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Posts Tagged ‘History of the Ocean Grove north end redevelopment plan’

The Brewer Cemetery (1810   Farmingdale ) where the NERP ought to be buried. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©  2015.

By Paul Goldfinger and Jack Bredin of Blogfinger.net

A little historic perspective is now in order since the Township is insisting on pushing their unfortunate ten year-old North End Redevelopment Plan past the citizens and into the reality of a construction zone.  They are determined to move quickly and  to break a variety of rules along the way, and the public be damned.  But why not push this travesty through since they have had a lot of experience doing whatever they please with zoning abominations, architectural design, land use law, and condoization of our little town?

Let’s go back to 2008.  The Neptune Planning Board received a request from the Township  Committee to consider the idea of an Area in Need of Re-development for the long neglected and vacant North End.  The Camp Meeting Association associated with a group of developers called WAVE and conspired to find a way to bypass the single family zoning of that time.

So they decided to exploit a State program designed to bring to life horrible urban land areas, such as the inner city of places like Camden, where nobody wanted to invest and develop.  The program was not intended to help affluent developers such as the CMA and WAVE do away with current local zoning and instead allow them to do pretty much whatever they wished.

The Planning Board had a meeting in 2008 where only 6 of 11 members were present to act on that request. Only 5 “yes” votes were needed to approve the Redevelopment project.   For such an important meeting, 100% of members should have been present.  Were those absences a form of protest?

One of the 5 who would vote “yes” was Denis McCarthy, the President of the OG Homeowners Association.  If he had voted “no” we would have had single family homes over there a long time ago.   But he voted “yes,” and the Committee accepted those 5 “yes” votes and went ahead and allowed that Area in Need of Redevelopment.

Fast forward to 2011.  There was no progress at the North End, so the OGHOA, instead of insisting that the NERP be abandoned, met with the CMA to ask that the project be scaled back.  Then Randy Bishop presented that idea to the Township, but the historic reality is that the HOA had no authority to negotiate anything with anybody regarding that public project.  And, the HOA plan was never officially approved, but they have continued to brag that somehow they made progress.

Now, as you know from our recent articles, a new re-developer has been named called OGNED.  Mayor Williams said publicly at the last Committee meeting that the “OGNED plan” would be approved.    However, there is still only one legal plan extant, and that is the 2008 North End Redevelopment Plan.  The explanation of the current situation and negotiation was presented in such a muddled way at the November meeting, that we called it “gobbledygook” in our last article.

Last night, December 10, 2018, at the Committee meeting, a representative of the OGHOA, Joan Venezia, went to the microphone during the Public Portion to complain that the recent explanations by the Redevelopment lawyer and the Mayor were so confusing that no one at the HOA understood what was going on. Jack Bredin from Blogfinger concurred, as we did in a recent article.

But here is the rub:  After 10 years, the HOA is still supporting the NERP instead of taking the side of reasonable and caring residents.  And, despite 10 years of their failure to accomplish anything meaningful regarding the NERP, they are not embarrassed to say publicly that they don’t know what is going on and that they have not employed any impartial experts to help the community understand the process.

When Ms. Venezia asked the Committee when public hearings will be held on this matter, she was told by Mr. Gadaleta, the Township manager, that the public can be free to ask questions when the HPC has its hearing and when the Board of Adherence has its rubber stamp session.  But, the HPC has no power to rule on the NERP–only the architectural drawings, and the Board of Adherence will not challenge any of this despite what public statements are made by Grover residents.

At Blogfinger we are still doing our best to stay on top of the situation and to demand that the fraudulent Area in Need of Redevelopment be abandoned, with a return to single family zoning, a decision that would be consistent with the Master Plan in this historic town.

VALERIE MASTERSON    from the soundtrack of the marvelous movie “Quartet.”  This is from Gilbert and Sullivan’s the Mikado.

“I think you ought to recollect
You cannot show too much respect
Towards the highly titled few;
But nobody does, and why should you?”

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Light, air, and open space is what we want at the North End.   Photo by Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff in Ocean Grove, NJ. ©

 

By Jack Bredin, reporter/researcher and Paul Goldfinger, Editor.  Blogfinger.net

Let’s review some of the background of the North End Redevelopment Plan and then bring us all up to date.  At the heart of this post is the Township Committee meeting of October 22, 2018.

