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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove issues’ Category

Can Ocean Grove retain its own unique historical perspective?  This musician is warming up for the OG Summer Band weekly concert on the boardwalk. 2009 Paul Goldfinger photo ©

By Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor @Blogfinger.net

In a recent Blogfinger opinion piece, we said, “Will we be left in the dustbin of history as a place with stifling crowding, insoluble  parking concerns, a has-been Victorian success story,  condos all over town,  a pseudo-Asbury  at the North End, self-interested ‘community’ organizations, wealthy  2nd homers instead of year-round residents, and a town devoid of community—– known for no art, culture, schools, or values of its own?”

“All that will be left to focus on will be the Camp Meeting Association with its specific mission and lifestyle—worthy as part of the community, but less impressive all by itself.”

And will Ocean Grove become a place with no life to it in the winter and few downtown shops that cater to the residents?

Is it possible that the original 1970’s vision of a historic town, as expressed in the Master Plan, will eventually evaporate leaving just another shore town with rising real estate prices, elitist demographics,  outrageous taxes, and fancy seasonal shops in our downtown?

An article in yesterday’s New York Times addresses some of these changes which are turning down-home, family oriented communities such as Avalon, at the South Jersey Shore, into something else, mostly for the wealthy.   Families with modest incomes, some of which have been there for generations are being forced out, and with them go memories, traditions, and a nostalgic atmosphere that that will be lost as the town’s character changes.  The author says that some towns at the north Jersey Shore, such as Mantoloking, are also changing.

You can read that article, linked below.   But each Shore town is different.  In OG we have some unusual variations on the theme, such as the role of the CMA  and the aggressiveness of developers pushing condo conversions,  as well as some home buyers who are promoting tourist rentals.

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

The second-home phenomenon is very real in Ocean Grove and is a strong driving force towards change.  Neptune Township cares little about historic OG.   Their actions make it clear what their goals for the town are, and we have written about those issues including illegal zoning and parking decisions, the pollution of Wesley Lake, and taxes which are too high  (the “cash cow” effect–you can almost hear the sucking sound of our money heading west.)

 

3 new homes are going in on Lawrence Avenue. (88, 90 and 92). Will they look Victorian? ©  4/23/18. Blogfinger photo.

Here are some “objectives and goals” taken from the Master Plan of the OG Historic District,–a “plan” which is largely ignored by the movers and shakers in the Grove who care little about historic preservation and the vision of those who were thrilled when OG was given recognition by the National and State Registers of Historic Places.

a.  “To integrate historic preservation into the Township’s history, its historical figures and its historic sites and district.”  And “encouraging new construction that is compatible in scale and design to the physical character of the surrounding neighborhood.”

b. “To seek to insure compatibility between new development and nearby historic sites and districts, in terms of both use and appearance.”  Really?”

So how do Mary’s Place and the Greek Temple get built in the heart of our ocean front historic area?

c. “To  encourage residents to preserve the historic character, livability and property values of historic structures in neighborhoods….”

This subject is not exactly new.  Take a look at this 2012 Blogfinger post:

Blogfinger poll on historic heritage in OG

 

SARAH VAUGHAN  sings a Cole Porter Broadway  song:

 

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Internet photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a Blogfinger post regarding airbnb:

Airbnb Blogfinger post summer 2017

 

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

 

ELVIS:

 

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grass, weed, pot, hash, tea, ganja, cannabis and other synonyms. It all spells getting high.  APP photo.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Legalization of marijuana for recreational use is favored by the Asbury Park Council.  They see major dollar signs as well as social progress.

The Governor wants this, and A. Park wants a piece of the action.   But it may take over a year for the legislation to be hammered out in Trenton and then locally.

It is not our intent on Blogfinger to report on this subject except as it pertains to Ocean Grove.  As we have noted before, OG and A. Park are culturally quite different, but, in some ways, they do complement each other.

However, we suspect that this particular issue will be viewed negatively in the Grove as it pertains  to our quiet, family oriented historic town which might find itself as an entry point into a pot paradise to the north.

