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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove controversies’ Category

By Sue Gioulis, Blogfinger staff based on a BF photograph from July, 2016.

 

By Jack Bredin, researcher and reporter @Blogfinger and Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

At the Township Committee meeting of May 22, 2017, the Township Attorney Gene Anthony finally stopped making excuses for the stalled North End project with an announcement saying, “Mr. Gannon has an agreement with the new redeveloper and WAVE.”

William Gannon III is the spokesman, the leader, and the lawyer for WAVE, the mysterious group behind the North End Redevelopment Project (NERP) which has been languishing since 2008.

Jack Bredin went to the microphone to ask Anthony, “How can WAVE select a new redeveloper? You become a redeveloper when you sign a Redeveloper’s Agreement with the Township, and WAVE has never signed its own contract with Neptune Township.”

Anthony replied, “That may be true, but the Township Committee designated WAVE as a redeveloper.” 

Yikes, talk about evading a question!

Let’s take a look at some background information regarding the term “redeveloper” as it pertains to the North End project. And let’s also pay close attention to the words “Committee,” “WAVE,” “Association” (i.e. OGCMA,) “Redeveloper’s Agreement,” and “developer.” And let’s look for misuse of the English language that would distract from the truth.

On June 9, 2008, the Township Committee adopted Resolution #292 designating Wesley Atlantic Village Enterprises LLC (WAVE) and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA or Association) as Co-Redevelopers of the NERP.

Resolution # 292 said “Whereas the Association conducted an extensive process to seek and interview potential developers for the property, and….

“Whereas, the Association selected Wesley Atlantic Village Enterprises, LLC as the developer of the property.”   (Note that the word “redeveloper” is not used in these two quotes)*

We believe that illegal procedures were used to get this project going in a direction that suited the developers and not the people of Ocean Grove.

To begin with, the selection process should have been conducted by the Township, not the Association, including advertising a request for proposals followed by a public bidding process as required by law.

The Township Committee allowed the Association to usurp the Committee’s legal authority to select a redeveloper. In a redevelopment project, the Township is in charge and should be the entity that selects a redeveloper.

In addition, the resolution confuses the issue (? intentionally) by twice referring to “developers” instead of “redevelopers.”   These words are not synonymous.

So, from the beginning, the whole process has been tainted, and now, at the May 22, 2017 meeting, it was reported that the Committee is currently permitting WAVE to do the same thing, i.e. to usurp its authority to select a redeveloper. In other words, the first illegal redeveloper is now choosing another illegal redeveloper. And the Committee, the citizens’ elected representative, remains silent on this shell game.

It also must be noted that no entity can be officially named as “Redeveloper” without signing a Redevelopers Agreement, and neither WAVE, the Association, or the new kid on the block (currently not identified by Anthony) have ever signed such a contract with the Township.

When will our elected officials take the side of the citizens, follow the laws, and favor the Master Plan as they deal with North End redevelopment ?

So here’s a metaphor.  Consider that the Town Committee are a bunch of teddy bears having a grand old time at their regular picnic, aka the Committee meetings. They love to dance and prance and act innocent, but they are blind to the forest rangers who are watching them very carefully.

ANNE MURRAY

 

 

 

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Ocean Grove fishing pier pre-Sandy. By Paul Goldfinger. Undated. Blogfinger.net©

 

Bob Bowné says, “Speaking of fishing piers… I have heard that OGCMA has been completely stonewalling the the OG fishing club pier and club house rebuild.

“Does anyone have any further info on this? What is the agenda here?”

 

Editor’s note:  When Bob says “Speaking of fishing piers…” he is referencing his photograph which appeared earlier this year.  Below is a link to that post:

Bob Bowné at Belmar pier

 

RICHARD KILEY  from the Man of La Mancha, the story of a pursuit of truth and beauty.

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Today Blogfinger received an email from Rev. John DiGiamberadino, the Executive Director/COO of the OGCMA.  He sent us a press release regarding a law suit being brought against the Jersey Shore Arts Center. He says,  “The Camp Meeting tries to resolve long-standing dispute with Jersey Shore Arts Center:”

The press release is posted below.

This is the second news story where the JSAC is embroiled in a law suit. The first has to do with a discrimination charge brought against the JSAC  by the Q Spot.

