Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove RSIS issues’ Category

Ocean Grove: Can we keep it? By Paul Goldfinger ©

Ocean Grove: Can we keep it?     Photo by Paul Goldfinger ©


Saturday, March 26, 2016.    Ocean Grove, NJ.:

34 comments below.


Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger     Jack Bredin, Researcher.


At this morning’s HOA meeting, the membership voted, by an estimated 3:1 margin, to defeat Jack Bredin’s motion, which would have supported a plan to promote single family home zoning throughout Ocean Grove.  We have spelled out the technical details of this subject in our many recent posts.

This vote means that the OGHOA, Board and membership, will be supportive as Neptune Township  continues to approve condominium buildings without parking and to maintain its ongoing policy to defy State Land Use Law .

The OGHOA has become an impotent organization without any coherent values to protect the Grove from greedy developers and unprincipled elected officials.

At Blogfinger we tried to warn everyone. It’s not that we care about what that crew at the HOA Board thinks, but we do care about what Grovers think , so the vote today was disappointing.

We will continue to report the news and our opinions, but we are done trying to encourage our HOA neighbors into opposing those who would exploit our town.

We are not giving up on Ocean Grove, but we will divert our attention from the HOA, an organization which has straight-lined as far as we are concerned.


(PS:    There are 34 comments by Grovers. Click on “comments” below)




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Jack Bredin (L), Kevin Chambers (R) and Paul Goldfinger (photographer) represented Ocean Grove at the SIAB in December 2015.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor and Jack Bredin, reporter/researcher for Blogfinger.net  (Ocean Grove, NJ)

The Site Improvement Advisory Board (SIAB)  is a regulatory board, part of the N.J. Department of Community Affairs.  The 12 appointed members meet quarterly to implement their task of regulating residential development in New Jersey.  They concern themselves with matters such as streets/parking, storm-water management, water supply, and sanitary sewers.  It provides engineering standards to ensure public health and safety.

Exceptions can be made to these standards   (“A municipality or a developer may individually or jointly request a waiver from a provision of the RSIS from the Site Improvement Advisory Board by showing that adherence to a particular provision presents a danger to public health and safety.“)*

The 12 members are all professionals representing various groups including planners, engineers, Builders Association, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Div. of Codes and Standards, and others.  This group is clearly devoted to protecting the citizens of New Jersey.

Remember when Neptune wanted to get an exception to the RSIS  (Residential Site Improvement Standards) regarding parking in Ocean Grove which would allow the floodgates to open for condoization all over town, gridlock, and a worsening parking situation?  So, when Blogfinger and some other Ocean Grove citizens showed up at that 12/15 meeting, the Neptuners took a look around and asked for their request to be cancelled.  It has not re-appeared on the agenda since then.

But we expect that exceptions will be requested again by Neptune with respect to the North End Redevelopment Plan.

So today, October  18, 2018, Jack and I went to a meeting of the SIAB in Trenton.  We were treated cordially by the Chairman Joseph  Doyle,Jr and by John Lago, administrator.  We were attracted to this meeting because of agenda items:  committee reports on storm-water and streets/parking, parking decks and large surface lots. And we were pleased to see that the Board  recognized us and were interested in why we were there.

We listened carefully to their discussions which were quite technical and not specifically about us, but it was important that the SIAB knows that Ocean Grove citizens have issues.

During the public portion, Jack stood up and read a statement which he wrote about Wesley Lake pollution and about the name change of that body of water. Jack reported that Neptune  had instituted an “illegal” name change on the tax map. He asked for “guidance” from the board about this matter.  We did not raise parking issues this time.

Chairman Doyle said the Wesley Lake matter was ” a very complicated issue,” but that his board could not “address it.”   He and other board members did however respond to Jack’s statement that the name change violated the requirements of the DEP’s Green Acre program of which Wesley Lake is part.

Mr. Doyle recommended that the matter be taken up with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection  (DEP) because this may be a violation of State and Federal laws.  At a personal level, the Chairman said that he has a home in Bradley Beach and was familiar with Ocean Grove and its lakes.

It is our belief that our ongoing relationship with the SIAB will help us monitor the efforts of Neptune Township to bypass regulations in Ocean Grove which also include zoning and land use improprieties. It will help to remind the SIAB that we are still around and active.

Note:  If you Google the SIAB, the last Blogfinger post on this subject comes up high on the list.  Also, a search of the BF search box on top will reveal some other posts about SIAB.

Blogfinger goes to Trenton in 2015


Wells, Jaworski and Liebman  law firm*



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Entrance to Ocean Grove at Main Avenue. Blogfinger photo.


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


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

 By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

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

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

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

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

15  What goes on at those Zoning Board meetings?

  1. Is there equal  justice in the Grove?

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


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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.


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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The next OGHOA meeting will be held on March 26 at 10:00 am.  in the Community Room.  There will be a discussion of Jack Bredin’s February motion regarding the Neptune Township Application for a special RSIS  parking standard.  His motion, currently tabled, reads:

“The OGHOA is in favor of the Neptune Township Committee refiling an application for a waiver from the State RSIS Parking Standard for detached single family houses only.”