Redevelopment is a public project. A developer does not become a Redeveloper with the authority to develop an “area in need of redevelopment” until they have signed a contract with a Township called a Redevelopers Agreement. In Neptune Township there are “areas in need of redevelopment”, but there are no officially approved redevelopers.    What went wrong, and how can this happen?

In 2005, and again in 2008, at a time after redevelopers were selected by the Township for two large projects, the Mayor’s Redevelopment Committee went into executive session behind closed doors to negotiate Redevelopment  Agreements for:

  1.  West Lake Avenue in Midtown
  2. North End in Ocean Grove

But the choice of redevelopers was done out of sequence in the Grove, and Redevelopers Agreements were ever finalized.   The Township should have waited for the Township Attorney to first negotiate and have signed the Redevelopers Agreements before selecting anyone as a Redeveloper.

These agreements would have provided  the Township Committee with guaranteed provisions to insure the timely construction of the redevelopment projects, the qualifications, and the financial capabilities and financial guarantees of the redeveloper (s) before the Committee selected a Redeveloper for either project.

Signing a Redevelopers Agreement would usually take place at a special 10 am meeting on the same day the Redeveloper is officially selected by resolution.  In the event that a developer does not sign an agreement within 10 days of being selected, he should be dismissed.

Ten years ago, our Governing Body did not properly vet their Redeveloper friends for the North End of OG (CMA and WAVE,)  and after being appointed as the only horses in a horse race, they never crossed the finish line due to the fact that they could not come up with the necessary money and then they all backed out.  Thus the North End Plan was never implemented.

As a result of that failure, the Mayor’s Redevelopment Committee is technically still in executive session for all these years and that is why the Mayor’s Committee will not now reveal any information to the public.   And thus there are still no Redevelopers for these two projects.

Now, after 10 years of nothing being developed through the redevelopment process, and while everything is being developed all around us by “general development,” Dr. Brantley said, “I think we have to review all the redevelopment projects,” and then the Township hired a “special redevelopment attorney”  for the unenviable job of trying to pull these projects out of the mud.

Shortly after that, this past month, our new Mayor, Nicholas Williams, reports the following: “Thanks to the non-stop work of our Redevelopment Committee, residents will soon be hearing about two major investments that will transform our community for the better…..”

And then, like magic, there appears on the agenda of the October 22, 2018 Township Committee meeting, a Resolution, No. 18-369, regarding the West Lake Avenue project in Midtown.  The Resolution was approved, appointing BAW Development, LLC, as a “Conditional Redeveloper” while also approving a “Pre-Redevelopers Agreement.”  This agreement is for a 6 month period of time when a formal Redevelopment Agreement will be signed.

We believe that this so called “Pre-Redevelopment” process is not permitted by State Standards, Municipal Land Use Law, and Redevelopment Law.   We think that this new process has been invented to find an end-run around the usual legal procedures to move such projects along and which have failed so far in Neptune Township. In addition, this maneuver will prevent any other developers from bidding on these projects while the Township dithers.

The new Redevelopment Attorney said at the meeting that they will use the same process with the North End project in OG.   That is why we are extrapolating what was said about West Lake to what will likely happen for the North End.

We think that the Mayor’s Redevelopment Committee is failing we the people by remaining silent.  Where is the transparency?

Ocean Grovers:  Keep your eyes and ears open as this situation evolves—our local government seems to be placing the best interests of Grovers at the bottom of the pile.

 

MUDDY WATERS:

 

 

 

 

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The NERP is nostalgic for the old North End (1916 in this photo)/  There were large structures, concession stands down the middle, people congestion--and beyond is the Casino with its own chaos.     From Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards by Bell and Flynn.

The NERP waxes nostalgic for the old North End (1916 in this photo) and uses that era as justification for the commercialization of the North End today.    There were large structures, concession stands down the middle, crowds and congestion–and beyond, further north,  is the Asbury Park Casino with its own chaos. Luckily people then came by train.     From Ocean Grove in Vintage Postcards by Bell and Flynn

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

Many Grovers have privately thanked Blogfinger for providing information about the NERP that has been kept under wraps by our elected officials.   The citizens are very concerned.  The Township Committee does not bring up this subject at their public sessions. It would be much better if the Township Committee would have a town hall meeting, committed to transparency,  to update OG citizens about the North End plan and to answer all  questions.