Also, the allure of A. Park will magnify the current problem which we already inherit from them regarding the park-and-walk habits of A. parkers who love the free ride on OG’s already gridlocked narrow streets.

According to the Asbury Park Press,   “Asbury Park is often viewed as a bastion of social progressivism, with an all-Democrat City Council, a strong arts and entertainment scene as well as large minority and LGBT populations. 

“Its support for marijuana legalization and sales isn’t new. Two years ago the city backed a resolution that supported legalization of marijuana in the state.”

Asbury Park Press piece dated  April 4, 2018:

“Asbury Park is one of only two cities in New Jersey where officials have talked openly about the opportunities associated with opening a legal weed dispensary. That enthusiasm — coupled with the city’s location and reputation — could turn the City by the Sea into one of the state’s epicenters for legal weed, New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association President Hugh O’Beirne said.

“The city has a “natural advantage” with its location, a relatively northern Jersey Shore destination with a much easier ride for travelers from North Jersey and New York, O’Beirne said. The town of less than two square miles has a population of 16,000 people.

“Further, it’s already a “cultural destination” that is drawing marijuana users – just without a legal place for them to purchase weed. In its 2017 Cannabis Attitudes Survey, New Frontier Data reported that 22 percent of respondents nationwide said they’d be more interested in visiting a state with legal weed.”

THE FRATERNITY OF MAN   “Don’t Bogart That Joint” from the soundtrack of Easy Rider.

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Marina at Shark River. Internet image.

 

11/3/12. No sign of Neptune workers helping with the OG cleanup. Volunteers are shown.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©

 

Veterans-Park-Neptune1

Neptune Township. Not Ocean Grove. Internet photo

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  Blogfinger.net

Last year Neptune spent over $2 million of Federal funds to complete the rebuilding of  the Shark River Municipal Marina. They also rebuilt the Riverside Park across the street.  In today’s Coaster we learn that $3 million in Neptune improvements were approved by the Committee on March 12 including a skate board park for about $500,000 and the purchase of a 2.65 acre tract for $1.25 million to be turned into a park in the Shark River Hills area.  Bonds are being issued to finance most of these projects along with some grants.   But bonds are not free.   The Township must pay interest which is supported by our taxes in the Grove.  And who will pay for building the park?

After Sandy, Neptune Township devoted a great deal of resources on recovery in that same Shark River area, but they kept their distance when it came to the recovery in Ocean Grove. We have photos of Randy Bishop setting up a headquarters trailer for Sandy relief at the Shark River, but where was the Committee on the OG side?  I was there at the ocean front cleanup zone where there were CMA officials and volunteers;  didn’t see Neptune workers anywhere.

If Neptune Township is avoiding spending in Ocean Grove because the Camp Meeting owns the land, as occurred with the ocean front cleanup after Sandy and with the limited park and sidewalk maintenance in the Grove,  then Ocean Grove should have its own lower tax rate.

So while Neptune is on a spending spree now, what will they do for the taxpayers in the Grove?  Recently they refused to hire experts to design a workable permit parking plan to help residents here.  Now they are “looking into” a shuttle bus plan to provide relief during major events, but they again wouldn’t spend some money to get a consultant involved, and they seem only mildly interested, at best.   They also failed to help the residents acquire a needed dog park or dog beach, and our parks are poorly maintained.

The Township is indifferent to OG.  We do have taxation without representation.  Just look at what they have done in the Grove, besides milking the cash cow, trying to ruin our historic preservation, allowing suspicious zoning activities, providing favoritism to certain citizens, ignoring our Master Plan, permitting our “historic district” to be flooded with tourists and cars, and ignoring State land use laws as they try to help developers.

So what have they done for us?  How about cancelling the North End redevelopment plan, buy the land by obtaining Federal grants  (as they have done elsewhere in town,) and turning those acres into a park.  Tit for tat.  We need some of that tat in the Grove.

BRIAN WILSON  “Heroes and Villains:”

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New Victorian on north side of Ocean Pathway, Manchester site. Jean Bredin photo for Blogfinger.net. 1/31/18. ©

 

Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor @Blogfinger.

Amateur historical architects are already raving about this home under construction on Ocean Avenue—a work in progress. Our consultant has a one word review of this project so far, “WOW!”

