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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove governance’ Category

The NTPD traffic patrol vehicle paused by this car, checked out the parking, and drove off without issuing a ticket. Blogfinger photo. 9/25/17. ©

We have complained before  about inconsistent law enforcement in the Grove, for example regarding parking, posting notices, and checking for yard sale licenses.  The broken windows theory of law enforcement emphasizes the need to enforce small infractions in order to prevent larger ones.  But  inconsistent enforcement breeds uncertainty, indifference, and resentment among the populace  (who have torches and pitchforks.)

For example, people have to wonder if they should take the time and money to go to town hall for their yard sale permit. Or whether to worry if they park, as in this example, with their car butt overhanging the yellow line—definitely a violation.   Such inconsistency results in cynicism about law enforcement.

These examples may seem relatively unimportant, and they are, and  if someone posts a flier  on a telephone poll , I don’t care.  In fact I liked that old fashioned way of communicating here in town.   But if the ordinance is ignored for some, but not others  (as with the tacky pinkification of our telephone polls for an entire month,) then the system of equal justice under the law has broken down.   And, by the way, the phrase “equal justice under the law” is etched into the stone above the front doors of the Supreme Court.

If we can’t have equal justice in enforcing small ordinances, then those laws should be removed.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

ELVIS COSTELLO     “Let’s Misbehave”

“We’re all alone, no chaperone
Can get our number
The world’s in slumber–let’s misbehave!”

 

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Fletcher Lake in Ocean Grove.  Part of the “community?” Click to enlarge and see what’s at stake when Ocean Grove policy is commandeered by the CMA and the Township. How about the citizens?    Paul Goldfinger photo.  ©

The quote below is from Rev. John DiGiamberardino’s statement to the Neptune Township Committee at their regular meeting on Monday, August 14, 2017, in the Municipal Building. He is the COO of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.:

“The OGCMA, founder of the community, has existed for 148 years as the leading organization and tax payer in Ocean Grove seeking the good of the community, residents, and visitors.”

The context of his statement was to object vigorously against the idea of permit parking for OG citizens and to threaten a law suit if the CMA’s demands are not met.    We already posted much of what he said  and commented on much of his message.  (link below:)

CMA threatens law suit over parking

But if you read the quote above carefully, you will see that we need to clarify some of his words and definitions. Words have meaning, and I assume that the Reverend wants us to understand his meaning.  So we will try to deconstruct his sentence.

a.  “The OGCMA, founder of the community…..”    What does “community” mean?  He refers to the “community” as being separate from “residents” when he says that “OGCMA seeks the good of the community, residents and visitors,”  so “community” evidently refers to something other than the citizens who live here.

He introduces the OGCMA as the “founder of the community” as if that has some special significance in terms of governance  in this town.  When the State Supreme Court turned governance of Ocean Grove over to Neptune in 1980, that left the CMA as being just another group or entity in OG with no legal special influence in the decisions of the Neptune government, such as what to do about parking

b. ” The leading organization..” Does this mean the most important organization in town?  Does he claim special entitlement because of being “the leading organization?”

c. “The leading taxpayer” seems to refer to the OG entity which  pays the most tax money to Neptune Township. Does he mention this because those who pay the most taxes deserve the most attention or the most influence?     We have residents in this town who pay no property taxes.  Do they have no influence?

d. “148 years”  Does he mention this because he wants to teach us some history or does it mean that the oldest organization in town deserves some special consideration?    Otherwise, why do we need that number?

e.  ” The CMA is seeking the good of the community, residents, and visitors.”  In order to understand this claim,  we need to know the definition of “good.”  It seems to be condescending for the CMA to know what “good” we residents need, and then to demand public policy based on that unique knowledge.

My guess is that the CMA thinks that it has some special advantage over the rest of us that entitles it to apply its  unique influence in getting the Township to make decisions in its favor, such as re-zoning the North End and refusing to consider a permit parking plan.

The CMA threatens a lawsuit over this.  If they think that they are  more important than any other constituency in town, and if the Township agrees with that, then that seems like a potential Constitutional violation  if laws are passed in their favor.  (“Equal justice under the law.”)

