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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove controversies’ Category

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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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 repost is from 2017, but still relevant in 2020.

Probably the biggest complaint about the HPC 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.”

So let’s find out how many nicknames exist for this building and we will send the list to the HPC so that they can frame it.   Send your suggestions to Blogfinger as a comment  (click below right.)

 

DOOLEY WILSON  from Casablanca   “As time goes by.”

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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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The Lagoon* at Shell Point, a private contained religious-owned community in Fort Myers, Florida Paul Goldfinger photo. Jan, 2020.

 

 

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger.

Is the Camp Meeting Association’s unique status in Ocean Grove  so unusual that there is no other town exactly like it?  We would be interested to find another for historical and comparison purposes.

After all, the OGCMA is a religious organization with its own goals within the larger universe of Neptune Township and Ocean Grove.  They own 99% of the land in OG and they have political leverage in Neptune Township even though they no longer have official power.  When they governed the town—1869 to 1980, everyone had to follow their rules.

They functioned like a gated community.   They would interview prospective residents and explain that all who were accepted had to follow those rules, many of which were religious based, such as the constraints on many activities on Sundays.

But OG is no longer like a gated community. No one can make laws for Ocean Grove except the elected officials in Neptune.  Of course the CMA can make rules for its own buildings  (like no food in the Great Auditorium and no gay weddings in its chapel.)  Some would say that the CMA can make rules for its public parks and for the beachfront (eg no admittance on Sunday morning.)  The entire town is prevented from organizing certain events on Sunday, such as occur in Asbury Park  (eg  Pride Parade  and their January Beer Festival.)  Such limitations trace back to the CMA and they still persist in 2020.

We discovered  one such place similar to the OGCMA within the city of Fort Myers, Florida, called Shell Point.  This is a 700 acre community that provides homes and life styles for retirees. Everything within its boundaries is owned by the CMA—the Christian Missionary Alliance.

Unlike the OGCMA, the Alliance owns both the land and all the residences (homes, condos, apartments.)   And, unlike with the OGCMA, everyone who lives in Shell Point has signed a contract to follow all the rules.  So if they say “no alcohol” within their boundaries, then that is what happens, and rule breakers can be forced out, and the city stays out of it.

OGCMA insists on no alcohol in town by convincing Neptune to have an ordinance—an actual law, but only in the OG part of town.   So the way that power is exerted, in this regard, is different for these two religious-based communities when compared to each other.

Like OG, Shell Point is bordered by water on 3 sides, and they have a large central auditorium where religious events are held.  They also have parking problems. Governance is by a Board that has a mixture of religious and lay people.  The residents do pay some property taxes, but the amount is small and shared with management.  Everything is leased.

Unlike Ocean Grove, Shell Point does resemble a gated community but without gates.  And it is different in many other ways as well.

Geographically, the OGCMA is woven into the fabric of life in the Grove, literally and figuratively, whereas Shell Point’s properties, physical and otherwise,  are clearly demarcated by boundaries and this characteristic reduces the chances of clashes with the community at large, as sometimes occur in Ocean Grove.

Overall, we would be hard pressed to find any towns in New Jersey that are comparable to OG, especially the way we have the CMA which is part and yet not part of our town at the same time.

At a person-to-person level, an important difference  is that there is considerable overlap of the OGCMA with the secular and diverse residents of Ocean Grove.  And that is where conflicts may occur, as we saw in 2007 during the gay civil ceremony angry exchanges and the fight over Kirk Cameron’s appearance in the Great Auditorium. And now we have the Parking Wars.

In Shell Point, the residents are all on the same page and rarely overlap in important ways with those who live outside their invisible borders.

And unlike with many gated communities and unlike Shell Point, our CMA isn’t able to exert its powers of persuasion within a geographically demarcated zone, as it did pre-1980, and the demographics in OG are now quite diverse.  We are sometimes stepping on each others’ toes, priorities and life styles.

So Shell Point does resemble Ocean Grove’s CMA in some ways, and that is interesting, but there are many differences.

We are still looking for another community where a religious presence like the CMA coexists in a comfortable way with others in town.  We have found no nearly identical community to compare with.

So we are on our own in OG,  trying to find solutions to certain issues, and sometimes that seems insurmountable as with parking.  And that is why parking is about more than parking.

