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Heading through the OG North End, near the Asbury line.  Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Wide open spaces.  Heading through the OG North End, near the Asbury line. June, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

This is Part V of a series of articles about the North End Redevelopment Plan in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

Since the OGCMA would have been able to develop the North End on its own, and since the North End was no blighted, crime-ridden, disease-laden, drug selling, rat-hole dilapidated slum in need of immediate rescue by government, why did the Neptune Township Planning Board fudge its way through the criteria in order to enable the North End to become a congested, money-making, commercial zone—-an “area in need of redevelopment,”—- which was not in the best interest of the people of Ocean Grove?

In the Resolution document they listed everything that was wrong over there that justified the creation of a redevelopment zone.   Those were code violations which were corrected as soon as the CMA was cautioned by Code Enforcement. Thus the result was no code violations and thus no valid reason to declare the North End property an “area in need of redevelopment.”  The CMA was perfectly able to work on that property itself.

To argue, as the Planning Board did, that there was some sort of emergency in 2007 is a joke. The North End in 2015 is no different than it was in 2007 except for some 2012 Sandy damage and a burned out storage shed from a few years ago.

Surely the Planning Board realized that the reasons they gave (including a few crummy abandoned unsafe buildings, a wreck of a swimming pool, over growth of vegetation, lack of utilization etc) were a joke and that the real purpose for the Township’s request was to achieve a dramatic change in zoning.

The Planning Board said that redevelopment at the North End was “necessary and overdue.” OK, why not tell that to the owners in 2007 and skip all the rest?  Is the project still “overdue” or is it not convenient now to say “overdue?”

Whether there were hidden financial motives, we cannot say, but for the Planning Board to conclude that the positives outweighed the negatives; that a hotel and condos would be better for the whole town than single family homes, is clearly, to any objective observer, a hoax.

On February 28, 2007, at a meeting of the Township of Neptune Planning Board, the Resolution 07-12 was presented, and a motion to approve was offered, and a vote was taken.

Resolution 07-12 is a “Resolution recommending that the Township Committee of the Township of Neptune designate certain properties as being in need of redevelopment (North End Ocean Grove.”)

That 22 page document mentions all the experts and citizens who spoke either for or against the plan, all the dotted i’s and crossed t’s, all the photos that showed how crummy conditions were at the North End, all the lawyers who weighed in, and the sworn witnesses which included Peter Avakian, the Township engineer.

The Resolution papers also mentioned that there were those who submitted written objections to the Resolution including former Mayor Joseph Krimko (now deceased,) Richard Seltzer, Esq., and Edward V. Kolling, PP, AICP (professional planner.)

The motion to approve the resolution was offered and then 5 Board members voted “Yes” including D. McCarthy, M. Hood, J. Shafto, W. Lapp and M. Golub. The Resolution needed 5 out of the 11 Board members for a legal vote.

No one voted “No” but there were six members of the Planning Board who were absent: R. Ambrosio, L. Berardi, A. Cardinale, W. Gizzi, J. Kortenhaus and I. Calderon. Why were so many board members absent for this vote? Can you guess?

If Dennis McCarthy, a Trustee of the OGHOA had voted “no” or even, along with the six others, had not shown up,  the Resolution would have gone down to defeat.

Finally, on page 19 of the Resolution, we have this quote:

“The Planning Board is of the unanimous belief that there is an immediate need for appropriate development in the subject North End/Ocean Grove (as referenced herein)— and that appropriate redevelopment is beneficial to the Township as a whole, and the residents of Ocean Grove.”

Editor’s Note:     Here is a quote from an October 2012 editorial by Blogfinger:   We urge the people of Ocean Grove who care about preserving the charm, character and livability of this community to start paying attention to this process now…”

The Planning Board vote described above was borderline and was suspicious. Most members of the Board did not even vote. Eight years have gone by, and the current NERP should be trashed now, and the process, beginning with the Planning Board vote, should begin again—-this time with hundreds of Grovers attending the meeting.

Maybe this time we can get that “old black magic” working for the people of OG:

MICHELLE WILLIAMS.   From the movie My Week With Marilyn

Credit:  Mr. Jack Bredin of Ocean Grove for his invaluable research.