May 1, 2017 – The Ocean Grove Camp Association (OGCMA) has filed a civil law suit seeking to resolve a long-standing dispute with the Jersey Shore Arts Center (JSAC). The goal of the suit is to consummate a ground lease for the property. This is an effort that has been ongoing for approximately 18 years, following the return of the property to the OGCMA by the Neptune Board of Education:

 

“The OGCMA appreciates the many contributions the JSAC has made and continues to make in our shared community,” says John DiGiamberardino, COO.  “The Camp Meeting has been extremely reasonable and respectful in trying to reach an agreement that is mutually acceptable. The JSAC lack of response has been disappointing and frustrating given that all property in Ocean Grove is subject to land lease agreements.

“The OGCMA has no desire to involve itself in the ongoing operations of the JSAC or any of its programs. Rather, our intentions are simple and straightforward. In order to meet our fiduciary responsibilities, we must finally bring this issue to closure. 

“In conclusion we stand ready and available to meet with the JSAC at any time to discuss this matter of mutual importance.”

 

 

 

 

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

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net

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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Can you talk without moving your lips?  Taylor Mason can. Go to the show and see if you think the dummy on his lap is talking.

Regarding the summer secular schedule in OG, Mike Love of the Beach Boys told APP.com, regarding the Great Auditorium, “I love that place, it’s great, it’s one of the classic venues that we perform at,” Love said of the Great Auditorium in a 2014 interview.”

And, he added with a laugh, “One of the great things about Ocean Grove is the proximity to some fantastic ice cream parlors. We find a lot of pleasure in coming there.”

And he is just one of many GA Saturday night performers who have praised that fabulous music venue as they stood on the stage of the GA  including Tony Bennett who liked to try and sing acapella there. I have heard quite a few musicians and singers express how awed they felt being inside that giant cello of a building.

CAST OF GYPSY   (2008 Broadway revival:)

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Entrance to Ocean Grove at Main Avenue. Blogfinger photo.

FROM FRAN HOPKINS:

I had to read and re-read the two Neptune Township letter excerpts* a few times until I finally “got it.” In 2005, Neptune Township asked that it be allowed to require only on-street parking in Ocean Grove. The State said “no.” In 2009, the Township asked a second time, but rephrased the request to ask that it be allowed to prohibit off-street parking in Ocean Grove. This is the same thing, just worded differently, if I’m understanding this correctly; and again, the state said “no.”  The 2005 Township request said that it would apply to “future residential development”; the 2009 request said it would be “new residential development.”

In denying its repeated requests to not have to require off-street parking in Ocean Grove, the State reminded the Township that, since 1997–eight and 12 years, respectively, before Neptune made these requests–Neptune (of which Ocean Grove is a part) had been required, by law, to comply with the RSIS standards (including the parking requirements).

Also, the State’s 2005 letter was clear that RSIS applies to “all site improvements” involving residential development. The State didn’t limit RSIS’s applicability to new development only; yet that’s what the Township specified in its subsequent 2009 request. I don’t know enough about this to know the differences in meaning among “future residential development,” “new residential development,” and “all site improvements for residential development,” but I would think that the State’s wording is much broader.

So if I’m a reader who knows nothing about this situation except what I’ve read in these letter excerpts, I can only conclude that:

1. From 1997 through 2005, the Township complied with RSIS and required off-street parking in Ocean Grove for all site improvements for residential development, since apparently it didn’t ask the State during this time to permit it to NOT comply.

2. From 2005 through 2009, Neptune Township continued to adhere to the RSIS standards (including those related to parking) in Ocean Grove because the State affirmed in response to the Township’s 2005 request that its compliance was required by law.

3. From 2009 through the present, the Township remained, and remains, in compliance with RSIS standards because the State reiterated in 2009 that the Township (including Ocean Grove) was legally required to comply.

I’m sure I’m oversimplifying this, but is my reasoning correct? If it is, then do my conclusions accurately describe what’s occurred in Ocean Grove since 1997? If not, why? Despite what the State said, are there/have there been legal ways for Neptune Township to bypass RSIS? For example, would non-compliance be legally possible because of Ocean Grove’s Historic District designation? But if that were the case, then why did the State deny a non-compliance request for Ocean Grove twice?