There  are  several documents which Ocean Grovers should know about. Some quotes from those  have already been posted, while others have not been revealed on this site…yet.    The quotes  will help you see our concerns which we have been reporting about regularly since April 2015, and intermittently back another five years.   You can read the entire documents if you wish  (see links and sources below).  The italics are ours.

As we have pointed out, the most current relevant document is the 2015 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)  between WAVE and the OGCMA  which we have recently obtained and reported on  to a limited extent.

We  offer quotes from the Neptune Township Master Plan  (revised in 2011,)  the North End Redevelopment Plan (  NERP 2008,)  the Memorandum of Understanding (MUO–April 2015), and The Lomax Consulting Group Client Project Directory (2011-2015)

 The Neptune Twp Master Plan — 2011 update: 

“According to the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law, a zoning ordinance generally must be “substantially consistent” with the municipality’s master plan.”

“The purpose of the Ocean Grove North End Redevelopment Plan   (NERP, 2008)  is to reclaim the North End site as the northern anchor to Ocean Grove, while providing for new opportunities for employment and housing within the Township, as well as enhanced public access to the Wesley Lake waterfront and the oceanfront and beach areas of the Township.”  ( This quote from the Neptune Master Plan  was copied straight out of the North End Redevelopment Plan of 2008, written by T &M Planners and WAVE.)”

“A goal of historic preservation in Ocean Grove  is to preserve the historic character, livability and property values of historic structures and neighborhoods by maintaining and rehabilitating historic housing, preventing the deterioration and demolition of historic structures, and encouraging new construction that is compatible in scale and design to the physical character of the surrounding neighborhood.”

“The decline of the hotels and rooming houses that previously provided summer lodging gave rise to conversion to multi-family residential uses or provided additional rooming and boarding uses for the indigent. These changes had deleterious effects on Ocean Grove.”

“Ordinance changes prohibiting similar conversions to multi-family use have limited additional deterioration and facilitated a renaissance of investment for single family housing*, bed and breakfasts and historic hotels. These types of uses, in conjunction with and as shaped by the unique lay-out and civic design of Ocean Grove are more appropriate to the scale and character of the district and provide an appropriate type of growth and evolution that preserves the character and fabric of Ocean Grove.”

“Through these efforts the Township has demonstrated a strong commitment to the protection of all properties designated as having architectural and historic significance.”

NERP :      In the NERP  (2008 North End Redevelopment Plan) there is a section designed to explain why the single -family home provision of the Master Plan is going to be ignored. Below is the introduction to that effort to ignore the Master Plan:

“While the Township Committee recognizes that there may be inconsistencies* relative to the multifamily expansion as referenced in the Land Use Plan element, these inconsistencies must be balanced against the advancement of the overall goals of the Township’s redevelopment and land use planning policies and the manner in which the North End Redevelopment Plan advances these objectives.

“The Township committee also finds that while the purpose of the Master Plan recommendation limiting the expansion of multifamily housing in Ocean Grove is intended to protect the predominantly single family residential character of Ocean Grove, the North End Redevelopment Plan is surrounded by a mix of both single family and multifamily land uses and was historically used as hotel and boardwalk commercial uses.”

Lomax Consulting Group Draft “Client Project Directory” :  First created June 24, 2011, but updated on November 28, 2011, and May 27, 2015.

This “WAVE at North End Destination Report” was made for WAVE by the Lomax Group, and copies were sent to a list of 14 “development team consultants,” but missing from that copy list were representatives from Neptune Township, even though this project is a public project, and the Township is supposed to be in charge  (representing the citizens of Ocean Grove).     Also missing from the list is the Camp Meeting Association.

This list of consultants was created for William P Gannon, Esq. representing WAVE.  The other investment principals of WAVE are not revealed, but this report suggests that WAVE is in charge, not the Township and not the CMA.

We will disclose the consultants names in the future, but there is one entry that you should see now:  “Construction Manager/Developer:  Fields Development Group, One Henderson Street, Hoboken, NJ 070030.  This revelation suggests that this company will be the one to actually redevelop the North End.

