Posts Tagged ‘North End Plan at the Planning Board 2019’

Site plan dated 11/13/19. Hot off the griddle. Click to enlarge.

Two condo buildings facing Wesley Lake.  HPC : “..resembles a contemporary gated subdivision; isolated and virtually private.”  Click to enlarge the monstrosity.

Retail area tight to the boardwalk.

By Paul Goldfinger and Jack Bredin.  Blogfinger.net

This is what the HPC said in their report of 11/13/19:

“The proposed plan does not demonstrate an in depth understanding of or regard for, Ocean Grove’s character and the need to preserve the town’s ‘sense of place,’ established in its plan.”

OGNED PLAN: 40 room hotel, 49 condos (in two buildings,)  10 single family homes on Spray Avenue, 7,000 square feet of retail on the boardwalk, underground garage on top of which will be built condos and homes, 140 car spaces in the garage for residents only, and 13 surface spaces.

Utilities are available. Homes will cost over $1 million each; condos will start at $800,000.

November 13, 2019. Neptune Township  Municipal Building:

The Planning Board meeting went on for hours, yet the testimony by the developers’ professionals, such as the architect and the engineer, was incomplete.  Others did not get their turn.

The room was crowded.  The content  consisted mostly of technical discussions, for example how many parking spaces will be on Spray Avenue and how will ground water be handled?

Questions  were allowed from the audience,  but only 5 minutes at a time, and the part where citizens can offer opinions was not reached–only questions related to professional testimony were allowed, such as what is the angle of the driveway into the subsurface garage?

Those citizens who went to the mike were mostly concerned with their personal issues, especially parking on their streets near the project.  A few members of the HOA asked questions, but they did not identify themselves as HOA officials.  There were a few angry confrontations between citizens and the Board.

But the big picture, as enunciated by the HPC report conclusion above, was not addressed.

HPC 9-point report

The most worrisome episode during the meeting, was at the beginning when the HPC was attacked before their report was distributed–it never was.

The first one to preemptively strike the HPC was the Township Engineer, LeAnn Hoffman,  who, in a hit-and-run appearance before the Board, certified that the new North End Redevelopment Site Plan is “consistent with” the original Plan of 2008.  The process requires that the two plans be “consistent” with each other.

Hoffman’s hit-man appearance was designed  to add Township credibility to OGNED’s lawyer, Jennifer Krimko, who would appear next in order to make the same assertion.

Why would that assertion be important?  It’s about depriving freedom of speech to criticize the new plan. Do you recall when OGNED wouldn’t allow certain questions to be asked at the HOA meeting?    Evidently, OGNED does not want the HPC report to see the light of day.

According to Krimko, that  “fact” of consistency was unassailable and would “supersede” whatever the HPC had to say.  Krimko said that “the HPC cannot judge the consistency of the two documents.”

In other words, she thinks that the HPC should not be allowed to complain about the details of the new plan, especially regarding the design elements, which is what the HPC report is all about.  She also said that the  “Planning Board cannot complain about the details” either.

According to her, “All challenges are foreclosed.”

In addition, while she was nailing another spike into the heart of the HPC, she said that the HPC “is too late to challenge the plan based on Ocean Grove history.  They should have done that in 2008.”   She also said that the “HPC may not now offer a statement.”

She stated that by signing the Redevelopers Agreement, the Governing Body  (Township Committee) ignored the HPC concerns, and that the signing ends all further discussion about plan details.

But the 9-point HPC report was released only yesterday, so we suspect that the Township Committee and the Planning Board are  ignorant of the HPC report.  (see link above)

So this flagrant attempt to aggressively preemptively shut down the HPC before it has a chance to speak is a vicious tactic to stifle their free speech, and we resent that, regardless of the legal niceties.

The HPC should have gone to that meeting with their lawyer, and the Planning Board Chair should have expressed her outrage at this horrid lawyerly maneuver to suppress the citizens of Ocean Grove.   And by the way, how many of the Planning Board members are from Ocean Grove?  Does that board have any built-in biases?

We believe that the new Plan seriously and illegally disregards elements of the old.  For example, regarding the HPC, the original NERP says, “The Township Committee shall consider the HPC comments.”  (it says “shall” not “may”)

And there are other elements which are not consistent with the original NERP, and that consistency is necessary for the Board to approve the new Plan.

