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Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove land use issues’ Category

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

—PG     Blogfinger.net

 

JOHNNY CASH: 

 

 

 

 

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Warrington 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

 

By Jack Bredin, reporter and researcher at Blogfinger.net

The Warrington Hotel’s lot was “landlocked” as a result of an improper subdivision.

Hotel guests could not enter or exit the building without crossing over private property. Neighbors would report seeing faces looking in their side yard windows at all hours of the day and night.

Later, the former hotel had become a “flop-house” and was finally shut down by the State in June, 2012.

It would become an empty derelict building. If the Township’s elected and  appointed officials, who are all pledged to serve and protect the citizens, had been doing their jobs in the first place, the old Warrington building would have been demolished years before the fire and replaced by a single family house.

So what would inspire the owner to redevelop the old empty boarding house into a boutique hotel on a lot that was illegally subdivided, undersized, and not fronted on a street?

In 2017 a site plan was prepared and approved by Neptune Twp. to restore the Warrington into a 21 unit hotel with no onsite parking, and hotel guests and workers who would enter and exit across a non-existent pedestrian easement.

Perhaps it was the incorrect and misleading advice the Township Planner reported while under oath to the Planning Board that “Lake Avenue is an existing roadway.” That opinion was nonsense. Lake Avenue has always been a lot privately owned by the Camp Meeting Association.

The Planning Board should have dismissed the application because the property was still landlocked.  The Board approved the use variance and the Board’s resolution did not require the applicant to provide and pay for a road necessary for its development.

Unfortunately, this misinformation worked its way into the North End Redevelopment Plan where the entire plan depends on Lake Avenue being a municipal street.

The North End Plan also states “Neptune Township will limit its use of eminent domain to instances where there is a clear public purpose such as roadway improvements….”

And while we are connecting dots, the Warrington property is located on Lake Avenue a half block from the North End Redevelopment.  And, the fire investigators have three suspects, one of whom is the owner of the Warrington property where the fire occurred shortly after the Township awarded a use variance to Jack Ancona.

It is important to keep in mind that a use variance, such as the one that gives permission to build that boutique hotel, does not expire because a fire destroyed the building.  It runs with the land as though the lot was re-zoned for that use and density.

After the fire, the Town Planner claimed, and the court agreed, that the owner lost the right to re-develop the destroyed building. And, of course, one can’t redevelop the old building–it is gone.

But the fire may have been a blessing in disguise for the Warrington’s property owner because he now has a use variance that would permit a new 21 unit hotel on property that had been zoned single family:

 

a.   The developer may  now have approval to build a 21 unit hotel that could be converted into condos, but the project may be doomed to failure if the Township does not provide a roadway to the project.

b.  The Township may not be able to acquire any part of Lake Avenue for the necessary roadway because Lake Avenue is part of a Green Acre Program providing a public access to and around Wesley Lake.  And don’t say its a “detention basin,” because it is still a lake.

Could any of this perpetual land use malpractice have been a contributing factor leading to the “spontaneous combustion” of the Warrington Hotel?

 

BECK:

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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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A legal fence in historic Ocean Grove. Blogfinger.net photo ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor and Jack Bredin, reporter and researcher.

At the November 1 meeting of the Board of Adjustment, a homeowner made a formal request to replace a preexisting 4 foot fence with a 6 foot fence. He based his request for a bulk variance on the need for more privacy.   The homeowner appeared without an attorney or expert witness.   Asking for more privacy is not a valid consideration in providing a variance for this homeowner’s request.

The Neptune Township zoning limits rear fences to five feet. Many historic fences are 4 feet.  Robert Frost said, “Good fences make good neighbors.”  But in OG, they may not be too tall or your good neighbors may lodge a complaint at the Mother Ship.

The Chairwoman of the Historic Preservation Commission, Deb Osepchuk,  was present. She testified that the homeowner sought approval from the HPC, but that request was denied as not being compatible with HPC Architectural Design Guidelines   (see below)

“Rear yard fence height. Fences located in a rear yard area or on lot lines abutting a rear yard area shall not exceed a height of five (5) feet. The height of any decorative elements, articulated corners, gateways and posts shall be included in the fence height measurement.”

