Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘North End Redevelopment in Ocean Grove’

Is there something suspicious going on at the North End? Who is looking at this on behalf of we the people?  (This is a scene from “Twin Peaks.”)

 

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor@Blogfinger.net

A copy of a letter was sent to BF by a Grover who lives at the North End. It was written by a consultant and dated March 19, 2020.  It is addressed to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Land Use Regulation in Trenton.

It is from The Lomax Consulting Group of Cape May which represents Neptune Township.  Click on it for easier reading.  Below the letter is the Materials Plan.

 

 

 

 

CAFRA*:  Coastal Area Facility Review Act. This act is about protecting our ocean shoreline.

When I read this letter, the first thing I noticed was that the Atlantic Ocean was not mentioned or shown on the site plan. Do you suppose that was intentional?  After all, if one is considering the North End Plan’s environmental impact, very close to the beach, wouldn’t the main concern be about the Ocean?  Maybe they hope that some paper shuffler in Trenton might miss that important point.

They also refer to the boutique hotel as being a replacement of a demolished “historic hotel.”  But would that be accurate from a historic perspective?  Where is the HSOG on this?  And, is the hotel shown built on a street?

I also don’t see any mention of the underground garage.  Would that not be an important environmental concern given that this project has boundaries on a natural lake and on an ocean?  Have they given up the plan for an underground garage?  If not, why isn’t it shown in the enclosed site plan?

And a five story hotel?   And two “3-4 story multi-family  buildings…”  Does zoning allow for these heights?  Won’t that ruin the views for the neighborhood?

Also the letter doesn’t mention “condominiums,” and the misleading language suggests that the “2 multi-family buildings” contain only 39 units.  And are they detached or not?

The letter says that its description is “brief” and that there is a “complete permit application package.”   But the public should be able to have at least one hearing to consider a presentation as well as a  Q and A.

You may recall that OGNED came to the HOA meeting to discuss the plan, but they refused to answer many questions, and the Groaners permitted that censorship.

It’s too bad that the HOA doesn’t  have a consulting lawyer to look at these things on behalf of the citizens of the Grove and to demand public hearings.

Maybe the underutilized BPA should change its focus to take a hard look, on behalf of we the people, at this project which is on the verge of becoming a reality.   It’s a lot more important and suspicious than the hocus pocus parking mess.

And maybe the Township and developers are manipulating this CAFRA application through while everyone is distracted by COVID-19.

This application should be put on hold until such time as everyone’s attention is available, and the Mayor has the power to put this thing on hold.

The Township could be petitioned to press the “pause” button.

 

JOHN DENVER.  “Farewell Andromeda. (Welcome to My Morning)”

“Welcome to my morning
Welcome to my day
I’m the one responsible
I made it just this way.”

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Are they kidding?  “Le Dejeuner Sur L’herbe” by Yue Minjun. Paul Goldfinger photo. Princeton U. Art Museum.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  and Jack Bredin, citizen activist, reporter and researcher for Blogfinger.net

There will be a resolution on the menu for the November 26 Township Committee meeting regarding a new plan for the Ocean Grove North End.  The language is such that it will be very difficult for any of you citizens who are not lawyers to know precisely what is going on.  The resolution is long and has multiple parts, and they probably won’t read the whole thing at the meeting.

But either way, it will leave your head spinning due to lack of transparency and lucid explanations of what it all is about.

As you know, a North End Redevelopment Plan was approved in 2008 with the CMA and WAVE designated as co-redevelopers.  Over the years, the principles could not figure out how to make the Plan happen.  In 2015 Randy Bishop presented  a scaled-down  plan, but that was never approved.  Until now, only the 2008 NERP has been valid.  But now, with this resolution,  the Township is  re-introducing the “Randy Bishop Plan.”

About 6 months ago,  the President of the CMA said that a new plan would take effect soon. Lately a new redeveloper  (OGNED) appeared on the North End scene and has been “negotiating” with the Township.  That group is called Ocean Grove North End Developer. It is a “joint venture”  consisting of WAVE and a few more LLC  players.