I did come across the December 17, 2015 minutes of the NJ Site Improvement Advisory Board (SIAB) that Blogfinger and others attended. I saw a statement in there in response to comments by Kevin Chambers:

“Chairman Doyle and Ms. McKenzie responded by explaining that enforcement is a local issue. Towns have the ability to reduce the parking required for a specific project. There is flexibility built into the parking requirements in the rules. Notice is provided to the Board when a de minimis exception or agreement to exceed has been approved to enable the Board to continue to review the rules, and to make revisions, when necessary. Chairman Doyle added that any evidence of corruption should be reported to the proper agencies.”

Was the SIAB saying that it’s OK to make “exceptions” to the parking requirements, as long as SIAB is notified? Has the Township been doing this? Maybe not, and perhaps that’s why its “special area standards” applications have been denied — because the SIAB knows full well that the Township has been disregarding the RSIS standards all along.

The thing I’m still not “getting” is how it could be that residential development that’s not in compliance with state standards–i.e., that’s illegal–has been going on in Ocean Grove for 20 years. I was an Ocean Grove homeowner for only a short time and hope that longer-time residents can explain this.

I do know that the extreme lack of convenient parking, which was only getting worse, was one of the main reasons I decided I had to leave last summer. It’s unbelievable and upsetting to think that the people whom residents entrusted with the care of this uniquely beautiful little area are the ones who let this happen.

Why does Ocean Grove remain part of Neptune Township? I know a vote to secede from the Township failed in 1980 (although a majority of Ocean Grove voters were in favor of the move). It may be time to try again.

Editor’s note:  We welcome Fran Hopkins’ attempt to penetrate what seems almost impenetrable. The RSIS story in Ocean Grove is complex, so her summary and her questions are well worth airing out now for a 2017 update.

And, here is a link to a 2011 Blogfinger post, updated to 2015, where Kevin Chambers offers a brilliant summary regarding  this issue. Don’t miss Kevin’s discussion by clicking on the link below.

Chambers on RSIS parking

–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.  May 1, 2017.

*2 letters from State to Neptune

JENNIFER THAYER:


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The North End on the occasion of the NERP’s ninth anniversary. Blogfinger photo 10/16. ©  Click to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor and Jack Bredin, Researcher.

At the April 24, 2017 Committee meeting, Jack Bredin went to the microphone to ask about the recent Coaster ad seeking a redevelopment attorney for Neptune Township. He found out that the ad was placed by the Committee without a formal resolution to back it up.  This is not a position which is part of the usual Township line-up of employees and consultants.  The Township already employs very knowledgeable attorneys for the Planning Board and the Township who are currently on the payroll.

But evidently the Committee needs a  lawyer who has a bigger tow truck to pull the NERP (North End Redevelopment Plan) out of the haze, smoke and mud it’s been stuck in for years.

Hiring for such a position, which undoubtedly will be costly for the Township, should be justified in a resolution, but Jack was told that no resolution was required. The Committee said, “We don’t need one.”

You might recall that the original NERP from 2008 was still in effect. It consists of 165 residential units (mostly condominiums,) an underground garage, and a hotel.  Many are skeptical regarding the latter two components.  You might also recall that no formal engineering plans have ever been submitted to estimate  the costs and to explain the engineering challenges of the whole project, especially the garage and the pilings.

WAVE and the CMA are still listed as the redevelopers, although the CMA has said that it no longer wanted that job.  WAVE has been promising to present its financing arrangements and to identify its investing partners, but that hasn’t occurred so far either.  A redevelopment plan cannot go forward without those financial details.  Also no formal re-developers agreement has ever been signed.

In January a newly enlarged redevelopment committee was announced which will not only deal with the OG North End, but with other redevelopment projects around town. No one from Ocean Grove is on that line-up.  How about some affirmative action for the Grovers?

It would appear that the new lawyer will have a lot of  ‘splaining to do.

THE OINKER SISTERS:  The current NERP has been a dead duck for some time… or is it a pig?   Well, it’s time for a new way to walk at the North End.  (song by Joe Raposo on Sesame Street)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Framing at the Whitfield site–Surf at Beach. Photo by a citizen photographer. 4/21/17. ©

 

Whitfield Watcher says,  “I’m wondering if the scale of these  new homes are really what the law permits. The Whitfield was not nearly this dense. This new Monopoly block of luxury housing dwarfs everything around it. “

Editor’s note:  We have reported on the size of this property which will contain 4 houses on 4 undersized lots. We questioned the permission that was granted for this “subdivision.”  And  what about the height of those houses?  They are obviously out of scale for the neighborhood.  Why aren’t the neighbors complaining?