Are we wrong?  Are we totally misconstruing what Rev. John said in that statement?   What do you think this means?

 

Written August 18, 2017,  by Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

 

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

The meeting hadn’t yet begun, but the Township Committee attendees were greeted outside the Municipal Building by a group of demonstrators with signs complaining about plans to build a bulk-head at the Shark River. Blogfinger has little interest in the subject, but we are impressed that,  for the first time which we are aware, citizen-pickets protested outside.

We need more of that sort of activism when Ocean Grove has demands, and we often do.

Last night the OG Home Groaners planned to pressure the Committee into seriously looking into resident permit parking. They expected citizens to show up and loudly complain (at the microphone) that we need permits.  Even the political arm of Ocean Grove United tried to push the issue on behalf of their allies, the HOA, with a mass email  containing Joyce Klein’s  (HOA Parking Committee Chair) plea to show up.

But since the Home Groaners never publicly revealed their permit plan, how is the public supposed to make up its mind on this controversial issue?  Is this one of those “vote for it first and then find out what’s in it” moments?

As it turns out, an estimated 15 people spoke up, but about half were opposed and the other half were in favor; a somewhat similar result to our BF poll. Since those in favor had no idea what exactly they were in favor of, they basically asked the Committee to “do something.”  And those who were  opposed had no idea exactly what they were opposed to. They basically said “It won’t work.”

And the Committee seemed to cling to its  OG parking strategy which is to squirm in their seats while making believe they care.  This topic offers a no-win situation for them, and they have no courage to address it.   They want it to go away.

And the Home Groaners Ass. once again comes up empty regarding an issue that OG residents do care about.

Two interesting Grovers went to the microphone.  The first was Ted Bell, OG historian and HSOG member.  He said that he was in favor of a permit plan.

The other well known guest was Rev. John DiGiamberardino, COO of the Camp Meeting Association.  He read a prepared statement opposing a permit plan on the grounds that it would not coincide with the group’s “Mission Statement.”    The last time we heard that was when the citizens were rejected for a dog park in the Grove.

He did not hand out copies of his statement.  We will try to get one, since the OGHOA is very influential in town and in their dealings with the Committee.  Also, this must be important to the CMA, because they almost never go public with their views; except when Rev. John sent out a statement in the recent past on ground rents.

But, hang onto your hats, because this was a very long meeting and there was more trash talk to keep the Committee on the edge of their podium seats.

Here’s a song dedicated to the Township Committee from their buddies the OGHOA:

MARILYN MONROE

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What can be done to stop the spending excesses of the Neptune School System? Blogfinger photo. ©

TO THE EDITOR:

Due to the extremely high property taxes levied on Ocean Grove, some desperate residents have turned to renting out their homes and some are planning to move out of town and even out of state.

The school tax plays a big part in Ocean Grove’s dilemma, being the majority of the tax bill. But the paradox is that an extremely small percentage of residents sent their children to Neptune Township Schools and many residents  do not even reside in Ocean Grove during the winter months.

The school tax should be based on the number of students from Ocean Grove and not grouped in with the numberof students from Neptune Township.  We have the power to stop this!

From:   FAIR IS FAIR, OCEAN GROVE, August 10, 2017

The writer is a resident of OG, but we do not know his/her name.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  During a radio interview on July 28, Gov Christie said that “NJ residents deserve blame on property taxes, too.”

Regarding school taxes:     “All we want to do is complain about it,” Christie said of school taxes, the largest segment of property tax bills, “but if I go to somebody’s town and say, hell, your property taxes are like this because look at how much your school taxes are … we are going to take the steps that are necessary to do that.”

Christie said the response at that point is typically, ” ‘No, no, no! Not in my town!’ ‘

www.app.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2017/07/28/chris-christie-says-nj-residents-deserve-blame-property-taxes-too/519600001/

“The Money Song” from the off-Broadway show Avenue Q    (We couldn’t find a song called “Charity Begins at Home.”)

