failed to materialize.  Parking had become awful, and the town was becoming overrun with tourists who often clogged the streets causing gridlock that was becoming progressively worse.

The heavy-handed Neptune government was allowing a deterioration of  historical preservation, culture and zoning in the Grove, and their decisions were causing perceptible damage to life styles for residents.

They thought the taxes were  exorbitant for what they received in return.  Then they had enough and moved to a New Jersey town that was more appealing to them. They still own their OG home, but they rented it out.

The couple  came to the meeting with the slim hope that the ZBA would do the right thing for one of OG’s historic treasures, but they were disappointed by the indicators at the hearing.  Their plan now is to sell their OG home.

We know others who also have moved or are thinking about leaving for a variety of similar reasons. One of those reasons is the inconsistency of the HPC.  And then there are the wrong-headed, impotent Home Groaners.  The Chamber just makes things worse with their self-interested giant mega events.

As for zoning, “The primary purpose of zoning is to segregate uses that are thought to be incompatible. But in practice, zoning also is used to prevent new development from interfering with existing uses and/or to preserve the ‘character’ of a community.  (Wikipedia.)”     In other words, zoning is supposed to offer protection and to level the land-use playing field for everyone.

The NY State Office of General Counsel says,  “Courts have regularly found a legitimate purpose in zoning regulations which are aimed at achieving a homogeneous, traditional single-family neighborhood. ”

But in the town of Ocean Grove, special interests get to defy land use laws in order to provide special deals for developers, politicians, the CMA, and others. An example is the designation of the North End as an area in need of redevelopment, abolishing desirable single family housing zoning.

Residents experience growing frustration and find themselves at the bottom of the priority list.

Ocean Grove, after peaking and looking like it had a bright future as a marvelous place to live year-round, has shown unmistakable signs of losing ground in the quest to evolve into a fair-minded residential historic district with unique character, culture and community.

 

GERRY MULLIGAN.  “Here’s That Rainy Day.”

 

 

 

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OGCMA PRESS RELEASE:

Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OCGMA) Grants Development Rights To Ocean Grove North End Development LLC (OGNED) to Develop North End Ocean-Front Site

“(Thursday April 26, 2018)  The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA) has announced that it has signed an “Options Agreement” with the Ocean Grove North End Development LLC (OGNED) to allow OGNED to develop the land parcel between Wesley Lake and Spray Ave; the boardwalk and Beach Avenue.  This is the site of the former North End Hotel, which burned down in 1974.  The parcel has laid fallow for over 40 years, and has been an eyesore to the residents of Ocean Grove.

“In 2005, OGCMA engaged a developer to create a landmark hotel and residential project to address the underdeveloped beachfront real estate. After discussion with the residents of Ocean Grove and the Township of Neptune, OGCMA significantly redesigned the requirements for the redevelopment.  The originally planned housing density was scaled back.  The redevelopment lowered the number of condominiums by well over 50% and added ten single family homes.  The revised plan contains a 40 room “boutique hotel”. The plan includes a parking garage which will have enough spaces for the residents and hotel guests.

“We are delighted that OGNED has stepped forward with a sensible development plan that will respect the historical and architectural elements of our community,” said Michael Badger, President of OGCMA.

“More detailed planning and construction plans will be subject to township building regulations, when they are brought forward.

“After lengthy negations with OGNED, the Trustees of OGCMA unanimously approved the Options Agreement,” said OGCMA President Michael Badger.  “OGNED will have a 99-year land lease to develop the property, in exchange for which the community will see a beach-front hotel, aesthetically new housing designed to respect Ocean Grove’s Victorian architecture, and some boardwalk retail shops. The maps of Ocean Grove from the 1880’s contained a plan for the North End hotel and it will be excellent to have the founders’ vision fulfilled again,” Badger added. “

Editor’s Note:   This surprise announcement raises all sorts of questions including whether this is still a “redevelopment area” with the zoning that is imposed by such a designation.  Blogfinger will be looking closely at this announcement.

And where is the OGHOA on this topic?  Were they complicit or were they left in the dark?

And finally, where is the Township Committee on this?  If Neptune has been participating in creating this new plan, why haven’t they represented the citizens of the Grove by mentioning this at their public meetings?  Will they make a statement now?  Will they pass a resolution?

Blogfinger spoke to the Mayor two days ago about a variety of public issues, and he said nothing about this.

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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

In a recent Blogfinger opinion piece, we said, “Will we 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?”

“All that will be left to focus on will 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, will 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.  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.

For Mantoloking there is the awesome devastation wrought by Sandy.  So the Jersey Shore is changing everywhere, but each town has its own unique challenges.

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 and 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 area?

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:

Blogfinger poll on historic heritage in OG

 

SARAH VAUGHAN  sings a Cole Porter Broadway  song:

 

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Internet photo

We have written about this Airbnb subject before, but this “long time resident” contacted Blogfinger on April 7 because he is “totally disgusted by the abuse of certain homeowners who are turning their homes into one night or two night stand hotels” which he calls “hometels.”

He sent a letter of complaint about this to the Neptune Township Code Enforcement Department and cc’d Blogfinger.   Here is an edited version:

1. “These overnight hometels are in arms distance of my home and growing at an alarming rate.”

2. “They are destroying Ocean Grove as a community and a place to raise children.”

3. “They are creating a nightmare with parking, and come summer, it will once again become unbearable to live in this mayhem.”

4.  Mr. Totally Disgusted asks the Township to fine and raise the taxes of those landlords who are engaged in “rental abuse” and causing a “downward spiral” in town.

He ends his letter with “Let’s keep this town residential and not a one-night-stand-stopoff.”

