Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove Home Owners Association’ Category

A look to the future. Paul Goldfinger ©

A look to the future. Paul Goldfinger ©

There are a lot of moving parts to Ocean Grove’s parking problems.

I believe the number one problem starts with the Neptune Township Committee.

The process of site-plan approval is guided by both the local zoning ordinance and the State off- street parking requirements.

When local standards are inconsistent with State Standards, then the State Standards supersede the local ones.

The local Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment can grant a variance from the zoning ordinance, but there is no approving authority in the Township that can grant a “waiver” from the off-street parking requirements until the Township applies for and the State grants approval of a “Special Standard.”

However, when the Township is reviewing a site plan application for Ocean Grove, it is the Township’s policy to usurp State Authority and circumvent the State’s off-street parking requirements (that the State has exclusive authority over) and grant an approval with no off-street parking.

As a result of this practice, with few exceptions, all site-plan approvals in Ocean Grove over the past 18 ears, were granted in violation of State law.

Kevin Chambers has been telling us that for years, and it is not just his opinion—-it is a fact!

When developing a standard 50×100 foot lot, the State off-street parking standard, requiring two (2) off-street parking spaces for a detached single family house, is reasonable because the State standard was designed using the 50’x100’ lot format.

Ocean Grove cannot be re-subdivided into 50 x 100 foot lots, and so the strict application of the State off-street parking regulations would cause practical difficulties in developing any 30 x 60 foot lot in the Historic District.

Because the 30 x 60 foot lot size is 2 ½ times smaller than a 50 x 100 foot lot, there is simply not enough room to include off-street parking into a site-plan without destroying Ocean Grove’s historic character.

We are the only town in New Jersey like this, and so we qualify for a State waiver for detached single-family houses with no parking.

Last year the Township filed an application for an exception from the State off-street parking standards.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that Ocean Grove is zoned single-family, and the waiver the Township requested is not only for detached single family houses, it is for all new residential multi-family development, foreseeing variance approvals for condominiums.

If approved it would open the floodgates to condo development; that would destroy the Historic District.

The threat to our historic designation comes from an increasing real estate demand for a “condo by the ocean, for vacation.”

Make no mistake about it.   The primary reason for the Township’s application was to permit condo development throughout Ocean Grove, and not just for the big guy, but also for the little guy.

As an example: If you own a two family house like I do, you can form a condominium association and, like magic, your two family house becomes two (2) attached single-family houses (aka condominiums) which are worth a lot more money than your former 2-family house. That also applies to 3,4,5 family and up. The only problem for this agenda is that you now need two (2) off-street parking spaces per unit, and the Township cannot grant you a waiver or a variance.

Although the Township had reasons for a single-family waiver, they had no reason to ask for a multi-family waiver.   And so, at the Township’s request, the Town Planner manufactured the reasons, after doing a parking study of Ocean Grove.

In support of a multi-family waiver the planner determined: We have plenty of available parking spaces, and the residents also have the option of parking in Asbury Park or Bradley Beach and then walking home.

This is nonsense, and if it were such a great benefit to Ocean Grove, then why did the Town Planner call the State Advisory Board last December and request that the application be withdrawn?

The Committee has been silent on why, or who instructed the Planner to withdraw the application, and has given no indication if or when they will reapply.

But they must reapply. They can’t keep breaking the law. And when they do reapply, we should insist that we still need that parking exemption for SINGLE FAMILY HOUSES ONLY, and not for multifamily buildings that are inconsistent with the Master Plan and with Historic Preservation.

I am offering a motion for your consideration that the OGHOA would support the single family application. The HOA should be pro-active and get ahead of the curve.

The motion is: “The OGHOA is in favor of the Neptune Township Committee re-filing an application for a waiver from the State RSIS parking standard for detached single-family houses only.”


Editor’s note:   Jack Bredin’s motion was seconded, but the group voted to table the motion.  —-PG

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Vote for a future condo- free Ocean Grove. Ocean Pathway. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Vote for a future that would stop more multi-family buildings (such as condos) without parking in  Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger © Click to see those beautiful Ocean Pathway single family houses. 2014.