Johnny on the spot evokes the old days when there were outhouses.  We assume that there will eventually be indoor plumbing.

Besides the welcoming sight of this  single family home going up where condominiums were once proposed—at the Manchester Inn location before it was destroyed by fire, other new Victorians (four of them) are actively under construction at the Whitfield Hotel site  (Bath and Surf Avenues.)   Recently #19 Bath Avenue reached the market at $1.25 million.   #17 was similarly priced.  As far as we can tell, no condos are presently in the works.

Link to the Whitfield construction site:

Whitfield single family houses

The owner of the Warrington who is suing the Township because he wants a hotel  (? or condos) on his Lake Avenue property, the site of a huge fire last March which destroyed that hotel,  might take notice of what happened to the Manchester and the Whitfield, and back off—choosing instead to put up one or two single family homes over there as well.

It would be good if the OGCMA  (who owns all the land in town) would pay attention to the Master Plan and support the Single Family Homes in the Grove Movement–to join with the citizens of Ocean Grove who are solidly behind that concept.

The CMA might begin by pressuring the Warrington owner to change his vision for that site and then top it off by withdrawing their support for the aggressive and destructive  North End Redevelopment Plan.

ROSEMARY CLOONEY:

 

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This is the view of the Park View Inn facing Lake Avenue and Wesley Lake  before it was demolished. Note how narrow that property is. The Warrington is to the right.  The La Pierre condos are on the left.   Blogfinger photo. 2016. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.

After the Park View Inn was demolished in the summer of 2016, Blogfinger wrote some articles regarding the fate of that property. The Planning Board approved a subdivision that would allow the site to be turned into 4 lots for single family homes.  But Blogfinger questioned the legality of that subdivision, because the 2 lots on Lake Avenue would not face any street—Lake Avenue is not a street.

On the other hand, after years of trying to get rid of that derelict property, it was accomplished, and the neighbors were thrilled. They did not question the legality of what occurred next.

Here is a link to our last post on that subject:

Is the Park View Inn subdivision legal?

Now, one of the 4 houses has been built, at #21 Seaview Avenue, and the developer has the other 3 properties, including #18 and #20 Lake Avenue and #23 Seaview Avenue up for sale.   The homes will cost over $ 1 million. They will have 5-6 bedrooms and  3-4 bathrooms.  They are 2 1/2 to 3  stories high and they will have views of Wesley Lake and the Ocean.  The subdivision, which is one block to the beach is called “Seaview by the Lake.”

One house on this subdivision is built (#21 Seaview Ave.) Note how narrow it is with 5 bedrooms. The lot is 25 x 72.  (1,800 ft2.) The Warrington foundation is in the foreground. Paul Goldfinger photo Dec. 2017. ©

The marketing by realtors is of interest, because it is revealing the attitude of this developer toward Ocean Grove.  And will this sort of promotion become the norm?   We have been worried that the community of Ocean Grove will be left behind to collect sand in its shorts as the developers promote the town of OG as basically a gateway to Asbury and other areas, as they turn out very expensive homes as is the norm now in Asbury Park.

The Internet promotion of these 4 homes refers to “landmarks” that are accessible, and this list includes only one in OG—the beach. The rest of the list includes sites in Asbury Park, Belmar, Pt. Pleasant Beach, Long Branch, and Spring Lake beach. There is no mention of Ocean Grove’s historic nature or its fabulous places to visit—not even the Great Auditorium is featured.  And there is no mention of the community of Ocean Grove, its life styles, its diversity, or its friendly and neighborly porch culture.

In addition, there is no talk about parking. As with other projects in town, the Township allows defiance of State mandated regulations, so these 4 houses provide no off-street parking—just further congestion at that North End part of town.  And who knows what will happen at the Warrington site?

PEGGY LEE AND GEORGE SHEARING   “If Dreams Come True.”   Live in Miami, from the album Beauty and the Beat

 

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Main Avenue. Starting from far left:  Pet Boutique, April Cornell, DJ’s Market, and  DJ’s Delights  (a restaurant.)  Blogfinger photo. Dec 4, 2017

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

A few weeks ago we heard that the Pet Boutique on Main Avenue would close, but that is all the facts which were then available. But now, some reliable sources have provided more information about three adjacent stores which will close.