Why would a neighbor object to this homeowner’s request? After all, we all understand the need for privacy.

The meeting was poorly attended by those who live within 200 feet of the property who had received letters notifying them of the meeting.  Two neighbors appeared to oppose approval. But the approval  or disapproval of neighbors is not required for the Board’s decision.

Some neighbors didn’t care and didn’t attend. Others could have objected on the grounds of equal justice under the law, because they believe that no one should be exempted from the rules.  Also, there are those who would object because of “light, air, and open space issues.”  And others might be concerned with neighborhood aesthetics.

But the most compelling reason for denial is “precedence.”  If this applicant were approved, then the next person who comes along asking for a 6 foot fence would have to be treated the same way.  Then, all around town, we get 6 foot fences, and then the town no longer looks as it did before—-it will be contrary to what the town is all about.

In this regard, the people of Ocean Grove who want to have a successful historic town, need to keep an eye on such applications.  Neptuners don’t have the same sensitivity to historic appearances as we do.   Luckily, the Chairman of the Board of Adjustment is an Ocean Grover—Paul Dunlap, while Deb Osepchuk  (HPC) also lives in the Grove. They understand why these issues are important.

ELLA FITZGERALD AND THE BUDDY BREGMAN ORCHESTRA

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Back then the CMA controlled all parking in the Grove.  If that parking mandate was not outrageous,  then why not  the new paradigm?

 

Parking in the Grove. Resident parking should come first. Everyone else can find a way. Blogfinger photograph. 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfnger.net

Until 1980, the Camp Meeting Association ran the town and could command everyone to move their cars out of town on Sunday.  But they are no longer in charge, and Ocean Grove is now similar to other Shore towns when it comes to parking, except that we have few garages and driveways.

There are a finite number of parking spaces in the Grove and a finite number of residents.

Those people who live in this town and who pay to live here—owners and renters—-should receive a special status which gives them top priority for parking spaces.

The Township should  promise that residents will be guaranteed a parking space whenever they need one.  This can be done by allocating special reserved spaces for them.   All others who come into town including tourists, shoppers, church-goers,  and beachers will have to compete for the remaining spaces.

Where is it written that parking is a democratic process?  Favoritism for residents is essential to maintain life styles and functionality for those who make this town their home.  They deserve that privilege, and everyone else is on their own.

Many ideas can be implemented to help those non-residents who want to visit here, and those ideas involve reducing the number of visitors with cars and adding order with metered parking.

Yes there would be some wrinkles to iron out, but this favoritism offers a foundation for solving the problem and a chance to reclaim the town for the home-boys and girls who favor a comfortable, family style, non-congested, historical, small town atmosphere with air, light,  space, and parking.

Petition the town, wave a magic wand, and voila—our home values will go up and our town will be better.

BILLY JOEL ROYAL:

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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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Main Avenue in the commercial area. Diagonal parking, an eyesore,  is offensive to anybody’s sense of beauty.   Blogfinger photo April 2017.

 

Firemen’s Park.   Two truckers stop for a rest along the edge of our park on Main Avenue. The openness is welcomed, and only parallel parking should be continued there.  Imagine how this airy view will be when the Neptunites install diagonal parking.    Blogfinger photo April 17, 2017.

As I drove along Main Avenue a few days ago, I saw a bus resting along the edge of Firemen’s Park. It is not an uncommon sight, as drivers seek a respite—one of the few such places in Ocean Grove. In addition, from a beautification point of view, the vista across Firemen’s Park towards Main Avenue is beautiful and is enjoyed by all who live around the park,  visit the park regularly, or just walk there as part of a strolling experience in that part of town.  For those who drive into Ocean Grove, it is the first scenic view they have,  coupled with the historic architecture in that neighborhood.  It is also the last scenic event as they drive out of town.

Soon the Township will add a significant dose of ugliness by placing diagonal parking along the Main Avenue edge of the park.  Ugh!

Why do we allow those Yahoos at the Mother Ship, in partnership with insensitive Grovers on the Parking Task Force, to make our picturesque town progressively repugnant-looking, one inch at a time?