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

As you all know, the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association Board sent a formal letter to the  Site Improvement Advisory Board (SIAB) in Trenton supporting the Township’s application for a special parking standard (RSIS) exemption.  When the members found out, many complained that this important policy decision was made without the approval of the membership.  It is an abuse of power.   In yesterday’s Coaster, an OGHOA member demanded that a vote be held to find out what policy the membership would support.

On Blogfinger we have made a strong argument that the OGHOA/Township Committee policy supporting the elimination of RSIS standards for all housing in Ocean Grove will result in an open door for more condominiums, apartments and big buildings of all sorts.

We have argued that the OG Master Plan, dating back to the early 1980’s, resulted in resolutions adopted by the Planning Board and the Township Committee that supported  single family zoning throughout the town, and that approach has recently been arbitrarily discarded by the Governing Body in favor of more multifamily buildings  without parking provided, which cause increased congestion and parking problem in town.

Despite requests from some members, the OGHOA board has failed to seek a policy vote regarding these issues. Instead they continue patronizing and disrespecting the membership by representing their opinions as being those of the group.

On Feb 25, they will have a “discussion” on this topic, but it will be a propaganda jam session with the HOA leaders defending their pro-condominium policies including their unauthorized letter to the SIAB. That “discussion” should be held and then that meeting should be turned into a referendum by virtue of a motion to establish a policy chosen by the members. Hopefully the members will choose to protect Ocean Grove’s historic heritage, its lifestyle, and the interests of those of us who actually live here.

That motion should be to support the retention of RSIS standards for most of the town, with the exception of single family houses.

How this Blogfinger position would work is explained in our post below.   (scroll down to the girl on the cannon or use link  https://blogfinger.net/2016/01/21/ocean-grove-homeowners-board-defies-facts-loyalty-and-the-best-interests-of-our-town-in-standing-shoulder-to-shoulder-with-the-neptune-committee-in-praising-the-rsis-application-for-a-special-area-pa/

We don’t know if the Township will re-apply for the exemption, but whether they do or not, the OGHOA should have a policy that the membership supports.

And once the members make a decision, then the voting result should be presented to the Township Committee for appropriate action including hopefully returning the whole town to single family home zoning

Finally, we support the idea that a special meeting should be called for the vote sometime in the next 2 weeks. This issue, among others, will determine the future of Ocean Grove.

 KATHY BRIER   with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks . “There’ll Be Some Changes Made”  from Boardwalk Empire


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This is Tilly, the poster boy for fun in Asbury Park. But who will be responsible for funny business on the OG side??

This is Tilly, the poster boy for funny business in Asbury Park. But who will be responsible for funny business on the OG side of the divide ??

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

On October 14, 2012, Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn commented on Blogfinger regarding a question raised by a Grover about the North End Redevelopment Plan. That Grover asked, “Who are the principals in the WAVE developers organization besides Mr. Gannon?”  WAVE is the co-redeveloper for NERP along with the OG Camp Meeting Association.

Mary Beth Jahn responded on Blogfinger  with this answer: “This is not the answer you want, but there is no legal requirement for the principals of the LLC to be disclosed. It is up to the owner and developer to decide whether to disclose this information as an act of good faith toward the community. The principals of the LLC are not listed in the organization papers in Trenton.

“The Township Committee could require this information to be disclosed to us as a condition of the agreement if we feel it is relevant, particularly if we feel it relates to ensuring whether the developer has the financial means to construct and complete the project on time and on budget, but they also have the right to request that the list of principals be kept confidential.”

Ms. Jahn also had plenty more to say about NERP and she promised to stop that project. More about her later, because she currently is the Mayor—the most powerful (theoretically) among the five person Neptune Twp. Committee.

And, you should recall, that Ms. Jahn was named to be one of the two Committee members on the NERP negotiating team, along with Mayor (at that time) Randy Bishop. Technically she still is a member of that team, but she did not attend a recent important meeting involving the Township and WAVE.

