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Posts Tagged ‘HPC in Ocean GRove’

Ocean Grove 1881. The HPC is supposed to be protecting our history. Why won’t they tell us about the guidelines?  Map source: Old House Guy

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

In December, the HPC, represented by Deb Osepchuk and others got up at a Township Committee meeting and reacted negatively to the idea that their Guidelines would be changed by the Township.  She made a formal statement, part of which was presented before the Committee and part of which was sent to Blogfinger.  Below is a quote from her, and below that is a link to our article about the issue and a link to our January post about duplicity on the part of the HPC.

A quote from the official HPC statement:   “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.”

HPC guidelines cause hysterics

HPC duplicity January 2017

So, after sounding an alarm that was disturbing to many Grovers, the HPC went to ground and vanished from public view as per this issue.  Why won’t the HPC continue the conversation and tell us  (or tell anybody publicly) what is going on with the concerns that they enunciated over 3 months ago?

How about some transparency since historic preservation affects all of us? If any of you know the details, please comment below.

Can the people trust the HPC after this silent treatment?  After all, are they not ultimately working for the people rather than for the shadow government in Neptune?

Will we let our history go slip sliding away?  Here’s Paul Simon live:

 

Editor’s Note.  Since posting this article, we have found a statement in the Committee’s minutes of March 13:

“The Mayor then stated that as Neptune Township continues to strengthen our neighborhoods and seek investment into our community, it’s important that we maintain the integrity of the history that exists within our borders, and our neighborhood’s historic beauty- without stifling progress.

Committeewoman Rizzo and I, along with our Administrator, Engineer and Land Use Director, met with a historic preservation architect to discuss the development of a new Historic Preservation Standards document. The meeting went extremely well and the architect will provide a proposal for professional services. Our Engineer and Land Use Director met with a historic preservation attorney, recommended by the architect. That meeting went well and the attorney will provide a proposal for professional services.

“Our plan is to have both the architect and attorney collaborate with Township officials and others to develop user friendly Historic Preservation Standards that will maintain the integrity of the historic district while streamlining the application and review process.

Once the draft of the Standards is complete a public forum will be held for review of the draft document prior to formal introduction. Our timeline for this process is to have the draft document completed by September; a public forum to be held in October; introduction and adoption of the Standards in November.”

The bold face portion above  is ours.

We wonder if the HPC will be part of the conversation noted above.    What is really behind this effort to change the Guidelines?   What is the truth?    Is this really a power grab by developers and politicians who are not shy about compromising our historic district?—-PG @Blogfinger

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

One month ago we began reporting on the efforts of Neptune Township to change the  guidelines that the HPC uses to protect Ocean Grove’s historic designations.

At the Township meeting,  Dec 12, 2016, where those new guidelines were presented, members of the HPC expressed serious concern when they went to the microphone to protest.  But those comments were unofficial, and Deborah Osepchuk, the chairperson of the Commission, promised to review all the changes and to present an official HPC response.

 On Dec. 13, we posted an article about the meeting and we said, “The HPC itself made no formal announcement about their opinions, but it is our understanding that they are not pleased with the changes.  Don’t they have an obligation to inform the OG public about their concerns?”   Later that day, the HPC voted to draft a statement speaking out against the guidelines.

The Neptune Twp. web site says this about the HPC:     “The current members of the HPC are dedicated to the goal of sharing information about the benefits of preserving Ocean Grove’s heritage and to ‘Recapture the Spirit of Ocean Grove, with all residents.”

At Blogfinger we wrote a series of articles on this subject, calling it “The HPC War” and  we sympathized with the HPC.   We asked Ms. Osepchuk  to send us the official HPC response for our readers to see. She said she would.

The next day she did an about-face and said that she would not provide BF with the requested information  on advice from the HPC  attorney .  The legal reason given was unbelievable, and we posted a piece on 12/16 on the subject of the “silent treatment” offered by the HPC.

We urge our viewers to re-read that post (linked below)  and to especially read the comments:

 https://blogfinger.net/2016/12/16/hpc-muzzled-no-more-public-statements-to-the-media/

Ms. Osepchuk said that she was not allowed to communicate with the media, but if you look at the Coaster on-line, you will find an in-depth interview with the HPC dated Dec. 14, 2016.  The HPC had indeed made up its mind . The Coaster reported that: “HPC Chairperson Deborah Osepchuk said the Commission was ‘absolutely against the changes.’”

So what we have here is duplicity on the part of the HPC. *

We contacted the Chairperson again a few days ago and inquired if there was any progress regarding the guidelines issue.  She said that there was none and she didn’t mention that there was an official HPC position and that the matter had been discussed with the Home Owners Association and with the Coaster.   This is deceit by omission.

She also didn’t tell us that the HPC would present their official position regarding “the HPC War” to the HOA meeting next week.   Instead she said, “We’ll be talking preservation and the importance of guidelines at that meeting.”

It looks like the lawyer for the HPC advised them to specifically ignore Blogfinger,  but that it was perfectly OK to give out the information to the Coaster and to the HOA.  Is that possible?  Maybe that lawyer should comment here about what seems to be atrocious legal advice to the HPC to selectively ignore a request for information from a member of the press.

 The HPC is an arm of the Neptune Township government and its denial of our request appears to be a violation of the Freedom of Information Act and a rude stiff-arm to the only media source totally devoted to Ocean Grove and totally based in the Grove.

Why would the HPC deny Blogfinger news that belongs to the people of Ocean Grove?  We can speculate, but the bottom line is that 50 people at the HOA meeting will hear the news next week, but we get an average of 5,000 to 7,000 views per week and higher on Blogfinger. 

 The only explanation is  fear—they don’t want to expose their opinions to the scrutiny of the BF  viewers,  because we allow you-the-people to challenge them in our comments section.

This is disgraceful, and it puts the HPC in an alliance  with the untrustworthy HOA and with the Coaster—a publication that could care less about our town.  I used to admire the HPC, but no more. Blogfinger will watch them with suspicion.  There’s something fishy going on over there.

*Dictionary.com     Duplicity is deceitfulness in speech or conduct, as by speaking or acting in two different ways to different people concerning the same matter; double-dealing.

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