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The Warrington ready for its close-up. March 19, 2015.  Blogfinger photo ©

The Warrington ready for its close-up. March 19, 2015. Blogfinger photo ©  I wonder if the “life is beautiful” artist was here too.  (was Kilroy here?)

From Warrington Wary:

I have gone to every meeting and I cannot understand the owners of the Warrington. They stated that as a hotel that all recyclables are going to be picked up by Neptune or a private company. This is in the minutes of the Zoning Board. This is JUST one of the misunderstandings. At the last meeting they intended to place all the garbage and recyclables at the front of Seaview Ave, blocking the sidewalk because there is no place to accomadate all the garbage, not to mention what impact it will have on the people who live in front of the Warrington or whom are vacationing.

They think a 4 foot easement means that they own the property and have the right to interrupt their neighbors’ privacy.They would like a 5 x 5 foot sign on Seaview Ave, but they said a 3 x 3 sign would be OK.

My question to all is would you like to enter a hotel in the back of it or enter from the front? The owners have no consideration for anyone who lives there. After all, did they ever pay for the 47 violations that closed them down in the first place as a rest home.

I would like to know what my fellow Ocean Grovers THINK?

Editor’s note: One year ago we posted our last article regarding the Warrington. As many of you will recall, this former “rest home” was closed by the State in 2012. If you click on the link below, you can read the status of the situation as of March, 2014.  

BF Warrington article March, 2014

To see other articles on Blogfinger about this subject, use the search engine on top of our home page and type in “Warrington.”  If any of you have any more information or opinions about the Warrington, please comment below. —Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

CAST OF FOLLIES BY STEPHEN SONDHEIM:  “Loveland”  (“where everybody loves to live.”)

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The North End Redevelopmane Zone is bordered by the boardwalk, Wesley Lake and Spray Avenue. Photo by Prosper Bellizia, Blogfinger staff. ©

The North End Redevelopment  Zone is bordered by the boardwalk, Wesley Lake, Beach Ave,  and Spray Avenue (foreground).   West to east photo by Prosper Bellizia, Blogfinger staff. ©   This was first posted in 2015.

Northeast aspect of the Redevelopment zone. Prosper Bellizia ©

Northeast aspect of the Redevelopment zone. Prosper Bellizia ©

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

In the December 4, 2014 issue of the Coaster is a column called “Did You Know?” by reporter Bonnie Graham. The focus of the piece was to explain the functions of the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association. Ms. Graham interviewed HOA President Ann Horan and wasted no time in bringing up the controversial North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP).

In responding to Graham’s questions about the NERP, Horan made an unforced error and got the facts wrong,*  resulting in a mild tempest at the subsequent Township Committee meeting on December 22, 2014.  The NERP, after all, is a sensitive and critical subject in Ocean Grove.

Between Horan’s embarrassing factual mis-step in the Coaster  and the reaction to it before the Neptune governing body, our interest in revisiting the story of the NERP was aroused.   On top of that, Graham made a  comment in the same article  that “CMA COO JP Gradone had asserted last August, 2014, at the  legislative breakfast meeting, that the North End redevelopment project, which had been on the back burner for some time, is now on the front burner.”   Really ?

On January 23, 2015, Blogfinger asked Gradone about that quote, and he said, “We are currently in discussion with the Developer regarding the project.”   So there is  some life in the process after many years of mystery, and therefore it’s time for the public to pay attention once again.  It should be noted that work cannot go ahead on the plan without a signed Redevelopment Agreement between the Township Committee negotiators  (Committee-persons Jahn and Bishop)  and the developers.  

By way of background, in the year 2006, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, owners of the undeveloped 2.37 acre North End property, decided to bring the desolate area back to its previous life where it was a lively place with a hotel, a cinema, attractions and shopping.  But one thing stood in the way—-zoning;  it was zoned for 13 single family homes.