Send an email, an old fashioned letter, a phone call or even a fly-over banner drone addressed to Mayor Michael Brantley and tell him that we want his support to stop the vilification of historic Ocean Grove.  His administration refers to us as the Neptune “Historic District.”  Since when is diagonal parking historic?  Tell him that in 19th century OG even the horses could not be parked that way.

This ongoing indifference to the beauty of our town must be stopped or we will look like another crappy shore town clogged with cars, dumpsters, crowds, and ugliness.

drmbrantley@Neptunetownship.org

p.s.  Jack Bredin says,

“The lyrics from the song by the Eurythmics tells us ‘Some of them want to abuse you, Some of them want to be abused.’

“They could be describing Neptune’s relationship with many apathetic OG property owners.”

 

THE EURYTHMICS   “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.”

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In October we reported that houses would be built on that property next to the Arts Center.  Internet photo.

From OGJaimie:

“Just thought you’d be interested that dump next to the old high school, which used to contain lumps of soil and sand is now a construction lot for the Gannons and whatever other construction job is occurring in the immediate area, which currently involves something that involves digging up the street.

“Every day the number of vehicles, equipment, containers seems to increase. Pretty certain this is not an approved use.

“A worker/supervisor doing work on the roads (I assume on public utilities) told me that Herb Herbst, of the Jersey Shore Arts Center, said they could use the lot, but Herb no longer owns the land; the Gannon’s own it.”

Editor’s Note:  OGJaimie is a resident over there and he has a history of commenting about this subject.  Blogfinger has no information at this time about the current status of that property.

Here is a link to our October, 2016 post about that property.  There is a discussion there which deals with lot sizes and subdivisions, a topic that we are currently involved with regarding the Whitfield property on Surf Avenue.

Arts Center adjacent lot

—-PG

BILLIE HOLIDAY: “Can’t Get Started.”

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The Warrington Feb. 2017. Photo by a citizen reporter who lives a stone's throw away. The ParkView site is adjacent, approved for undersized lots. © Blogfinger.net

The Warrington, Feb. 2017. Photo by a citizen reporter who lives a stone’s throw away. The Park View site is adjacent, approved for undersized lots. © Blogfinger.net

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

This is no surprise, but the final Site Plan approval for turning the Warrington into a boutique hotel will be signed this week by the Zoning Board of Adjustment Engineer, Secretary,  and by the Board Chairman. As you may recall from our October, 2016 article  (see link below,) the process of final approval had been held up pending consideration of a variety of issues.

Our concerns last October included the need for an easement to connect the Lake Avenue structure with the utilities on Seaview Avenue. There are two small cottages which are interposed between the Warrington and Seaview Avenue.

According to Kristie Armour, the Zoning Officer for the ZBA, in an interview today, it was found that there was a pre-existing easement which would cover this matter.  But the tax map has shown no such easement.

Also, the new project encroaches on CMA property, but Ms. Armour tells us that the CMA wrote a letter to give permission. However, normally, such a letter would be useless unless the CMA property were newly subdivided to show that the Warrington owner now owns that encroached property.

There were other matters as well, but we have no information about these concerns including the bizarre suggestion by the Home Owners Assoc. to turn part of Lake Avenue into a two-way street near Founders’ Park ostensibly in order to create new parking.  New parking should never crowd out a historic location.

Another irregularity is that the Warrington is on a land-locked lot, not fronting on a street;  Lake Avenue is not a street. This should be illegal now as it pertains to the new project.

Other violations include failure to follow New Jersey state RSIS parking standards whereas this project should have been required to provide on-site parking.

The Warrington originally received final ZBA approval in 2015. In June 2016, the ZBA Engineer found that a Developers Agreement was needed.  In September 2016, the Developers Agreement was passed.  But there were still loose ends, and now we hear that the matter is finalized.

The only way that this project could be blocked now is with an appeal to the governing body or a law suit brought by the citizens to the Superior Court.  There is a 45  day opportunity to sue, and then it will be a “done-deal.”

But the Home Groaners  have shown no interest in this project or any other important land-use issues in town including the condoization of the Grove.  How do the residents of Sea View Avenue feel about this situation?