Memorandum of Understanding (April 28, 2015.) :  Prepared  by Jennifer S Krimko, Esq of Ansell Grimm and Aaron, PC of Ocean New Jersey. This “MOU” is between WAVE and the Camp Meeting Association.  Neptune Township is not part of this understanding even though the Committee is supposed to be in charge of this redevelopment project. The CMA and WAVE are the only ones to sign this MUO, and they did so on April 28, 2015.

In January 2007, Wesley Lake Village Enterprises  (“WAVE”) and OGCMA executed a Developer’s Agreement which set forth the terms by which WAVE and the OGCMA would serve as co-redevelopers of the Subject Property.

So, the NERP, which is presented as coming from the Neptune Township Committee, actually originates with WAVE in 2007 , before the Neptune Committee and the Neptune Planning Board ever got to consider the Plan.

“OGCMA will no longer serve as the co-redeveloper of the subject property, and WAVE shall acquire OGCMA’s co-redeveloper status by assuming OGCMA’s co-redeveloper roll.”    Isn’t it interesting that the two parties to the MUO have made amendments and are announcing this redeveloper change, without the formal participation of the Committee or the Committee’s representatives?

“OGCMA will permit WAVE to conduct and complete a Phase 1 (and, as applicable, a Phase II ) environmental review of the Subject Property, with such review to be completed by WAVE within thirty (30) days from the execution of the MOU. ”

“All engineering and architectural subdivision, site and elevation plans for the proposed Plan “C” development shall be prepared by WAVE at its expense, and shall be approved by the OGCMA in advance of submission to any governmental board or agency.”

“This Memorandum of Understanding shall remain in effect until the date when the amended Developer’s Agreement is executed by the parties. ”

If anyone wants to have a copy of any of these documents, you can get them from the Township Clerk by filling out an OPRA form.  It’s easy to do.  You can also find the NJ Redevelopment Land Use Law and the NERP via Google. Some of these can also be found on the Neptune Township web site.

Editor’s Notes:  

Although the Neptune Township Committee is supposed to be managing this public project ( according to NJ Land Use Law), it seems clear that the real party in charge is WAVE.

The Township Committee has the power to end this entire process now because of the suspicious nature of the situation.  The zoning changes and special designation is old news already and seems to be set in stone, but there are current issues that expose the project to charges that the law has been violated, including the new revelation in the MUO that WAVE made plans in 2007 for the North End Redevelopment before the  Towship Committee approved the plan in 2008.      WAVE cannot prepare a plan for a public project and then appoint itself a co-redeveloper, 5 months before the Township committee determined the land to be “an area in need of redevelopment.”    In addition, since WAVE and the CMA decided that they could develop the North End with private funding, they should not have received the special designation of an area in need of redevelopment

And, regarding  that WAVE/CMA  re-development plan of 2007, that is the one that wound up in the NERP.   The planner of the NERP was merely following orders as was the Township Committee.     So who exactly was the  mayor of Neptune in 2008 when the NERP was turned into law?  Was it Randy Bishop or was it William Gannon III?

Then there is the problem with the Pavilion Building’s  (#4 Boardwalk) receiving a subdivision designation on the tax map when no such subdivision ever legally occurred.  That beach is public property, and only the DEP can determine its use, and, in addition, there can be no subdivision when the land does not front on an actual street. The Boardwalk is not a street.

The part of the NERP quoted above tries  to  justify bypassing the single-family* home goal of the Master Plan by calling the NERP a “unique circumstance” by virtue of the history of the North End. However that large commercialized and congested  North End of the early 20th century didn’t  kick in until 1911 when the hotel was built.  Before that, it was a swimming, fishing,  and recreational space for tourists and residents.

The historic OG that most of us recognize was happening from 1869-1900. The NERP historic argument says that the North End Hotel, movie theatre and other commercial amenities from the early part of the 20th century represents authentic OG history.  That is a distortion designed to latch onto a “historic” basis for dumping the existing zoning.

But now, we are in the 21st century, and who gets to say that duplicating the history of a commercial zone from over a hundred years ago, characterized by major congestion and loss of openness,  should be considered desirable for the future of this town in the 21st century?  Back then, everybody took the train to OG.    The Township and the OGHOA approved this historic nonsense/rationale in 2008, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t complain about it in 2015.