So the developers of the property, including the CMA and others involved, created an end-run and convinced the Township Planning Board to redefine the area as a zone “in need of redevelopment,”  in accordance with the State Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.    This meant that the property was so “blighted,” that local government had to take over its management.  That new designation would allow a mixed use community to be built.

The design of a redevelopment was turned over to professional  planners in Middletown to come up with a ” framework” for a mixed use community at the OG North End. Ultimately, a much more detailed plan would have to be done before any construction could begin. Two planners signed the NERP, but no engineers did.

The developers of the plan include the OGCMA and a partnership called WAVE  (see below.)

In early 2008, the HPC, the CMA, and the OG Homeowners Association provided input which resulted in some changes in the NERP, and that was the last time that there were any changes made. The Planning Board approved the proposal, and in March, 2008, the Township Committee wrote the NERP into law.  A lawsuit was filed in opposition, and that held things up for awhile, but in 2010, Neptune Township won the suit.

The Plan includes a hotel with 80 rooms, 85 residential units consisting mostly of condos, some single family homes,  a “below grade” parking deck and  about 20  surface parking spaces. Parking is supposed to comply with RSIS State standards.   A 99 year renewable lease was part of the deal. The design was supposed to look Victorian.

You can read the  official NERP document at the Clerk’s office in the Neptune Township Municipal Building. It is no longer available on the Township web site, but we have located a link  (below) where you can read the entire planning report. **

For a variety of undisclosed reasons, the project has been dormant. Among the theories  are that a bad economy has been inhibitory and/or there have been difficulties getting all the approvals.

In 2011  the HOA passed a resolution asking that the NERP be scaled back. They offered some constructive ideas.  There is a link below reporting on their recommendations.  Unfortunately, nothing came of it.

In 2012  there were objections raised by the soon-to-be-elected Committeewoman Marybeth Jahn  regarding the size, scope and other details of the project.   Ms. Jahn spoke aggressively of changing the NERP in a totally retro direction, and everybody cheered.  It should also be noted that two other Committeemen were sympathetic to downsizing the project—-Eric Houghtaling and Randy Bishop.

Evidently buyers’ remorse was echoing through the town of Ocean Grove.  But not a single change was adopted despite these outcries.      Our October 2012 piece on this subject is linked below and is critically important reading material for every Ocean Grover.

In Sept. 2012, the following was reported in Blogfinger, covering the year-end Labor Day CMA meeting:  “CMA Trustee Douglas E. Arpert responded to a questioner who asked the status of the North End development of condos, homes and a hotel. The CMA and a company called WAVE (Wesley Atlantic Village Enterprises run by attorney William Gannon) are co-developers.  Arpert told Blogfinger they hope to conclude a redevelopment agreement with Neptune Township by the end of the year and to break ground in 2013.”    

But, of course, one month later, all of that changed with Sandy, and the developers planned to go back to the drawing board to “reassess” the plan. That made sense, because environmental regulations after the superstorm were going to change how things must be done in environmentally sensitive areas.  That was the last time we heard anything about NERP—until now  (2015).

So, getting back to the aforementioned HOA President Ann Horan’s December, 2014 Coaster interview, she said that the current  “North End Committee (and she listed the current members’ names) have  expressed the HOA’s concerns regarding the project to the Neptune Township Committee,  and their efforts helped to persuade the Committee to revise the redevelopment plan by reducing the number of proposed hotel rooms/condominium units, limiting the size of the structures in the site, providing for single family homes, and including an off street parking facility”

The problem with Horan’s December public statement in the Coaster is that she gave the false impression that the current North End Committee has been “active” in eliciting recent changes in the Redevelopment Plan.  But, as noted, there have been no changes in NERP since 2008—-7 years ago.

Horan’s statement was of sufficient concern that it was brought up at the Dec. 22, 2014 Township Committee meeting where her remarks were discussed publicly, and Committeeman Randy Bishop  found it necessary to make a public statement about it (see below.)   The Township Committee’s minutes are posted at Neptunetownship.org

The following is taken from the Committee minutes of Dec. 22, 2014:

Jack Breden, 94 1⁄2 Heck Avenue, read a recent Coaster article regarding the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association concerns regarding the North End Redevelopment Plan. The President of the Association, Ann Horan, is quoted that the Redevelopment Plan was changed based on recommendations from the Association. The article goes on to state that the Association got numerous elements of the Plan changed. Mr. Bishop stated changes were made to the Plan based on Association input before the Plan was adopted in 2008. There have been no changes made to the Plan since it was adopted in 2008.”