So, with that background, let’s consider what happened two days ago at the Committee meeting of June 22, 2015.   An Ocean Grover, Jack Bredin, waited patiently for the three hour discussion about Shark River dredging sludge to conclude.   Then he went to the microphone for his 5 minute opportunity to speak to the Committee. You might recall that the last time he went to the microphone, he was forcibly ejected by the Mayor for exercising his free speech rights.

This time he asked Mayor Jahn, “Are you still a member of the negotiating committee for NERP?”

She said “Yes.”

Then he asked, “Who are the members of WAVE?”

The Mayor did not answer him, but someone from the OGHOA said, (out of order) “We know because we put in an OPRA request.”   But the OGHOA member did not divulge that information, nor did the Mayor.

Then Jack asked, “Do we have an official map of the town?” He asked that because an official map would be essential to make changes to the NERP, and the Township tax map would not do.  A Committee member then turned to Gene Anthony, the Twp. Attorney, and asked him to look into the map question.

In the end, Jack had to sit down without having two of his three questions answered by the Mayor.

The reason that the Mayor should tell the public about the WAVE principles is that NERP is a public project under the watch of the Committee. Shouldn’t the Committee know whom they are doing business with?   Shouldn’t the public know that? Are there any conflicts of interest going on? Did WAVE post the 10% good faith deposit required in deals like this and did WAVE disclose its finances to prove that it could handle the NERP?

And there are more questions about WAVE: We know that WAVE was chosen by the Camp Meeting Association, but did the Township Committee vette WAVE back in 2007 after the Planning Board approved the “Area in need of re-development” designation?  The Committee should have done so.   Has WAVE ever developed anything?

In addition, you should know that the Planning Board approved this special designation on the grounds that the CMA was incapable of improving the property itself.   And then, a mere two years later, the CMA was named as co-redeveloper for NERP. How did they get so capable so fast? And if they are now capable, why doesn’t the Committee rescind the special designation and toss the ball back to the CMA along with all those questionable zoning changes?

So we ask: Is there any funny business going on? Are there shenanigans? Is there sufficient transparency?  Why won’t the Mayor answer questions put to her by a citizen? Will she attend NERP meetings in the future?

Why is there only one Committeeman attending the NERP discussions?   And where is the Redevelopers Agreement that was promised 7 years ago and then recently by Randy Bishop?

Some more loose ends:

There is a rumor that the NERP, which was recently changed to the NEW NERP, might be changed again to a NEW NEW NERP,  eliminating the hotel and putting in more condo’s. We believe these recent changes to be illegal.

More Duck News: Is the Mayor ducking her responsibility to protect Ocean Grove from questionable development at the North End? After all, the Mayor is supposed to be looking out for the folks.  What happened to her opposition to the NERP  expressed strongly in 2012?  And, as a wise old duck once said, “If it quacks like  a duck, it is a duck!”

Does the Committee want to do the right thing? If so, they should go back and correct all the mistakes that have been made in the process of creating the NERP.

Why has the OG Home Groaners Association failed to share information that they have about WAVE with the public?  Why are they covering up important information?  Why didn’t they share that information with Jack Bredin at the meeting ?

The OGHOA web site reports on their North End Committee’s work.  The most recent minutes say, regarding their  committee chairwoman:” For the CMA to be released as developer, and for WAVE to become the primary developer (with Neptune Township as the new co-developer), WAVE must release both its financial statement and identify its principals. At the most recent May 21st township meeting she asked if WAVE had provided that necessary information and she was told they had not, and no one had knowledge of when such information would be provided.”

These OGHOA minutes do not mention the WAVE information claimed above.

Do you believe that the Township  Committee does not know who WAVE is? They act like they don’t, but is it possible, after all these years, that they still don’t know?  And, if they do know, then why don’t they share the information with the public?