As for the NERP being “set in stone,” that may be so, unless some investigative body decides to look over the entire history of the North End Redevelopment Plan.  It could happen.

Below are links to the complete  Neptune Twp. Master Plan and the NERP of 2008 .   In addition, if you want to review all the pioneering articles in Blogfinger over the last five years, just look at the top of our home page to find the search box.  Then type in “North End Plan” or any other key words that interest you.

http://www.neptunetownship.org/sites/default/files/archive/documents/2012MasterPlan/01-13-12_Comprehensive%20Master%20Plan_Neptune%20Township_Amended%20January%202012.pdf

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

CREDIT:  Jack Bredin  (pronounced Bray-din)  of Ocean Grove, researcher for Blogfinger.

LIZA MINELLI:

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View north from Ocean Grove. 1967. By Paul Goldfinger  ©

View north from Ocean Grove. 1967. By Paul Goldfinger ©

BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA

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Condolandia  at the OG North End  (As seen from Surf Ave.)  Blogfinger photo. March, 2015.

Condolandia at the OG North End (As seen from Surf Ave.) Blogfinger photo. March, 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger

For years the North End of Ocean Grove remained undeveloped by the OG Camp Meeting Association, the owners of the property. The land there was zoned for single family homes, and that seemed to be appropriate considering the Master Plan’s sympathetic attitude regarding the historic district.

In 2007, the Neptune Township Planning Board agreed that the Township should establish a “zone in need of redevelopment” at the North End, but they did not argue for a change in zoning.  The Township then ordered a redevelopment plan to be drawn up.

It was the Township Committee which decided that the existing zoning should be changed to accommodate the new North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP) which would permit multiple uses for those 5+ acres including condominiums, single family homes, a hotel, commercial components and an underground parking garage.

Overriding the existing single family zoning was allowed under state law* when a “zone in need of redevelopment” has been declared. The goal of such zones is to bring back portions of New Jersey cities and towns which were considered to be so blighted that only government could restore those areas for the good of the city/town.

What did the Neptune Township Planning Board find that would justify the new designation? If you read the NERP plan, you will see a tortuous explanation to justify the new zone as something good for the town, with advantages outweighing disadvantages.

Whatever the rationalizations were, they led to a plan (NERP) that was turned into Neptune law in 2008 and which was supported by the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association, the Historic Preservation Commission and the Camp Meeting Association.

Once that happened, it was supposed to set in motion a sequence of events beginning with the formal choice of a redeveloper by the governing body (Neptune Committee.) That redeveloper was to sign a contract which detailed his obligations. We don’t know if such a contract actually exists.

We know that the redevelopers were chosen, not by the Township, but by the CMA who owns the property. The redevelopers who were named in 2008 consisted of the CMA itself and a group called “WAVE.” The Gannon company has been revealed as part of WAVE, but no other names have been disclosed.

We plan to post a series of articles on how this plan evolved, and the next one will be a review of what happened when the Township approved the redevelopers at a Committee meeting in June, 2008.

Our purpose is to inform the citizens of Ocean Grove as to what happened to bring us to 2015 and to figure out exactly where we stand now.

And then maybe some way can be found to block the commercialization of the North End.

We will also take a look at the Master Plan to see how it compares to the NERP.

By way of introduction, here is a quote from the Neptune Township Master Plan of 2011 regarding Ocean Grove–the “historic district:”

Goal: “To preserve the historic character, livability and property values of historic structures and neighborhoods by maintaining and rehabilitating historic housing, preventing the deterioration and demolition of historic structures, and encouraging new construction that is compatible in scale and design to the physical character of the surrounding neighborhood.”

*   HillWallak.com notes on NJ redevelopment law:     “As part of the plan, the municipality has the power to enact a redevelopment ordinance which can override the existing zoning for the area.”

KATHY BRIER.   This song is dedicated to the OG Home Groaners Association that wanted the NERP in 2008, and now they say otherwise. What a shame they didn’t have the courage to oppose this plan when they had a chance to mobilize the citizens of OG and stand strong.

From Boardwalk Empire, HBO hit series.  Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks won a Grammy for the soundtrack.

 

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