Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Chambers comments on parking issues’

Rev. Stokes, the first CMA president, didn’t have to worry about zoning. Here he is taking a dim view of the Grove on a foggy 21st century day. Paul Goldfinger photo 2015. ©

By Kevin Chambers, Ocean Grove resident and activist.

The State Legislature enacted the first zoning enabling and planning acts in 1928 and 1930, respectively. Within these acts the state mandated that municipalities may not exercise their authority in ways which conflict with authority exercised by county, state, or federal governments.

Since 1928, this act has made it illegal to land-lock* any property within the state of NJ. In other words, the Township was banned from writing into its zoning an ordinance that prohibits curb cuts or driveways. Also this prohibited the OGCMA from prohibiting any person from crossing their property to access their lot.

When the state enacted RSIS in 1968, it further required that all municipalities rewrite their zoning ordinances requiring that the definition for a conforming lot must now include on-site parking. This barred Neptune from using the 30×60 foot lot size or 1800 square foot lot size as a conforming lot size definition within its Master Plan and zoning ordinance. Since that time, Neptune has been in contempt of court with each of its hearings dealing with Ocean Grove.

Regardless of the illegal zoning Neptune has established for OG, state zoning law still requires parking, through either the ordinance or through a variance.

All applications for new construction must seek a variance within Neptune if their lot is less than 5,000 square feet, which is the legal definition for a conforming single family lot in Neptune. But no matter whether a variance is granted, Neptune’s zoning must include the right within its zoning to have a driveway. It cannot deny a driveway within its zoning; that is in violation of law and in contempt of court.

Kevin Chambers

*In real estate, “landlocked” refers to a property that has no frontage or direct access to a public street, so the only way on or off the property is to cross land owned by someone else. Usually, a landlocked property gains street access through a legal permission called an easement.


“Long as I remember the rain been coming down.
Clouds of myst’ry pouring confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages, trying to find the sun;
And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain.”



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Editor’s Note  (2015) : Kevin Chambers is a long time Ocean Grover who has brought suit against Neptune Township regarding  condominium projects  in town.

Kevin has never, in the past, commented on Blogfinger, but he decided to join the discussion in 2011.

–This article was originally posted on BF in January 2011, but it is as relevant now as it was then.   I think this 2011 post pretty much explains Kevin’s views in 2015, but perhaps we  will  hear from Kevin again now if he wants to bring us up to date with his views on zoning and parking in Ocean Grove.

—Note the interesting comments section from 2011 which can be added to now.

———Paul  Goldfinger . Editor  @Blogfinger

August 2012. Kevin Chambers, and OG histsorian, testifies at the HPC demolition hearing re: Whitfield Hotel on Surf Avenue.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©

August 2013. Kevin Chambers, an OG historian, testifies at the HPC demolition hearing re: Whitfield Hotel on Surf Avenue. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

From Kevin Chambers of Ocean Grove:

The following is to address RSIS and parking in Ocean Grove:

In 1997 the State of New Jersey created the New Jersey Site Improvement Advisory Board that established “Residential Site Improvement Standards” (RSIS). RSIS is a part of the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) that governs all zoning in the state of New Jersey. Every town in the state, including Neptune, was mandated to amend its zoning to conform to RSIS.

Neptune, when amending its Land Development Ordinance in 2000, violated the MLUL and RSIS when it created the Historic District Oceanfront (HD-0) zone.
The Historic District of Ocean Grove, a section of Neptune, is the only development in the entire state, in which the township that governs it refuses to enforce RSIS.

The state wrote three letters informing Neptune that it is required by law to enforce RSIS. Neptune, seeking a way to circumvent the law, created an ordinance that prohibits driveways and curb cuts for Ocean Grove. Believing that the new ordinance gave Neptune the right to ignore RSIS, the Township continued permitting the conversion of unauthorized nonconforming apartments and hotels into condominiums without providing parking.
The Township, still in violation of RSIS, was then forced into seeking a waiver known as the “Special Area Standard” designation from the State. Neptune believed that the designation would permit the Board of Adjustment to continue its abuse of granting improper high density development within Ocean Grove, which in turn has lead to more car congestion on the streets.
The RSIS Board explained to Neptune’s representatives, that if Neptune enforced RSIS within Ocean Grove that it would prohibit improper high density uses that would in turn lessen the density of cars on the streets.

If Neptune acted responsibly and brought its zoning for Ocean Grove into conformity with the MLUL it then wouldn’t need to seek the designation from the state. The enforcement of RSIS would break the vicious cycle of permitting greater density in Ocean Grove at the expense and the detriment to Ocean Grove residents.
Even though all the committee members of the RSIS Board were well aware of Ocean Grove’s problems having visited Ocean Grove, the RSIS Board was forced to deny Neptune the “Special Area Standard” designation since Neptune’s zoning for Ocean Grove was and is in violation of the MLUL.

Even more troubling, Neptune was in violation of the “Open Public Meeting Act” when it sought the designation. Neptune is now required to hold open public meetings in which to provide a legitimate parking study in order to establish a need to seek a waiver from the state. Neptune must also bring Ocean Grove’s zoning into compliance with the MLUL before reappearing before the RSIS Board.

Solving Ocean Grove’s high density and over crowding of the streets doesn’t take “brainpower or innovation;”   it only takes following the law, the very law that every Committee member in the state is sworn to uphold.