The  common thread for all these stores has to do with the landlord who owns #60 Main Avenue, the location of all three businesses: Pet Boutique, April Cornell, and DJ’s Market (groceries.)

Evidently the rents are being raised   “significantly.” In addition, some months ago, there was flooding in the building damaging the ceilings of these shops, resulting in temporary interior  framing being installed to prevent collapse.  And the owner is evidently expecting the tenants to help pay for repairs.

The owner of #60 Main is Sackman Enterprises, aka Linus Holding Co. This is an established real estate company based in NYC and surrounding states including 6 properties in Asbury Park

One year ago we wrote about the owner’s plans for this building. The links are below:

Main Avenue project June 2016

 

58-60 Main Avenue plans 2016 BF post

 

In the case of the Pet Boutique,”there are some other elements including the desire of the shop owner to retire. That store  will close on Dec. 31 and it will be missed by the pet owners in town.

DJ,s will close its grocery store, but the adjacent DJ,s restaurant on the corner  (pizza, sandwiches, etc.) will stay open.

April Cornell, probably the most famous and unique shop in town, is reluctantly planning to leave the Grove and move to larger quarters in Spring Lake. Evidently they were unable to find a suitable replacement location in town.

The manager of April Cornell asked that we make it clear that the business is not closing—-just changing its location, and that won’t happen until April, 2018.

The new white building at #50-54 Main Avenue may not have any store vacancies.   We do know that a high-end pizza business will open there next year, but right now there is a perfume store and a Christmas shop.  And the Comfort Zone has temporary quarters in that  building pending renovation of their space eastward down the block.

The Emporium’s Beach shop is currently closed pending renovations.

There is a for sale sign outside “Favorite Things,” but they are open for business.

We have reported in the past on the theme of the Main Avenue shops:  Are they to be for tourists or for residents?  Some businesses serve both constituencies.  We have already lost a doctor, a pharmacy, a barber shop, a dry cleaners/tailors, a fine grocery store, a news stand, a flower shop, a toy store, a newspaper printing shop, a butcher shop, a popular restaurant (Moonstruck), and a video store.

We have had increased parking and tourist congestion downtown as well as in other parts of the Grove, and that speaks to the fundamental question of what kind of town will we have here?  What is the town’s future and what will happen to its historic theme?

Who will win:  residents who make this their home or the commercial interests?

Here is a link discussing the business community on Main Avenue:

 

BERNADETTE PETERS AND MANDY PATINKIN   from Sunday in the Park with George  by Stephen Sondheim:

“Stop worrying if your vision
Is new
Let others make that decision-
They usually do
You keep moving on…”

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Ocean Grove beach: the number one asset affecting home prices, but will future home sales rise as they should?   Recent Asbury valuations have risen nearly 3 times as high as OG. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

On August 16, 2017, Rev. John DiGiamberardino (OGCMA) issued a statement about permit parking.  And in that statement, besides threatening to sue the Township over parking permits, he said,   “I believe the plan also will negatively affect property values.”

That provoked a local realtor, “Susan,” to say,    “As a full-time realtor for more than two decades, I can tell you that resident permit parking will help, not hurt, home sales and thus,values. It is precisely the gamble of whether or not a person will be able to find a place to park that dissuades people from buying in Ocean Grove.

“On weekends, they know it’s a losing proposition. It’s the #1 deterrent for OG sales and rentals, in my experience. People don’t want to deal with it, they just buy elsewhere.”

Now, the CMA remains in firm opposition to the permit plan, and I am interested in pursuing the topic of what factors influence the selling prices of our homes in the Grove.

Of course, we know the usual suspects that are mentioned including location, comps, the economy,  interest rates, and others.  But since we are in the Grove, we also know that our town is unique and has beautiful historic architecture. We know that our porch culture,  neighborliness , quality of life and diversity—including the fact that we have a vibrant gay community here—- are all positives in the marketplace.  The proximity to an erupting  Asbury Park is a mixed bag for OG buyers.

