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Posts Tagged ‘derelict houses’

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1.   A last-ditch effort is afoot to save the derelict house at 14 Spray Avenue. We reported recently that the Township had condemned this old house – classified as one of Ocean Grove’s “key structures” —  and that it probably would have to be torn down. But not so fast! Now comes word that a member of the family that owns the property wants to make emergency repairs and then renovate the building. Also, we are told, a prospective buyer is interested in rehabbing the place. Both the current owner and the potential buyer were told that repairs would have to be made very soon or the Township Committee will schedule a demolition hearing. Neighbors have been complaining about the condition of 14 Spray since at least 2009. The owner has made some corrections, but a recent inspection showed the building to be in a hazardous condition. The above information comes to us from Bill Doolittle, the head of code and construction, via Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn.

2.  Neptune police have charged Michael Barrett, 29, of Heck Avenue, Ocean Grove, with stealing a credit card and making charges on it. Police said Barrett entered a neighbor’s unlocked car, took the credit card, used it for purchases and then replaced it in the car, hoping thereby to avoid detection. The crime took place on April 7, according to police. The victim got wise when the bank reported suspicious transactions against her account. Barrett was released after posting bail.

3. Back in January, we reported that the Neptune Zoning Board had given permission for the owner of 6½ Surf Avenue to further encroach into Ocean Grove’s famous “flared setback” area. (For that article, go here.) But on Tuesday the owner’s attorney, Jennifer Krimko, informed the Historic Preservation Commission that this further encroachment would not happen. The run-down two-family structure is about to be rehabbed. The front porch already intrudes 1.69 feet into the flare — a so-called “pre-existing nonconformity” — and the rehab was to include second-floor porch structures that would compound that intrusion. Both the next-door neighbors and the HPC had strenuously objected to this, and on Tuesday Krimko told the HPC that the architect had altered the original plans. Both the HPC and the neighbors said they were pleased.

4. Ocean Grove Neighborhood Watch reports the following recent crime incidents. A bicycle was stolen from the area of 20 Lake Avenue. Someone stole personal items from an unlocked vehicle in the area of 130 Clark Avenue. Someone entered an unoccupied apartment in the 80 Heck Avenue area and stole personal items. And a thief assaulted a man in the area of Lake Avenue and stole his briefcase.

5. A neighbor reports that as of Wednesday painting has finally begun at 24 McClintock Street. (They’re painting it bluish-gray.) On February 16, under legal pressure from the Township, the absentee owner of this notoriously dilapidated OG house entered into a court agreement to fix all outstanding maintenance violations. Subsequently, repairs were made to the porch and windows. Now, it seems, the painting that was promised will also get done. For background, click here.

6. Another bit of crime news: Dayshaun Cooper, arrested on January 6 for burglarizing a home in the 100 block of Abbott Avenue, was released from Monmouth County Jail on Tuesday. The reason for release: his sentence has been served.  Cooper, 20, entered the Abbott Avenue house on October 17, police said, and stole two televisions. His last known residence was on Adams Street in Asbury Park.

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By Charles Layton

14 Spray is on the list of Ocean Grove's "key structures." Photo by Charles Layton

It looks like the run-down house at 14 Spray Avenue will have to be torn down.

Neptune Township’s head of code and construction, Bill Doolittle, has condemned the property, and according to Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn the Township Committee will soon hold a demolition hearing.

Neighbors have been complaining about the state of this derelict home since at least 2009. For the past year the Township has sought to induce the absentee owner to correct long-standing code violations. Despite limited funds, the owner has struggled to comply with various code department and court orders.

The house, built in 1895, is one of Ocean Grove’s “key structures,” meaning it is listed in the Township’s Master Plan as being of special architectural and historical importance. Although some cosmetic improvements have been made, the house is said to be in very bad condition on the inside.

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By Charles Layton

The unoccupied and run-down house at 78 South Main Street remains a problem for Neptune Township and Ocean Grove.

The owner, Eve Annenberg of New York City, was back in Municipal Court on Thursday. Her lawyer argued that Annenberg was short of money and that she should be given credit for having done some painting and other needed repairs. Township Attorney Gene Anthony said the Township had given her enough breaks already and that the work she had done was not enough.