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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 Whitfield Hotel in 2015.  The front of the lot  is on Surf Avenue facing north  (60.5 feet wide).   The back is on Bath Avenue, facing south  (60.5 feet).  The side is 103 feet long on Beach Avenue facing the ocean. This property, #20 Surf Avenue in OG, is zoned for one lot  (Block 113, Lot 10.)

4 foundations on one lot, seen here from Surf Avenue,  are not permitted.   Photo by Stephen Goldfinger on 3/18/17. Blogfinger staff.©

 

This is a view taken from Beach Avenue showing the separation between foundations. . By Stephen Goldfinger 3/19/17 ©

This is the second installment of “The Case of the Notorious Whitfield Hotel.”

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger and Jack Bredin, Researcher @Blogfinger

Not only are there now 4 foundations on that one lot site, but those lots would have to be undersized.  30 x 60 is the minimum lot size requirement for Ocean Grove.   The size of the rectangular Whitfield site is 103 feet long, and four regulation lots would need a minimum of 120 feet along each side. But the Whitfield lots would have to fit into 103 feet, and they are, by definition, undersized.

Everyone we have spoken to, including Township officials, residents who live near the Whitfield, and concerned Grovers tell us that the Whitfield site will become 4 detached single family homes, and almost everyone seems delighted. But should they be?

The excavation has begun, and we now know that there are  four foundations.  And a source tell us  that the developer has been officially “approved” for placing 4 homes at that site. But who allowed work to begin without a 4 lot subdivision being blessed by the Neptune Township Planning Board?

We asked around  and learned, mostly from people in the know, that  Bernard Haney, the long-standing Tax Assessor in Neptune Township, who also wears a second hat, that of Land Use Administrator, was responsible for that decision.

Bernard Haney, Neptune Twp.Tax Assessor and Land Use Administrator. Blogfinger photo  c.2015. Neptune Twp Municipal Bldg. ©

Here is how the procedure should work. First the developer orders a survey map of the property. The survey map shows the exact size of the lot, and the map is used to prepare a site plan/subdivision.

This is a plan which shows where the buildings will be “sited” on the subdivided property pursuant to the zoning and the subdivision ordinance. The site plan is part of an application for development and is to be filed with the Township Building Department.

The site plan is then prepared and signed by a licensed professional who in this case would clearly show on the cover page that the applicant wants to subdivide the property into 4 undersized (nonconforming) lots.

However, the problem is that there is no type of variance or procedure that would permit a conforming lot to be subdivided into any nonconforming lots.

The application should have been referred to the Planning Board for a public hearing, but that referral was never made.   We checked with the Planning Board secretary who verified that she was not instructed to schedule a hearing on the Planning Board agenda.

Approved subdivisions are recorded on the tax map under the supervision of the Township Engineer. As such, the Township Engineer should have been asked to review the plan and prepare a written report for the Planning Board. The Neptune Engineer said she received no such request.

We learned that after the subdivision approval,  the  approved plan was sent to the Building Department to issue permits for the 4 single family houses, or, at least, for the foundation work which is now in progress.

It appears that the current 2014 tax map, which clearly shows one existing lot at the Whitfield site, not four, was ignored. That lot would ordinarily require a subdivision if more than one single family house is proposed.

We were told that Mr. Haney decided that after the demolition, the current empty lot would automatically revert to an 1879 tax map which showed 4 lots and to declare that the 2017 post demolition lot was already subdivided into 4 lots.

This maneuver by the Township appears to be a technique to allow 4 single family houses to be built on a lot where only 3 can be permitted.

Even if this method of circumventing the usual approach to subdivisions turns out to be acceptable, the application  still should have been referred  to the Planning Board.

Do you suppose that this is a well traveled highway in Ocean Grove?  Have we now lost that loving feeling in our town, or did it disappear a long time ago?

ELVIS:

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Township Committee

Township Committee

Quotes from Township Committee minutes are  below.   Reading minutes is much more fun than sitting through those meetings. 