ZERO MOSTEL:  From “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”

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Condolandia  at the OG North End  (As seen from Surf Ave.)  Blogfinger photo. March, 2015.

Condolandia at the OG North End (As seen from Surf Ave.) Blogfinger photo. March, 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger

For years the North End of Ocean Grove remained undeveloped by the OG Camp Meeting Association, the owners of the property. The land there was zoned for single family homes, and that seemed to be appropriate considering the Master Plan’s sympathetic attitude regarding the historic district.

In 2007, the Neptune Township Planning Board agreed that the Township should establish a “zone in need of redevelopment” at the North End, but they did not argue for a change in zoning.  The Township then ordered a redevelopment plan to be drawn up.

It was the Township Committee which decided that the existing zoning should be changed to accommodate the new North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP) which would permit multiple uses for those 5+ acres including condominiums, single family homes, a hotel, commercial components and an underground parking garage.

Overriding the existing single family zoning was allowed under state law* when a “zone in need of redevelopment” has been declared. The goal of such zones is to bring back portions of New Jersey cities and towns which were considered to be so blighted that only government could restore those areas for the good of the city/town.

What did the Neptune Township Planning Board find that would justify the new designation? If you read the NERP plan, you will see a tortuous explanation to justify the new zone as something good for the town, with advantages outweighing disadvantages.

Whatever the rationalizations were, they led to a plan (NERP) that was turned into Neptune law in 2008 and which was supported by the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association, the Historic Preservation Commission and the Camp Meeting Association.

Once that happened, it was supposed to set in motion a sequence of events beginning with the formal choice of a redeveloper by the governing body (Neptune Committee.) That redeveloper was to sign a contract which detailed his obligations. We don’t know if such a contract actually exists.

We know that the redevelopers were chosen, not by the Township, but by the CMA who owns the property. The redevelopers who were named in 2008 consisted of the CMA itself and a group called “WAVE.” The Gannon company has been revealed as part of WAVE, but no other names have been disclosed.

We plan to post a series of articles on how this plan evolved, and the next one will be a review of what happened when the Township approved the redevelopers at a Committee meeting in June, 2008.

Our purpose is to inform the citizens of Ocean Grove as to what happened to bring us to 2015 and to figure out exactly where we stand now.

And then maybe some way can be found to block the commercialization of the North End.

We will also take a look at the Master Plan to see how it compares to the NERP.

By way of introduction, here is a quote from the Neptune Township Master Plan of 2011 regarding Ocean Grove–the “historic district:”

Goal: “To preserve the historic character, livability and property values of historic structures and neighborhoods by maintaining and rehabilitating historic housing, preventing the deterioration and demolition of historic structures, and encouraging new construction that is compatible in scale and design to the physical character of the surrounding neighborhood.”

*   HillWallak.com notes on NJ redevelopment law:     “As part of the plan, the municipality has the power to enact a redevelopment ordinance which can override the existing zoning for the area.”

KATHY BRIER.   This song is dedicated to the OG Home Groaners Association that wanted the NERP in 2008, and now they say otherwise. What a shame they didn’t have the courage to oppose this plan when they had a chance to mobilize the citizens of OG and stand strong.

From Boardwalk Empire, HBO hit series.  Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks won a Grammy for the soundtrack.


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Ocean Grove Woman's Club   2014.  Blogfinger file photo ©

Ocean Grove Woman’s Club 2014. Blogfinger file photo ©


August 12, 2014.

A 2014 primer provided by the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association for anyone who missed the July meeting of the HOA or who would like a refresher.

Here are the steps in the 2014 revaluation process:

1.   An inspector from Realty Appraisal will visit your home to do a visual inspection.  All inspectors are required to carry a photo ID.  Generally, the inspector will measure the outside dimensions of the home, and count the number of bathrooms.  The inspector may also ask whether you have renovated or added to your home since the date you acquired it.

2.   In November, letters will go out to each homeowner with a preliminary valuation of the home.  Homeowners who believe that the preliminary valuation is inaccurate may call Realty Appraisal to set up an appointment to discuss the valuation.