 

* “Forever Friends” is a 1500 pound stainless steel structure by Douglas Hayes (b. 1968) and donated by a Shell Point benefactor.  The birds have a 10 foot wing span.  The lagoon features manatees which visit regularly.  Shell Point is open to the public and has various races and religions among its residents.

 

PAUL MOTIAN:    “I Remember You”

 

[/audio

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William Heatley was taking a ride in a banner plane over the beach in OG. It was August, 1981, and he took this photo. © Special to Blogfinger.net

William Heatley was taking a ride in a banner plane over the beach in OG. It was August, 1981, and he took this photo. © Special to Blogfinger.net  Click to enlarge   Re-post from 2015.

Note Wesley Lake to the right. The North End Hotel has been torn down, but the salt water swimming pool remains.  You can see the outlines of the North End area which will be “re-developed” according to the North End Re-development Plan. and imagine where the condos will be along Lake Avenue, Spray Avenue, and the Ocean. Then imagine a hotel there which probably will actually become condos.  Oh, and don’t forget the parking garage underground, stores, and new North End boardwalk.

The process is currently moving forward, and that “progress” is being followed here on Blogfinger. Pay close attention to the changes in NERP 2008 which are being slipped into place.      See our post later today.    —–PG

Thanks to William Heatley for making his photograph available here.

ASTRUD GILBERTO  “Only Trust Your Heart.”

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Main Avenue Ocean Grove. The people want to preserve our lifestyle and keep the small town of Ocean Grove historic and uncluttered. Paul Goldfinger photo of the Days Kazoo Band on July 4.    Blogfinger.net

 

We have announced the forthcoming Planning Board meeting and have encouraged citizens to attend. I would caution you about a dirty trick sometimes evoked in the past whenever a controversial topic was to be discussed at the Mother Ship.

If a large number of Grovers were anticipated to attend, the meeting might be cancelled and rescheduled in the dead of winter.

Here’s a copy of some information transmitted by email from the OGHOA:

“The North End Redevelopment Agreement will be on the agenda for the next scheduled meeting of the Neptune Township Planing Board on Wednesday, November 13.  7 pm in the second floor meeting room at the Municipal Building, 25 Neptune Boulevard.

“The Planning Board will review the Redevelopment Agreement and the many plans that are incorporated in the Agreement. These include the site plan, traffic plan, drainage plan, landscaping plan and architectural drawings. There’s a lot to unpack here, and the Planning Board’s review is a key part of the process.

“If you care about this issue; the obligations of the redeveloper and how construction in the North End is expected to unfold, you should attend the Planning Board meeting.”

 

Blogfinger finds this message from the Groaners to be hopelessly incomplete either due to  ignorance of the subject or purposeful evasiveness.

Among the many issues which should be addressed in the open include:  Environmental impact, financial guarantees, parking garage, parking in the neighborhood, easements across the boardwalk, subdividing one lot into two,  plans to block public access, impact on Grover lifestyles in that area and actually all over town, air and light for the public, relationship with the Asbury Park Casino, elevations related to the boardwalk,  pollution of Wesley Lake, plans for Lake Avenue,  HPC evaluation, flood prevention,  retaining wall along the lake, payment to repave the Municipal Building parking lot, types of retail, condominium details, access for fire and sanitation, CMA ground rents agreements, and the very legality of these proceedings.

Since this plan is a redevelopment plan which received preferential zoning, the public has a need- to-know place in the process. This presentation should be an open book, and the reading of that book should take many meetings to be done properly.  Maybe you can think of some topics that you would like to hear about.

Can you imagine that all the above “plans”  might be approved in one fell swoop?  Well, if the Planning Board wants to rush it through  (a “snow job,”) they will, but the topic and all its ramifications  should be carefully considered, and that should require many public meetings.

Blogfinger reporters will be at the meeting, and Jack will be breathing fire, and hopefully he won’t be the only one bringing a ring of fire.

—PG     Blogfinger.net

 

JOHNNY CASH: 

 

 

 

 

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

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net

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

3/19 Aurora BF post

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

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

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

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

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

So, the use variance was granted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

JOHN DENVER     “Looking for Space”

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

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