Last April the Township cited Annenberg for code violations. In June she pleaded guilty, was fined $500 and agreed to bring the property up to code standards within 30 days. In October the Township had her back in court, where her attorney told Judge Robin Wernik that she had been undergoing chemo treatments for cancer and had been distracted. Wernik fined her another $350 on that occasion and gave her 60 days to make repairs.

This Thursday she drew another $400 fine from Wernik and was given three months to make all needed repairs. Anthony told me that if she does not live up to this latest court order within the three-month time limit, “new complaints will be filed and there will be no suspension of fines.”

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1. Effective March 1, Neptune Township Public Works will no longer collect e-waste curbside. All computers, monitors, laptops, TVs, servers, printers, stereos, VCRs, DVDs, cell phones and other such devices will have to be dropped off at the Neptune Township Recycling Center, which is at 2201 Heck Avenue. Public Works Director Wayne Rode, in an email announcement, said the policy change was “to protect our workers and the public from recycling thieves, who are breaking into electronic items at the curb and leaving behind what may be considered a hazardous waste.” The Recycling Center will only accept TVs and computer monitors, Rodes said, if the picture tube is not smashed and is still intact with all components. “Scrap parts from dismantled TVs/monitors, computers etc. are not eligible for the Neptune Township E-Waste Recycling Program,” he said.

2. The notoriously dilapidated house at 91 Cookman Avenue should be completely restored and ready to go on sale in about six months. So says Jack Green, the builder who purchased it last June. Green got the Historic Preservation Commission’s blessing this week to proceed with the work. “Hopefully we can submit plans [to the Township] in about two to three weeks,” he said on Friday. Once he gets a building permit, he said, it will probably take another five months or so to finish the job. “Jack’s plans include restoring all original elements when possible and replicating those that are beyond help,” said Deborah Osepchuk, who chairs the HPC. “There will be an addition added to the rear in place of the sheds currently there.” Although the HPC had balked at a previous proposal, submitted by Green in November, this week’s revised plan met with approval. “All in all, a home run,” Osepchuk said. The house, which dates back at least to 1891, is considered one of Ocean Grove’s “key structures,” which means it is of special architectural and historic significance.

3. Ocean Grovers Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster had their pictures on the front page of the Asbury Park Press on Friday. The photo shows them in Trenton, applauding passage of the state gay marriage bill. Bernstein and Paster are co-chairs of Ocean Grove United. To see the photo online, go here.

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By Charles Layton

On Thursday, under legal pressure, the owner of one of Ocean Grove’s worst derelict houses agreed in court to correct all outstanding maintenance violations — except for painting — within one week. The court gave him a longer deadline, 90 days, to get the painting done.

The agreement did not address whatever problems may exist in the interior of the unoccupied house at 24 McClintock Street, although those problems may be extensive. Asked about those problems, the owner’s attorney, Jennifer Krimko said, “We don’t know yet what we’re going to do for the future. All we know is we’re going to be compliant with the agreement.”

Neighbors petitioned the Township about 24 McClintock last June, saying the place was an eyesore and that they feared a fire might break out and spread to other homes. Later that month, owner Jason Richelson of Brooklyn, NY, entered into a court agreement in which he paid a $1,000 fine and promised to correct all maintenance violations within six months. That deadline expired the last week of December, with no repairs having been made.

On Thursday, the Township’s attorney, Gene Anthony, told Municipal Court Judge Robin Wernik that progress had been made in recent days, but “I still feel he’s in violation.” After Richelson admitted to Wernik that he had violated his June agreement, she accepted a new plea agreement under which Richelson was fined an additional $500, he promised to have the house painted within 90 days, and he promised to have all other required maintenance work to the house’s exterior completed within one week. Krimko said the longer deadline for painting was necessary because of the weather.

About two weeks ago, with a new court date having been scheduled, maintenance work was finally begun on the home, including the repair of windows and the front porch. Krimko said Thursday that Richelson has also received the Historic Preservation Commission’s permission to repaint the house in the same existing shade of light blue.

Lynn Merry, who collected 29 names of concerned neighbors on a petition last spring, was in the courtroom during the hearing. She said she viewed the plea agreement as “positive progress, assuming he follows through with the outside repairs.” However, she said, “As I see it, we still have a potential fire hazard back there. It remains an abandoned house. A new coat of paint will not make me feel any safer.”