Here is a link to Airbnb rentals in Ocean Grove.  One example offers a one bedroom apartment, 2.5 blocks to beach, from $200/night

www.airbnb.com/s/Ocean-Grove–NJ/homes?type=apartment&listing_types%5B%5D=1&s_tag=1IQMRFvI&allow_override%5B%5D=&refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes

Here is a Blogfinger post regarding airbnb:

Airbnb Blogfinger post summer 2017

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:   Is this a growing problem?   Do these rentals really impact our quality of life in the Grove?  Does the Township actually enforce a new Certificate of Inspection  (CI)  with each rental?  Does the township need to legislate this or just follow their existing rules?  —-PG

 

ELVIS:

 

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This lucky bug sits contentedly in a rare OG driveway. Don't be rude and block his egress, or his people will be very mad. Paul Goldfinger photo. Undated. ©

This lucky bug, Mr. Blue,  sits contentedly in a rare OG driveway. Don’t be rude and block his egress, or his people will be very mad.  His theme song, by the Fleetwoods,, is below  Paul Goldfinger photo. Undated. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net

 

This conversation was begun in the context of storm news, as a snow storm hit Ocean Grove on January 27, 2015.  Comments are posted  chronologically here instead of the usual location.   Editing might be required for clarity, grammar, spelling, and sanity.

Mr. Right   Jan. 27, 2015 —–“Something needs to be said about parking etiquette. If one neighbor spends 30 minutes digging his car out only for his **#$@% neighbor to pull into that spot as soon as he leaves, that is wrong! In the past, diggers have placed garbage cans, etc. to hold their spot, and as far as I am concerned, that is perfectly ethical to do, even though the police will not back you up if someone removes the can and parks there anyhow.”

Marie Coppinger. Jan. 27, 2015—-   “May I comment on “parking etiquette”? I have been in O.G. for many years and this comes up every year. These are public streets. You cannot “hold” a parking space just because you shoveled it out. How would I know who shoveled any given space? And if I do park in my neighbor’s spot, it is because some one has parked in the space I recently shoveled. Let’s be reasonable.” 

Blogfinger.  Marie is correct that this topic has appeared before, but some subjects are worth rehashing.  Here is a link to July 2013 when there were many comments about this subject.   holding spaces link

Plump Mike.  Jan 28.   “I guess Mary took her neighbor’s parking spot. If each homeowner took the time to dig out one space near their home, making it easy to enter and exit, then this wouldn’t be as much an issue. It’s  a shame that OG taxpayers don’t have a space reserved for each home like they have in many north Jersey towns. If you could dig out your space, it would be there for you when you get home from the grocery store.  Taxpayers should get a break from the town on the parking situation, especially in the winter where it can be a hardship to walk four blocks in the cold.” 

Pam.  Jan 28.  “It is a shame that as tax payers we aren’t entitled to one parking spot. Nevertheless my husband and I try to show courtesy to our neighbors even in the summer and other seasons. We try very hard to park in the same spots every time thus leaving spots free for our neighbors to park in front of their houses.

“I wish something could be done for our OG elderly who should be able to park in their spot. It’s hard for them to have to carry groceries or maneuver in the snow if their car is a ways from their houses; and they shouldn’t have to search for a parking spot during the height of the summer. If only a little civility could be shown to our neighbors and the elderly. Then we could get busy figuring out a way to provide parking for tourists and for those owning commercial trucks so they don’t take our spots away.”

Mary Lou.  Jan 28.  “We are all pretty respectful of each others “parking territory” on my street. I like to park in the usual space nearest to my front door because I leave for work at 6 am in the morning. On a dark, icy winter morning, I appreciate the fact that I have a short distance to get to my car. During the summer, I don’t care if I’m parked at a distance.”

Doubting Thomas.  Jan 28.  This reminds me of internet etiquette, which is still evolving.  Rules of politeness  must be written down and acknowledged by most civilized citizens if they are to be honored, but such rules don’t exist for Grovers with snow drifts.  So we must rely on the instincts of residents who perhaps have certain values in their DNA, or, at, least in their subconscious where common themes exist based on our culture.  Having said that, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, because the NTPD won’t get in the middle of this unless there is blood on the snow.

Embury Resident.   Jan. 29.     This is intended for the parking etiquette conversation. I have a driveway and only come down on weekends. I try to be a good neighbor and pay someone to clean my (empty) driveway & sidewalk after a snow fall. I did this yesterday. He cleaned everything, only to call me today to let me know that one of my “neighbors” threw all the snow he shoveled from his property onto my driveway. Not very neighborly.

Paul Devine.  Jan. 30.  I am not in OG many weekends in the winter. Without reserved spots neighbors are able to use the spot which eases parking for our wonderful neighbors. I do agree that something should be done with cars that are warehoused on the street and not used.

Jo Ann Marino. Jan 30.   Homeowners in Lavallette who do not have a driveway pay an annual fee to the town for a designated parking space on the street near or outside their home. A win win situation.

Paul Goldfinger.  Jan 30.  Jo Ann—There are a number of constituencies in Ocean Grove including tourists, homeowners, renters, merchants and others.  The group that is ignored in this conversation are the homeowners who live here year round or part time. They have been ignored as far as the parking situation is concerned.  I totally agree that we too should receive a reserved space in front of our homes. This is a common solution around the state of New Jersey.

Wisher. Feb. 1—I am bothered that few people shovel. Now ice and snow have solidified around cars, and cannot be removed. So instead of winter in New England, the scene looks more like Arctic Station Ocean Grove.  There are many able-bodied hipsters renting in my Asbury Ave. neighborhood with nice cars and no shovel. Out of the whole two blocks around me, it was just me and another older guy shoveling our spaces. Then we pull out, and someone is there in the space when we get back.

It is a shame because it is great exercise and a way to meet people through simple acts of kindness.

 

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