Here is a link to one of our Whitfield related posts. This is from March 18, 2017.

Alchemy in the Grove

KEVIN SPACEY  from the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

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Re:  Dispute regarding ground rents for condo owners.   The item below this sentence appeared recently  in the Wassup? section of Blogfinger.net:

Condominium associations lose their suit regarding ground rents.  The two condo units are on Ocean Pathway.  The ruling allows the Camp Meeting to change ground rent charges according to the sale price of the unit.

Here are links to two of our three Blogfinger February, 2017 posts  about this subject. This court ruling can have major implications regarding the condo market in OG.  The lawyer for the condo owners has recommended an appeal.

Blogfinger article Feb. 17, 2017 on ground rents

History of ground rents in OG

 

To the Editor:

I am Gorton Wood and  I live at 40 Ocean Pathway;  I am one of the litigants in the ground rent lawsuit.

In 2007 when I purchased my 1,090 square foot condo (two bedrooms and one bath,) I was given a ground rent spreadsheet schedule by OGCMA. It was titled “New Condo/Townhouse Ground Rent.” It covered a period of 12 years. The first three years I paid 1% of the sale price of my condo or $475.00 per year. The second three years it went to 1.5% of my sales price or $712.50 per year. The third three years it went to 2% of my sales price or $950.00 per year. The final three years it grew to 2.5% of my sales price or 1,187.50 per year. Then beginning year 13 and going on forever [hold your hat], it was going to be tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which could be 3%, 4%, 5% annually, who knows. I could end up having to pay an annual ground rent of $3,000 or more annually.

On two occasions I went to the OGCMA and demanded to have someone explain  who cooked this up (Jack Green—I learned from another source) and  when did they cook this up?  No one would speak to me. Then in 2014 I wrote out my ground rent check and sent a message to the OGCMA saying that when they gave me a meeting I would bring my check. They never responded. In 2015 I did they same thing and again they refused to grant me a meeting. Then I received a letter from their law firm in Freehold saying if I did not pay immediately, they would prosecute me.

I am willing to go to any length, even alone, to have this situation corrected. I don’t believe any of the owners, myself included, expect to not pay ground rent, but for God’s sake make it fair. I actually wrote the OGCMA and their law firm a letter saying I was confident I could get every owner at 40 Ocean Pathway and 30 Ocean Pathway to agree to $200.00 a year. They wrote back basically telling me to take a hike.

GORTON WOOD

Ocean Grove, NJ, April 10, 2017

The writer is a resident of a condominium at #40 Ocean Pathway.

 

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Which way do we go in Ocean Grove? OG Boardwalk by Paul Goldfinger ©

 By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

The recent articles on Blogfinger about the quest for a driveway at 27 Heck Avenue, are about much more than a place to park one car.  In the grand scheme of things, as some have stated,  we have a lot more problems in the Grove than whether to allow a homeowner to build a driveway on his property. But that doesn’t mean that we should ignore seemingly small issues.

Small issues can represent much larger ones which may be revealed in one of our posts when citizens participate in the discussions and share their curious questions, opinions and knowledge.

In the process of discussing the Sampler driveway, our readers have invoked the following issues:

  1. Enforcing the land use laws in our town
  2. Special political and land use treatment   (favoritism) for certain people in town
  3. Failure of the efforts to solve the parking problems
  4.  Use of inappropriate historic precedents in making current decisions.  For example the subdivision of the Whitfield site.
  5. Understanding Township ordinances, Master Plan, subdivisions, lot conformity, and zoning.
  6. Variances and what they do
  7. What is the flare and can you park in the flare?
  1. Do campaign contributions influence the decisions of Neptune politicians?
  2. Role of citizen activists in opposing efforts to diminish our town
  3. What are curb cuts?
  4. Are new Victorians historic?
  5. What are RSIS standards regarding parking?
  6. What is the role of the CMA in situations such as this?
  7. What is the role of the HOA—where have they been up to now regarding land use topics?

15  What goes on at those Zoning Board meetings?

  1. Is there equal  justice in the Grove?

And this is why we at Blogfinger find our efforts on behalf of the town to be so satisfying. The driveway topic is about getting from here to there at the old Sampler site, but the resultant discussions are  about so much more.

RITCHIE HAVENS AND THE PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND:

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