The original list of maintenance violations cited by Neptune Code Enforcement included broken windows, rotted porch posts and other structural members, broken shingles, damaged eaves, door and window frames in disrepair, loose and rotting materials on exterior walls, and problems with gutters and downspouts.

Even if all the cited problems are corrected, the future of 24 McClintock remains in doubt. No Township official has ever inspected the building’s interior, and since the house has stood unoccupied and in disrepair for years, its interior problems are thought to be serious. An ad for the property on the real estate site Zillow.com contains this caveat for potential buyers: “Only builders should consider [buying this property] because it needs to be rebuilt completely.” Local builder/realtor Jack Green, who used to be the agent for this property, told us: “The whole house is gutted on the inside. It’s just two-by-fours.”

There is a sign on the front of the house that reads “For Sale By Owner” and gives a New York City phone number.

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By Charles Layton

It’s been 29 months since Neptune Township cited the owner of the unoccupied house at 24 McClintock Street for maintenance violations, including rotted porch posts, broken windows and lack of paint.

Recalculating…

It’s been eight months since the Historic Preservation Commission noticed that none of those repairs had been made and asked the Township to revisit the problem. It’s also been eight months since 29 neighbors, in a signed petition, told Township officials they feared the place could catch fire and cause a conflagration.

Recalculating…

It’s been a little over seven months since the owner, Jason Richelson of Brooklyn, NY, paid a $1,000 fine in Municipal Court and promised to remedy all of the cited problems by Christmas week of 2011.

Recalculating…

It’s been a month and a half since Richelson reneged on that court agreement. The neighbors said he had made no repairs at all, not even replacing the broken window panes.

The front porch as it looked on Monday afternoon. Photos by Charles Layton

However, Lynn Merry, the organizer of the neighbors’ petition, looked across the street last Friday and saw a guy from Sawbucks Construction replacing broken window panes. “This was the first human sighting I have seen at the property for three years,” she said.

I dropped by on Monday and found the Sawbucks man prying out rusted nails in order to remove rotten boards on the front porch. He told me he intended to fix the porch, and that he’d probably keep working for at least a few more days, but that he didn’t know what the owner’s eventual plans might be.

Richelson is due for another court hearing on Thursday of next week, at which time the Township’s attorney, Gene Anthony, has said he intends to ask the Municipal Court judge to declare Richelson in default of his June plea agreement, impose another $1,000 fine and perhaps take further action. One possibility could be for the Township to declare the house in imminent danger of collapse so it could be demolished. That course would require further procedural steps, including a hearing before the Township Committee.

Although my phone calls to Richelson in Brooklyn have not been returned, and I don’t know his situation, it seems clear that his investment in this property was a sad mistake. He purchased it in 2005 for $400,000, with a 30-year mortgage of $380,000. He has had the property on the market in recent years, but it has not found a buyer. And the repairs now being made would seem to fall far short of the total rehab that would appear to be required.

The house is currently listed on the real estate site http://www.zillow.com with the following notation: “Attention Builders. We need to move this house. All offers will be entertained. Only builders should consider because it needs to be rebuilt completely. It is only 1 block from the beach though so you could build something quite nice.” The ad includes an estimated value (or “Zestimate”) of $397,900. — CL

UPDATE, Feb. 8: Last week’s Coaster quoted Mayor Randy Bishop as saying that this property was in foreclosure. That report, it turns out, was in error. We asked various Township officials if they could confirm the report of foreclosure, and on Wednesday Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn informed us that taxes on the house are current through the first quarter of 2012 and that the Township has no record of any foreclosure on 24 McClintock.

Now it's fixed.

This window pane had been busted for at least three years.

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By Charles Layton

Rear view of 35 Embury. Photo by Charles Layton

We have learned that one of Ocean Grove’s worst derelict buildings — the home at 35 Embury Avenue — has been purchased by a Long Branch company and that it most likely will be torn down.

The closing took place last Friday. Purchase price was said to be $205,000.

A permit would be required to demolish the property, but people both in and out of the Township government seem to agree that the building is unsafe and should be torn down.

