Posts Tagged ‘HPC guidelines for Ocean Grove’


37 Atlantic Avenue. 2012 Beersheba Award winner. Blogfinger photo ©  This is what it's all about!

37 Atlantic Avenue. 2012 Beersheba Award winner. Blogfinger photo © This is what it’s all about!

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

As noted in our recent posts, the Township Committee wants to pass an ordinance to make major changes in the HPC Guidelines. They placed the proposal on the December 12 agenda giving the HPC and others only a few days to consider the matter.

The document is long and detailed, and it was not marked in a way that would readily reveal the changes. At the meeting, the 1st reading was tabled to a later date to allow proper assessment of the document, but a few OG groups did get to review it, and their response was resoundingly negative, saying that the new guidelines would threaten historic preservation in the Grove.

During the public portion of the meeting, some individuals spoke for the allotted 5 minutes. The one voice that really needed to be heard was that of Deborah Osepchuk, the long-time Chairperson of the HPC. She read a prepared personal statement, but she was cut off when her 5 minutes were up.

We thank her for providing Blogfinger with her complete remarks. We cannot print the entire speech, as it is quite long for us, but we will quote most parts of it, skipping only some of the most technical details:

“In the spring of 2015, Randy Bishop announced at a Township Committee meeting that the HPC Guidelines were going to be revised and submitted to the Township Committee by Sept 1, 2015.

“A sub-committee within the HPC was formed, working through the summer and after review by the entire board, submitted our draft of the revised guidelines to the Township Clerk by Sept. 1, 2015.

“This was the last we heard of them. I sent emails, as did our attorney, asking for information and updates on the guidelines. We received no reply.

“Last Friday, Dec.9, 2016, at 3:35 pm,  I received an email stating that the revised guidelines were not the guidelines we had submitted. I respectfully request that ‘prepared by the Historic Preservation Commission’ be removed from the cover page, and the names of those people responsible for this document be listed instead.

“There is much to be concerned about in this draft, but let me first focus on what I feel is the most damaging to the historic district.

The applicability of said design guidelines shall only be applicable to any portion of the structure that fronts on the street. Side and rear facades that do not front on the street shall not be subject to the guidelines.

The Commissioner described one change where “the word ‘avoid’ used in the original draft in regards to inappropriate architectural elements has been replaced with  the word ‘discouraged’  a total of 37 times.

Also the words “historically inappropriate” have been eliminated. The term “where practicable” has taken its place.

She says, “All of this translates into guidelines that regulate and protect nothing.”

In addition Commissioner Osepchuk notes that a number of provisions in the original have been eliminated including the section on “Historic Flare, a unique and rare example of urban planning—- the key reason for our historic designation.”

(Editor’s note: This is where Ms. Osepchuk had to stop speaking at the meeting, but we continue below:)

“Hot tubs, solar panels, satellite dishes, retaining walls, sheds, roof top construction, chain link fencing, auxiliary structures, etc., are no longer restricted unless they are on the ‘regulated frontage’ of the structure. Then they are merely ‘discouraged.’

“Add to all this, the fact that now homeowners will need to have signed and sealed architectural plans in order to make an application. The HPC has never required this of homeowners.

“Why the sweeping changes? What will they accomplish? Who is responsible or them?

‘The objectives of Ocean Grove District Architectural Guidelines are to preserve the historic architectural integrity, craftsmanship, and heritage of the nationally Designated Historic District and encourage architectural solutions which will “Recapture the Spirit of Ocean Grove.’

“The document dated Oct. 2016 does not accomplish this, its stated purpose. Instead it works at destroying the historic district.

“Property values in Ocean Grove continue to rise. People are renovating, building new and making improvements to their homes in increasing numbers. As of today the HPC has reviewed and approved 249 applications.

“What is the attraction of Ocean Grove? It’s certainly not the parking or the fact that we pay high taxes on land that we don’t even own or that we live on lots that in any other part of Neptune would be considered undersized. Our homes need constant maintenance, since most of them are over 100 years old and we live with the constant threat of fire fueled by the town’s density.

“It is because Ocean Grove looks and feels like no place else…for now.”

Also, this matter is on the agenda for the Dec. 14 Planning Board meeting which Blogfinger will attend.

And, On December 13, 2016, the HPC voted to draft a statement speaking out against the guidelines.  Stay tuned.




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