Jan 9 minutes:

Ken Buckley (HOA  Trustee) stated that he trusts that summonses will be issued to people parking in the snow emergency zones and for failure to clear snow from sidewalks.

Jan 23 minutes:

Ms. Rizzo stated that the  (Parking) Task Force did a great job and came up with good recommendations. She indicated that she is favor of moving forward with angled parking on the north side of Main Avenue between New Jersey and Lawrence Avenues and on the west side of Central Avenue between Webb and Main Avenues.

Mr. Williams also noted that a Sub-Committee of Task Force members was created to examine parking permits. It was noted that parking permits would not increase the number of parking spots or decrease the number of cars. Concerns were raised about permit parking proposals such as increased demand for non-permit spaces, impact for families with multiple vehicles, fairness to hotels and bed-breakfast establishments, and cost of the start-up and enforcement of about $90,000.

Mayor Brantley thanked the parking task force. He felt they did a tremendous job and it has improved the situation.

Feb. 13 minutes:

Ken Buckley (HOA big shot)  stated that the shoveling of sidewalks in the recent snowstorm was good and issuing summonses really works.

Jack Bredin, 94 1⁄2 Heck Avenue, stated the name of Wesley Lake on the tax map was changed from Wesley Lake to Wesley/Retention Basin. He went to a Wesley Lake Commission meeting and they stated they really had no input into that name change. Asbury Park assured him that they had no part in the name change. He asked at a Township meeting how did it get changed and Mr. Bishop stated they were told to change it but he did not mention by whom. He stated he believed that Mr. Bishop thought to himself that somethings were left better off not said.

Editor’s Notes:

–Isn’t it great that the OGHOA was pleased with itself after pushing for fines to punish those who didn’t shovel?  Ken Buckley should get a medal for that one.   What’s next—-bad parking techniques, raking leaves the wrong way?

The Committee was pleased that they are going to squeeze more cars into town using more diagonal parking without addressing the more fundamental problem of too many cars.  The HOA Parking Committee also loved the idea.

And how hard did the HOA  push to get we taxpayers stickers to reduce our parking concerns?

—-Why isn’t the HOA pushing the Township to deal with land use violations that guarantee more and more cars and crowding in town?

—And why didn’t the HOA find out why Committeeman Brantley was showing developers around the North End site last year.  Why was this activity part of his job as an elected representative of we the people?

—And why isn’t the HOA trying to find out why Wesley Lake has undergone a worrisome name change?  Well don’t expect the HOA to get involved in Wesley Lake’s problems. Here is an item from their November 2016 minutes regarding items to discuss for 2017:  “Westley Lake pollution”   If you can’t spell it, you’re not likely to be helpful.

As we can see from the minutes, no one in the big chairs on the podium will tell the truth about the Wesley Lake name change.  Why are all our committeemen willing to accept an answer of “we don’t know” or “we can’t say?”

—-And  what has happened to the HPC guidelines?  The HPC made an initial fuss over what they saw as a threat to the town’s future and then they clammed up and joined the other opaque silent groups in town. Did somebody from the shadow government threaten them?    Meanwhile the HOA Nov. minutes say, “It appears as if the goal of the township is to limit the power of the HPC to reduce cost to home owners.”  So why don’t we hear from the HOA on this matter?   Why is the HOA perpetually busy going against the taxpayers of Ocean Grove?

—-And Carol Rizzo, the only  Committeeman from Ocean Grove, seems to have jumped on the big boys bandwagon up on the podium. She seems reluctant to step out of the box and tackle some of the worrisome issues for OG such as violations of land use laws and investigating the secretive North End situation with a questioning eye.  She seems to be sticking with safe zones such as parking.  We would welcome hearing from her as to her activity vis a vis Ocean Grove.  Maybe she can lead the charge for  better fire safety in the Grove.

—And what does the Committee think about drug rehab facilities in town?  They don’t seem to want to be daring and proactive when a potent issue like this shows up. This subject may reactivate this year, especially if funding for such facilities is retained at the federal level.

MARY McCARTY   from Chicago  (Of course, this song would apply to all members of the Committee–just change mama to poppa as needed.)

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