Because of the importance of the Redevelopment Plan to the town of Ocean Grove, “Horangate” has given us a heads-up to bring the plan’s story out of mothballs and into the public eye once again. Concerned citizens need the background to assess whatever may be coming our way re:  NERP.

Regarding starting work on the project, Committeeman Eric Houghtaling told Blogfinger three weeks ago, “I know that there are many, many things that need to be worked out before anything can be done on the Redevelopment project.”

Township Clerk Rick Cuttrell said earlier this month that he thought that the project had gotten all necessary approvals, including NJDEP, but he wasn’t certain and would find out.  We have not heard back yet on that inquiry.

So, now that the cat is out of the bag once again, and the history of the HOA’s involvement is cleared up, we will consider a series of more  detailed Blogfinger articles about the North End Redevelopment and what the future will bring.

It’s time to pay attention again, because anything new in this story, even just a dorsal fin in the water, must be made public. Currently the NERP is no different in size, scope or specifics than it was in 2008 when there were many misgivings in town about local congestion, environmental impact, parking,  and other quality of life issues. The project will affect the future of Ocean Grove in a major way.

RELEVENT LINKS AND NOTES BELOW:

1.   North end plan from 2008**

http://www.neptunetownship.org/sites/default/files/archive/documents/EDC/Redevelopment%20Plan_03-06-08_NorthEnd.pdf

2.   Dec 13, 2010:  BF “basic fact guide” about NERP         Link to  2010 BF review

3.   May, 2011:  HOA passes a resolution which results in no changes to the NERP   HOA NERP resolution 2011 BF post link

4.  October 2012:       Very important article which all Grovers should read. Blogfinger was the last OG entity to plead for a reduction in the project.    Link:     BF Oct 12, 2012 North End article

BF quote from the Oct. 2012 article linked above  (a very important piece written shortly before Sandy:)  “If this is built, it will be the most massive construction project in Ocean Grove’s modern history. Its impact on all of us will be substantial, and that impact will begin at the opening gun, with the start of construction. ”  

If you use the BF search engine on the top of our home page, just type in “North end redevelopment plan” for more details.

WANTED:  Experienced researchers to help BF in assessing and investigating  this very important subject in great detail looking back and forward. You won’t get the details unless you, the people, get it yourselves.

 

 

 

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We have received a note from an Ocean Grover who wishes to remain anonymous.  His/her composition is brief, but despite that, it is important and it is one of those quality-of-life issues that no one has spoken about publicly in the past, on this blog.

The author said, in an email, “There is a dilemma on my street and I’m hoping to get some feedback from other Grovers on how to handle it in a ‘humane’ manner (without using my name).”
So here we go again: there’s always something, and we like when that happens:      PG

“Close Encounters of the Snookie Kind”   By Anonymous.

The new kids on my block are summer week-enders.  So far, the invasion seems to strike from Thursday into Friday. Twice within the past few weeks, I’ve awoken past midnight to the sounds of bass-lines a-bumpin and car doors a-slammin. Drunken laughter and loud voices of male and female minors, old enough to be parent-free and immature enough to wreak havoc on the over forty, slumbering, non-partying, cop-calling neighbors. I realized at daybreak that in my delirious, exhaustive state I actually dropped a loud “F-Bomb” (to quote Paul Goldfinger) out the window. Surrounding neighbors responded in like kind. Instead of acknowledging “Snookies” verbal left hook, I took my pillow and blankies to the spare bedroom in the northwest end. Did I miss something or has Ocean Grove become the new Belmar? How do we make it stop?


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by Steve Mandeville

We want Grovers to tell us their observations and ideas about the March 11 fire. You can post them here or under any of the individual postings. You can click on “comments” below or send an email to pg1425@verizon.net .     PG

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