Here is a quote from the HPC:   “The site plan does not follow the historic site plan.  This is contrary to the mandate of the Redevelopment Plan that the site be developed in accordance with the Period of Significance  (late 19th and early 20th century.) Instead it follows the 1930’s development of the North End.”

Because there are inconsistencies with 2008 as well as other standard procedure deficiencies, the PB should not give final approval to this plan. Why rush the process?

This OGNED plan is a conceptional plan and should not therefore receive final approval by the Board.  At Blogfinger we think that final approval should not be given to a conceptual plan.

More to say from Blogfinger:

a. The Township Committee should have sent an official letter to the PB containing the HPC report.  So, 11 years after the original document, this current Committee should have considered the current HPC report.  If the developer can freely change the specifications from 2008, then why can’t the HPC offer an updated opinion?

b. The Township Clerk should have received a schedule of completion of the project and performance guarantees from the developer, and then forwarded them to the Board. Did he?

c.  How can this be approved without DEP  (environmental protection) approval, currently absent.

d. What about the assertion by the Township that the 3+ acres plan consisting of 4 parts  (hotel, condos, retail and houses,) should be considered a single lot with no subdivisions?

In 2008, this was a 5 acre plan—-a minimum size that was required for Redevelopment Zones.  It included the White Whale site, but that is now gone.

So now, in 2019, clearly this part of the 2008 plan is different and not consistent.  Is the Revelopment designation still applicable?

And Lake Avenue is a lot and not a street.  It needs to be subdivided.  The site plan calls it “Wesley Lake Promenade”—a fanciful name, but the official name on the Tax Map is still Lake Avenue, despite what  Google maps  say.

And the east side parcel (which burned down) should be subdivided since it is not.

e. Why was lawyer Krimko allowed to give testimony without being sworn in?  She was doing a lot of interpreting of the new plan.  When the minutes are published they should reveal all that she had to say.

f.  Why is the Planning Board rushing this process along?  This truly is like a freight train.  We doubt that the members of the Planning Board saw this site plan and studied it before this meeting.  The site plan was handed out to some of the audience mid-way in the meeting. This is sloppy.

g. The Board should have a  written report from the Township Planner and a written report from the Planning Board Engineer, Peter Avakian; and from the Town’s pool of special environmental engineers.

h. Where are the easements under the boardwalk which would  be needed to bring utilities over to the western parcel when that is developed. That concern is stated in the 2008 version.  Another inconsistency.

i. Now that the west side White Whale has burned down, the original 2008 NERP, which included that parcel, must be revised in the new Plan including provisions from 2008 regarding off street parking which need to be revised;  and the east parcel is no longer nonconforming—another example where the old and the new plans cannot be identical.

And what about the fact that the eastern parcel is not on a street?  NJ law requires that new construction be on a street.   And they will eventually need an easement to allow access to the eastern parcel for deliveries, garbage collection, etc.  Where is that addressed in the new site plan?  It is found in the old one.

j.   What about the fire lane which is Lake Avenue?   When a big firetruck enters Lake from Bridge, it would then come east on Lake; how can it turn around at the end?—It cannot.

The PB needs to get an official statement from the Fire Department after they review this new site plan.

k.   How can all parties quickly review the complex site plan when it is dated Nov 13—just released?

l. How can the PB approve a plan which has parking for new residents and businesses, but no provisions for tourists, guests, families, employees, pre-existing neighbors, or customers?   The lawyer says that customers will only be beach-goers, but that is nonsense.

M. Where is the traffic impact study? Has the Board looked that over?

N. What about the ground water pipe from  Wesley Lake that discharges  into the ocean?  The new development will dump its dirty ground water into the Lake.  Who has promised that the system will work and be maintained?  That should be in writing.

The developers’ engineer said that dumping that water into the ocean is “a good thing” because “you can’t flood the ocean.”  He also claimed that the pipe contains a “water quality device,” but nobody knows if it actually works or how it works. Should we trust this developer to care about the environment?

O.   The HPC only just released its report yesterday.  The HPC Chairperson was present at the meeting, but she had nothing to say.  She is welcome to make a statement on Blogfinger.

Note:  The next session of the Planning Board will continue the process on December 11.


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