To this very day, the Township continues to be in violation of the MLUL and continues to refuse to enforce RSIS. Both were created and designed for the protection of every resident of the state, including the residents of Ocean Grove. Every resident of Ocean Grove should be leery of any township committee person who hinders or who refuses to demand their enforcement.

Kevin Chambers

Editor’s credit:  Top photo was taken at the Historical Society of Ocean Grove Museum.   Blogfinger photo

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By Charles Layton

For the past two weeks, people on this blog have been discussing the interrelated topics of parking, New Jersey land use law, and the conversion of old hotels into condominiums (a trend many of you deplore).

I think I speak for everyone when I say that this stuff is too thorny for amateurs. Most of us haven’t followed the history of zoning, and we don’t know the jargon — RSIS regulations, special area standards — yikes!

Yet, when Kevin Chambers claims, as he did in a posting on January 31, that what Neptune has been doing – letting condos be built with no provision for parking — violates the law, it is our burden as citizens to try to understand what he means.

So I’ve spent the past two days poring over the scores of comments published here, and I’ve also read most of the key documents people have referred to.

If you’ll bear with me, I’ll try to lay out, as simply as possible, what I think it adds up to. Please excuse some of the bureaucratic gobbledygook.  And please, also, understand that I’m no expert; take this with a grain of salt.


Here is the history:

On June 3, 1997, New Jersey gave birth to a body of land use law called Residential Site Improvement Standards. That mouthful is usually shortened to RSIS. These standards deal with sewers, storm water, streets and the like. And they establish rules for how much parking a builder must provide for condos, townhouses, single-family homes — all kinds of residences.

Neptune Township happens to have an ordinance especially for the Historic District of Ocean Grove that conflicts with these state rules. Our ordinance prohibits off-street parking requirements and driveways for new residences. The justification is mainly that driveways, curb cuts and garages erode the historic character of Ocean Grove. There were no cars when this town was founded, so its architecture and town plan made no provision for off-street parking. And if we monkey too much with the town plan, we might lose our Historic District status. It is also argued that Ocean Grove is unusually compact (at least 24 units per acre in most parts of town) and its lots are unusually small (30 feet in width). The argument is that a driveway curb cut severely limits the amount of on-street parking, with the net effect of giving us less parking space overall. (While that argument works for single-family houses, it’s less persuasive when applied to a multi-unit condo development.)

On January 25, 2005, Neptune received a letter from the state Division of Codes and Standards pointing out the obvious — that our local ordinance violates the RSIS and is therefore legally invalid. However, the letter said Neptune could apply for special permission, in the form of what’s called a “special area standard.”

On October 26, 2007, Neptune did apply. It asked the New Jersey Site Improvement Advisory Board, which enforces RSIS, to let it retain its own separate regulations. Its application laid out all the arguments mentioned above.

On February 21, 2008 and again on September 18, 2008 the board held hearings on Neptune’s request.

On September 29, 2009, Neptune received a letter from the chairman of the board stating that there was insufficient evidence to justify a special standard for Ocean Grove. This letter reiterated that the Neptune ordinance was inconsistent with the RSIS and therefore invalid. However, the letter said the board was “willing to work with the Township” if it decided to submit a new or different request.

During all these years of negotiation, of course, quite a number of residences have been built in Ocean Grove, on Ocean Pathway and elsewhere. According to the RSIS law, those residences should have included off-street parking. But, because the buildings followed Neptune’s law rather than state law, no such parking was provided. In fact, by local law, the builders were forbidden to have off-street parking even if they’d wanted it.

How much off-street parking are we talking about? Well, under the RSIS standards, new condo developments must provide room for 1.8 off-street parking spaces for each one-bedroom unit, 2.0 spaces for each two-bedroom unit and 2.1 spaces for each three-bedroom unit. Obviously, the kind of density we’ve seen lately in Ocean Grove condos wouldn’t be possible had the condo builders been required to follow this legal standard. But because Ocean Grove builders continued to follow the local standard, they provided no parking at all, except for parking on the street.

A few Ocean Grovers, most notably Kevin Chambers, have been arguing for years that Neptune was in defiance of the law, and that the practice of allowing new condos without parking should be stopped. Chambers has made some enemies in the course of pressing this case.

But without judging whether all this condoization is good or bad, the historical record does seem to support Chambers’ claim that it’s illegal. And although nobody can now undo what’s already built, surely as citizens we could insist that all future condos provide off-street parking for their residents — unless the state changes its mind and gives Neptune some sort of exemption.

In conclusion, allow me to say that if Township officials, developers or others have a different perspective, or see errors in what’s written here, please give us the benefit of your knowledge. We are trying to feel our way forward on this issue. We are hungry for sound, detailed information. We will gladly correct anything that needs correcting.

Also, since the mother of all Ocean Grove condo projects is the proposed North End Redevelopment, we should point out in closing that the Township has provided, by law, that RSIS standards for off-street parking be followed in that case. That is to say, approximately two off-street parking spaces are required for each residential unit. In addition, the North End plan requires one off-street parking space for each hotel room. The North End is a special case because sites deemed to be “in need of redevelopment” fall outside the normal zoning process. It is the only such special case in Ocean Grove.

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