On August 11, then-owner Beatrice Albano of Brooklyn, NY, pleaded guilty in Municipal Court to maintenance violations and agreed to correct the problems within two months. However, on August 30 Neptune Township’s Construction Department issued an unsafe structure notice for the property. Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn said at the time that Bill Doolittle, head of Construction, did not believe the building could be saved.

The unoccupied house is quite large. According to real estate records it has 13 bedrooms and three bathrooms. It has rotted wood throughout. Huge areas lack paint and boards have pulled loose, leaving large cracks and holes for rain to enter the building.

Local attorney William Gannon told me that he had the opportunity to go on a walk-through inspection of the place a couple of months ago and “it is in very bad structural condition.” Asked what the problems are, Gannon said, “You name it.” He said the floors were so unsafe that he could not even complete his inspection.

Another person we spoke to who had been inside the place said it had been neglected for so long that pigeons and seagulls were nesting in there, with all of the filth that implies. “Horrible” was this witness’s general description.

People familiar with the sale say that the buyer intends to build a single-family home, assuming the Township gives permission for demolition of the existing building.

With this sale, 35 Embury joins two other problem buildings in Ocean Grove that seem finally to be on a path toward some kind of resolution. The derelict home at 91 Cookman Avenue was purchased in June by local developer Jack Green, who plans to renovate it. And the absentee owners of another problem building — at 80 Main Avenue — agreed earlier this month to renovate, following a lengthy legal struggle with the Township.

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NOTE: This updates a previous article on this subject.

By Charles Layton

Municipal Court hearings are coming up soon for the owners of 35 Embury Avenue, 78 South Main Street and 24 McClintock Street in Ocean Grove.

In March, Neptune Code Enforcement cited the owner of 35 Embury, Beatrice Albano of Brooklyn, NY, for a variety of serious maintenance violations. The unoccupied house has rotted wood throughout but especially around the windows. Huge areas lack paint, and boards have pulled loose, leaving large cracks and holes for rain to enter the building.

The Township issued a summons in May, and Albano is due in court on Thursday to enter a plea.

The house at 24 McClintock, also unoccupied, has been in violation of maintenance laws for years. Problems have included rotting wood, broken windows, broken shingles and damaged porch rails. In September of 2009 Code Enforcement issued a summons to the owner, Jason Richelson of Brooklyn, but the case became mired in bureaucratic red tape and seemed to have been forgotten until July of 2010, when the Historic Preservation Commission complained to Code Enforcement about the house.

The house at 78 South Main is, by all outward appearances, a shambles. In March of this year Code Enforcement ordered the owner, Eve Annenberg of New York City, to “make all necessary repairs” to bring the building up to code requirements. That has not been done.

Richelson and Annenberg are to appear for a hearing in Municipal Court on June 23.

Richelson, Annenberg and Albano are the latest in a string of owners called into court in recent months over long-standing maintenance problems with unoccupied buildings in Ocean Grove. Others are the owners of 80 Main Avenue, 23 Seaview Avenue (the Park View Inn), 14 Spray Avenue and 96 Lawrence Avenue.

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For those who are keeping score, here are developments on two of Ocean Grove’s worst problem houses.

96 Lawrence Avenue: On Thursday, the owner, Sandra Solly of Farmingdale, pleaded not guilty in Municipal Court to a variety of maintenance violations dating from August of 2009. These include problems with the main roof, the front and side porch roofs, gutters, siding and faded or peeling paint. No date has been set for a trial.

80 Main Avenue: The owners, Mark W. and Hal Ornstein of Howell, had been ordered by the same court to apply simultaneously for permission to demolish the building and for permission to repair it, which would mean replacing rotted wood, painting wood trim and exterior walls, repairing the roof and replacing missing spindles on the front porch. Their application to make repairs contained no concrete plans and was therefore denied as incomplete. Their demolition application to the Historic Preservation Commission was scheduled for a hearing this past Tuesday, but that had to be rescheduled because the owners failed to give public notice as required. A new hearing is being scheduled for June 28.

(Prediction: the HPC will deny the application to demolish 80 Main on the grounds that the building is solid enough to be saved and is a “key structure” in the Historic District. The Township and the court will then, eventually, perhaps after more foot-dragging, force the owners to make the necessary repairs.)

— Charles Layton

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