You may recall that the Township applied in 2015 for a special standard which would apply to all of Ocean Grove.   But that would open the door to unlimited condoization in town as well as more multifamily or large buildings that could be built without providing any parking.  That outrageous effort by the Township has been supported by the OGHOA and is a policy which is just the opposite of what most Grovers prefer.

Jack’s motion would recommend a special standard only for new single family houses.  That means approvals could be given for new single family  houses without demanding that they have driveways or garages.

Blogfinger recommends that you go to that meeting and vote for Jack’s motion.   And please support Jack in case there is any more parliamentary chicanery afoot.

Also note that currently there is no active Neptune OG application at the Department of Consumer Affairs because the last one was dismissed without prejudice by the State Site Improvement Advisory Board, and Neptune has not so far re-applied.

The SIAB recently cancelled their March meeting.  We suspect that Neptune will re-apply so that they can continue their anti-OG policies regarding condominiums without worrying about breaking the law.   But even if Neptune does not reapply, this vote will indicate which way the wind is blowing in our town.

The Township Committee now has 2 new members, so we must keep the pressure on the Committee to do their jobs as representatives of the people instead of being shills for developers.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

GRANT PHABAO    “Message to you Rudy”  from the movie Chef.

“Stop your messing around (ah-ah-ah)

Better think of your future (ah-ah-ah)

Time you straighten right out (ah-ah-ah)

Creating problems in town (ah-ah-ah)”


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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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The HOA held a meeting on Saturday, Feb 27, 2016. In attendance were Blogfinger reporters. It was a turning point for Ocean Grove. Several HOA board members stood shoulder to shoulder with two Neptune Committeemen   (Bishop and Rizzo) and told the audience, in so many words, that they will continue promoting condominiums and commercialization without parking in Ocean Grove.

They pontificated about the RSIS, filling the room with jargon and gibberish, but they failed to explain that offering Ocean Grove an exemption from RSIS regulations will result in unfettered condo conversions, including not only big multifamily buildings, but conversions of smaller multi-family houses all over town. They never honestly explained why they support the RSIS Special Standard, and nobody pressed them to do that.

For those of you who want Ocean Grove to be a charming family-oriented historic town with single-family house zoning, your vision will never happen. If you want a low density town without crowding and congestion, your desire will never be realized. If you want a town where developers and politicians do not prevail over the citizens, you will never see that thanks to the OGHOA Board. It was their responsibility to protect our town, and they have failed at that.

The corruption of the HOA was made clear at that meeting. Ocean Grove is on its way further  downhill, led by the HOA, the politicians, and the developers.

It’s time to pull the plug on that miserable organization. Only an insurrection can turn this around, because presently, there is no group in town to stem the tide. The town will change for the worse and few will try to stop the inevitable.

Ocean Grove is doomed to becoming an ordinary place, and that will disappoint many of you who have taken pride in the unique promise of this historic town and who have invested your lives and money in a dream.

Blogfinger will report the news, but we will not waste any more of our time with the feckless HOA, because the citizens have remained apathetic despite our efforts. At present, there seems to be little cause for optimism.

You should all read Jack Bredin’s comprehensive and unique discussion of the RSIS matter. It is disgraceful that his motion at the meeting was tabled due to a vote by the members.


Paul Goldfinger , Editor @Blogfinger

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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  http://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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To the Editor:

Hi. We are retiring in May and will be living in Ocean Grove full time. We live in the 1st floor apt. of our Victorian that has an apt. on each of the 3 floors.

We enjoy the challenge of not moving our car all weekend and staying put in this lovely town. However, I’m not stupid either, and if we allow the remaining buildings to turn condo with no parking, on top of the parking encroachment from Asbury Park’s growing popularity (which is a good thing)….it will be a bad thing for OG.

Can you suggest on Blogfinger whom we can write to in Trenton so they don’t listen to our town officials who have an obvious conflict of interest.


Thank you for all that you do.


Ocean Grove, N.J. Jan. 21, 2016.


EDITOR’S NOTE:  You can write to the Residential Site Improvement Standards   (RSIS) Committee regarding the Neptune Township  application to obtain a special exemption  to the parking rules (RSIS)  that require new construction to provide off street parking in Ocean Grove.

It is the Blogfinger position that such an exemption will open the door for more multifamily buildings such as condos. Currently the Township simply ignores the law and thus we get condos without parking, such as the giant one on the south side of Ocean Pathway.

Note that the application currently is inactive.  But the Township can resubmit it  (and probably will) in the near future, so go ahead and write the DCA.

The address is RSIS Committee, NJ Department of  Community Affairs, 101 S. Broad Street, Trenton, NJ , 08625   or send an email to john.lago@DCA.NJ.GOV

DCA building in Trenton.  NJ.gov photo

DCA building in Trenton. NJ.gov photo


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