So there will be project approval this week even though the application is riddled with land-use law violations.

https://blogfinger.net/2016/10/21/the-case-of-the-worrisome-warrington-chapter-ii/

SUTTON FOSTER:  From Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein.  If you think that land use policies in Ocean Grove are hopelessly corrupted, do something silly and have a roll in the hay.

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images

 exit 100 off the GSP.


Exit 100 off the GSP.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

The deal to turn the Laingdon Hotel into a substance treatment center on Main Avenue was hatched last August—before the presidential election.  In our discussions about this matter, we learned something about the economics and we found out that such facilities can be very lucrative, especially for those high end clients who probably would have been found at the new Sprout/Laingdon location. But we also found out that insurance money is available for patients, including those who are not wealthy, such as those under Medicaid.    Also we spoke about a law enforcement program which lets drug criminals enter rehab instead of going to jail.

And that money trail exposed why entrepreneurs were interested in such facilities.

Our discussion also revealed that Ocean Grove still has  multifamily dwellings  and some multi-unit boarding houses such as the Whitfield (now deceased) and the Warrington  (now unoccupied and  aspiring to be an expensive “boutique hotel.”)

But a rehab facility could be created in a smallish multi-family house, even of only 2 or 3 units, just as such places could also be condoized, and neither use seems to be good for the town.   But the pressure to find new sources of investment income in OG could grow even larger, given the rising spending on healthcare.

Now the Grove is in danger of going viral with such “medical shelters” for addicts (rich or poor), Mary’s style clients, or whatever such “shelters” might be devised  by inventive investors.

Those who lived in this town in the 1980’s vividly recall all the “shelters” that were found around the Grove, and many of those attracted unattractive residents who hung out in various favored locations, smoking, yelling, sleeping on benches, and smelling.  We have heard of some of that from  residents who lived here during that era who are now dismayed that we might move in that direction once again.

But why would Neptune Township allow such deterioration?  Well, there are those in the Grove who believe that  Neptune officials really don’t care much about Ocean Grove and would be happy for it to slide into the abyss, as long as the tax dollars continue to flow in one form or another. And there are the local developers who are happy to exploit the town for money regardless of the consequences in terms of crowding, parking, and lifestyle deterioration.

However, during our last look at this subject,  before we could really sink our digital teeth into the rehab/Laingdon matter, the application for a use-variance at the Zoning Board of Adjustment was abruptly withdrawn, and we don’t know why.  Maybe the Blogfinger poll and citizen comments scared them away, but more likely we could find the answer by following the money.  Being unpopular with the OG public has never frightened the Neptune Township and Ocean Grove movers and shakers when money was at stake.

The Township ZBA office denies knowing anything about the withdrawal. But on January 14, an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal by Jeanne Whalen in the US News section, page A-3. which might shed some light on the situation. It was sent to us by a citizen reporter.

In it she explains that there are provisions under the Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare) that forces ACA insurance providers to pay for addiction rehab. The amount of money available that way is “huge,” as it tries to chase the widespread increase in deaths due to opioids such as heroine and fentanyl, especially in the north east, including Monmouth County.

According to the WSJ, “There are 2.8 million Americans with substance abuse disorders who would lose some or all of their insurance if the ACA is repealed.”

“Researchers at Harvard Medical School and NYU estimated a repeal would withdraw at least $5.5 billion annually from the treatment of mental health conditions including substance abuse.”

So, is there any wonder that investors have been  sniffing around our town thinking of rehab facilities as sources of healthcare income?  And perhaps, after Trump won, Sprout may have freaked out and chosen to drop the  Laingdon idea.

But, because the opioid addiction problem is growing and harming families and small businesses, the new administration might be compelled to keep the money coming, and if so, OG is really a perfect place to open rehab. facilities.

If Mary’s Place could get zoning approval for their “shelter” without even a variance, then you’d better not pout, you’d better not cry–I’m telling you why:  Santa Claus is coming to town and he has goodies in his sleigh for those who want to help addicts in the Grove.

THE PUPPINI SISTERS:

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