But let’s consider the negatives that potentially drag down our home values, and this is not necessarily a judgement of those factors, but simply an analysis of what might pull our home valuations in the wrong direction—this is fact-based economics:

a.    We have a dominant religious presence in the Grove, and that will turn off some buyers, and those buyers are increasingly secular.   And if potential buyers dig deep, they will see that the CMA can sometimes be quite arrogant—as in the recent threats to sue and the recent unpredictable acceleration of some lease fees.

Then add on the CMA fight against permit parking, a policy  which buyers would  likely support, and their concerns might multiply.

b.   Potential buyers are turned off by the chaotic parking  and congestion situation.   How many buyers will love the idea that our town has monster events that bring thousands of tourists to town?  Year round congestion in the Grove is becoming progressively worse to the detriment of residents and their quality of life.

I know two couples, each living here for many years,  who sold their homes because they had become exasperated by the constant battle to find parking and constant bumping into tourists—something that is becoming year round.

c.  We have shopping in town, but most of it is for tourists. Home buyers  like the idea of a town with shopping, but it would be quality of life shopping, not T shirts and gifts.

d. Quality of schools is a huge factor for some home buyers. The Neptune test scores would be a turnoff.

e.  Access to parking.  Home buyers will reject a house without a garage or even a driveway.  But maybe they would be tempted if the current trend towards increasing parking distress were turned around. But developers, business people, Neptune Township and the CMA have shown no interest in finding solutions to the issues raised by homeowners. And I’m not convinced that the Committee is sincere about permit parking.

f.  Supply and demand.  It is our understanding that the high taxes here are discouraging young families, senior citizens and middle class buyers. Those high taxes for Grovers are out of proportion to the services which we receive.

And if the negativity and indifference  towards residents  continues on the part of Neptune Township, it will discourage investors in buying homes here.

And that negativity includes disinterest in our history and our quality of life. We wonder if the Township is intentially trying to weaken the Historic Preservation Commission and even wanting to rid the “historic district”  of its historic designations.

There is no organization in town that represents residents. Unless you pay money and join  you cannot vote at the HOA, and renters are excluded.   The HOA is an ineffective institution here in terms of quality of life for all residents.

If the town wants home values to go up, it should become a historic, culturally rich, genuine community where residents are the top priority and where an activist group stands up for the people.

g.   Other negative factors include dumping dirty water into our lakes, crime/drugs around the corner,  developers who want to increase congestion without providing parking,  a Township Committee which promotes a “cash cow” culture towards the Grove including ignoring our master plan and favoring zoning changes that will pull the town away from being a single family residential community.

For those of you homeowners who are indifferent to social, political, environmental, and cultural issues in town, maybe you would reconsider if you were to think about your home valuations.  And you could begin by supporting the permit parking plan.

 

KIP MOORE:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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A perfect potential Ocean Groovy Airbnb rental–all the charm of our special town. Blogfinger photo. ©  (This is not actually an Airbnb rental; just an illustration)

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

In a recent “just wondering” segment, we began to consider the facts surrounding the new rental phenomenon where people in town can turn their homes into impromptu hotels, making fast money by renting living spaces for short visits—even just one night.

Or course, there have always been rentals, especially summertime, in Ocean Grove, going back to the town’s founding when there was a huge religious tourism industry along with many rooming houses and hotels.

But now, all over the world, homeowners are accepting tenants who connect with others on the Internet—Airbnb has an app.

According to one Grover*, this has become a problem because these Airbnbers ride into town and expect hotel amenities.  They don’t know our rules and customs and they bring parties with them.

But, regarding the rules of the road, Neptune Township has control, and I have spoken to Code Enforcement this morning.

The fact is that Airbnb rentals in Ocean Grove are  no different than any other short term rentals in town.

You may not rent a room.  You may rent an apartment or a house, but with each rental, a CI  (Certificate of Inspection) is required.  If you are doing rapid turnovers, such as one night at at a time, you must renew the CI with each rental.

—-*Airbnb on Blogfinger August 10 post

JOE WILLIAMS imagining a rental in quaint OG:

 

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