3.   Realty Appraisal’s notes of each meeting with a homeowner will be delivered to the Neptune Township Tax Assessor, who will make a final determination of valuation.

4.   A second letter, with a final valuation, will be then sent to homeowners.

5.   In approximately the last two weeks of December, every homeowner will receive a postcard confirming the assessed valuation of his or her home for 2015.

6.   Homeowners who wish to appeal their assessments have until January 2015 to file an appeal with the Monmouth County Board of Taxation.

Note that each communication (letters and post card) will contain information about how to proceed to the next step in the process.  If you have questions, you should contact the Tax Assessor’s Office at (732) 988-5200, x 248.



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Here are some of the people that the HOA needs to talk to about derelict houses. Blogfinger photo ©

Here are some of the people that the HGA needs to talk to about derelict houses. Blogfinger photo ©

  Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Instead of striving for some real action on the subject of derelict houses, the OG Home Groaners Association has scheduled another house tour.   The first one attracted thirty people.   The promo for that event says that you should go “for a bit of history.”  No history lesson will solve this problem.

The OGHA is potentially the most powerful group in town, but instead of strength and results, they are weak and ineffective on this issue.  Neptune Township needs new laws to help them penetrate the outrageous stalemate regarding those monstrous fire hazards called “derelict houses.”  In fact, there are towns all over the country faced with similar problems. How about some research into what they are doing?

Home Groaners: Why don’t you stop the mumbling and the walking tours, hire some buses, get a few hundred people together, and picket our elected representatives and the governor in Trenton to do something to give us better tools to solve this dilemma.


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Blogfinger file photo

Blogfinger file photo

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger   Monday, April 28, 2014.     In an extraordinary act of reverse diplomacy, Pres. Anne Horan of the OG Home Owners Association, went to the microphone at the Neptune Township Committee meeting for her 5 minutes of fame, only to insult the Committee by saying that they are not doing enough for the derelict housing problem in the Grove. She said that she was “stunned” that the Committee would suggest that residents participate in the process of finding solutions and that the Committee had failed to deal effectively with wrecks like 80 Main Ave.

Horan was reacting to an earlier suggestion from the dais that neighbors should write letters of complaint to owners of derelict houses. Committeeman Eric Houghtaling was uncharacteristically angry as he protested her assertions, and Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn practically jumped out of her seat as she raised her voice to say that the Committee had accomplished more in the last eight years than in the twenty prior to that when it comes to the problem of derelict houses. She said that they have been working tirelessly to solve this issue including using demolition by neglect, court cases, and over $100,000 to “chase those owners.” “There’s a process that must be followed,” she said, “but that process takes a long time.” Jahn accused the HOA of attacking the Committee. “We’re not dong enough?” she asked. “This is the wrong tack for the HOA to use against us.”

The Committeewoman complained that the OG Home Owners Association had treated members of the Committee (Bishop and Houghtaling) disrespectfully when they appeared last Saturday at the HOA meeting, and that she was angry about that. She said that the process is more difficult because the owners don’t want to do the needed work on their properties and that they would prefer to have their buildings demolished. She admitted that the process hasn’t worked, and she thought that the Camp Meeting might be helpful in participating in the effort to save the historic buildings. Mayor Brantley said, “We are frustrated and we will keep trying to do something.”

Horan was not the only speaker to question the progress being made at town hall. HOA Trustees Ken Buckley and Joan Venezia also had some criticisms of their own to make at the microphone. Venezia wanted the Committee to move faster in implementing a process called “certified local government,” and Buckley waved a copy of a legal paper from Rutgers, suggesting that the Committee do more homework. Kathy Arlt, of Ocean Grove, was upset that 80 Main Ave. continues to fall apart while nothing is done.   She also mentioned violations at 103 Franklin Ave while complaining that the Township has done practically nothing in using liens to deal with the problem. She claimed that the Township had done more in this regard out in Neptune proper.

Sometimes the best is left for the end—-this was a three hour public meeting with a fair share of fireworks. An angry citizen came to the microphone and said, “You are buying in my name and sticking me with the interest.”

Michael Bascom, the Township’s Chief Financial Officer, replied to her by giving a brilliant, off-the-cuff summary of how government works to avoid overspending and over borrowing. She walked out before he finished, but his statement should be printed and made public . If they send it to me, I will post it on Blogfinger.

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OGHOA logo

Candidates meeting of the OGHOA on October 27, 2012.  PG photo

Candidates meeting of the OGHOA on October 27, 2012. PG photo

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor

In a recent letter, President Ann Horan of the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association encouraged nonmembers to join.  She pointed out  that the group has become very active in a number of important areas including derelict housing, emergency management, North End redevelopment and Sandy recovery.  The dues are only $10.00 per year. You can go to the web site for more information:  OGHOA web link

The OGHOA has been  revitalized by a number of new officers and members.  Pres. Horan and her activist team have formed committees to stay on top of important issues.  The organization has begun  to flex its muscles in town, such as their submission of a North End proposal as seen through the eyes of homeowners.  The OGHOA has potential clout by virtue of its large membership.  It has been difficult to get the exact numbers, but each home gets one vote, even though there may be more than one member in a home.  A conservative estimate is that they have over 500 members at this time.  The exact count is unclear because they  sometimes count the members who are not up-to-date on dues.

But regardless of the precise count, they could have even more influence if they were to  increase the membership.  Ideally every homeowner should belong to this advocacy group, and that could mean a membership of well over 1,000. Don’t forget how powerful they were in the ’80’s and ’90’s when they had their largest historic membership and when their political reach extended to Trenton.  You can read about that era in the Blogfinger timeline. *

The HOA meets on the 4th Saturday of each month in the Community Room.  They get about 60 Grovers at their meetings which are open to the public, but they will have to  change the venue if they want to get better attendance.  At the meetings, the policy has been to have a  guest speaker go on first,  leaving the business for the end.  It is the business component that tends to produce discussion about issues that concern the members, and sometimes people walk out just as those  debates begin.  Maybe they should skip the opening act and get on to the main course, or just reverse the order.

The HOA has a new web site which is still a work in progress in terms of content.   The President’s report, which was recently issued, is still not posted on their site. Because the members who come to meetings are relatively few, the group needs to work harder at disseminating their information including the workings of their board , which used to behave like a secret society.   There is an email list which you can join at their web site.

It seems clear that we are going to hear a great deal of constructive outrage and productive ideas coming out of the “new and improved” OGHOA v. 2.0.  That is good news for the Grove.

* NOTE: This excerpt from the BF Historic Timeline focuses on the part of our history where the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association, on steroids, made things happen to save the town of Ocean Grove:    timeline link

“By the 1980’s, the town is characterized by an overall “decrepitude,” including deterioration of buildings, declining tourism, crime, and a growing poor elderly population. (2)  Deinstitutionalized mental patients are housed in empty old hotels and rooming houses in Ocean Grove. The town becomes a “psychiatric ghetto” (NY Times, October 1988), and, by the 1980’s, 10% of the town’s population are mental cases who are not receiving appropriate services and are sometimes abused by landlords. The prognosis for Ocean Grove is dire.

“During this period, the Ocean Grove Homeowner’s Association (OGHOA) develops as a political and activist force that successfully begins the process of converting the town from decay to renaissance. (2f)

“1990’s:  OGHOA, led by Mr. Herb Herbst, Fran Paladino and others, fight for fair treatment in the allotment of the mentally ill around the state. The process is complex and difficult, but the numbers of “deinstitutionalized” in OG drops considerably.  The group also saw to the closing of many substandard boarding and rooming houses. The HOA presents Neptune with a “master plan” to protect the historic nature of OG and to rezone for the promotion of single family houses. OGHOA promotes secular tourism while working with CMA to increase religious tourism.  New people come into town to buy homes and invest in businesses.”


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