If you want to read the entire new Resolution, go to neptunetownship.org and click on agendas/minutes.  Then click on Township Committee and choose the agenda for Nov. 26, 2018.

In brief, the title of the Resolution #18-395 says “Authorize the execution of a conditional designation and interim cost agreement with OG North End Development (OGNED) including provisions for a deposit of project funds to defray costs incurred by the Township of Neptune in connection with the negotiation of a Redevelopment Agreement, pursuant to the local redevelopment and housing law, N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1, ET Seq.”     Got it?

We can tell you some of the provisions, but the Resolution is full of more holes than a bagel factory.  Here are some of the  components:

a.  The project site is now 3 acres, not 5 acres as before. The entire new plan  is about half the size of the original 2008 NERP.

b. The new “Proposal”  calls for a mixed use development with a hotel, 36 condos, 10 single family homes, 9,000 square feet boardwalk retail, 20 surface parking spaces and a 144 car “subterranean parking structure.”  There also will be “public open space, view corridors and a promenade along Wesley Lake.”

c.  The Township Redevelopment Committee has “vetted the Proposal.”

d. The Township has decided that OGNED has the “necessary experience and qualifications” to implement the Proposal.

e. The Township and OGNED must negotiate a Redevelopment Agreement.

f.  CMA, the land owner, is no longer designated as a co-redeveloper, as requested by WAVE.

g. With this Resolution, OGNED is designated as the “Conditional Redeveloper of the Project Site.”  This is pending further negotiations involving the Township. If they cannot agree to a Redevelopers Agreement, then the deal is terminated.

We are concerned that the proper redevelopment legal procedures are not being followed as this “new Plan” is propelled into reality by this Resolution.  Of course, we are not lawyers, and wouldn’t it be great if the Home Groaners hired an expert to vett this stuff for we the people?

We are just scratching the surface, but our concerns include:

A.  Why were there no public meetings/input prior to putting this gobbledygook on the table.  The public deserves a transparent  explanation, in detail, to understand what this is all about.  Why isn’t normal English used–for example, what are a “conditional designation, a conditional redeveloper, and an interim cost agreement?”

B.  What is the relationship of the original (2008 and still in effect) NERP to this new “proposal?”  Could the OGNED developers decide to change their minds and shift gears back to the original  and larger NERP provisions?

C.  the Resolution says that the original 2008 NERP has been “amended from time to time,” but that is not true.

D. A sketchy presentation of the “new proposal” is found in the resolution, but does this Resolution pretend to officially approve the “new proposal” now?   The title doesn’t say that.

E. Is there an engineering estimate of the cost of this project?

F. The resolution gives OGNED exclusive negotiation rights with the Township.  Why has there been no bidding requested to let other developers have a chance to get this project? The redevelopment law requires bidding.

G. Terminology:  What are the definitions of: “concept plan,” “consent agenda,” “option agreement,”  “interim cost agreement,” “pre-submission forms,” and “preliminary plans?” And what is the definition of the “Proposal?”

Does approval of this Resolution indicate approval of the new “scaled-down” North End Re-Development Plan?  There are 34 items listed as part of the “scope” of the plan, and there are few details.  So how can such a plan be approved now?

H. It’s been ten years.  The Township owes it to the people of Ocean Grove to reconsider the out-of-date “Zone in Need of Redevelopment” designation.  Why should these developers with their new “Proposal”  be given a free ride to overthrow the original single family zoning?

There is nothing about that property that would make the North End site in need of re-development. The CMA and OGNED are perfectly able to develop that area without local government handing them zoning relief.

I.  And finally, after 10 years of diddly-squat at the North End, are they kidding??

JESSI ALEXANDER  “So Wrong”

Read Full Post »

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.

Click to access 01-13-12_Comprehensive%20Master%20Plan_Neptune%20Township_Amended%20January%202012.pdf

Click to access Redevelopment%20Plan_03-06-08_NorthEnd.pdf

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

LIZA MINELLI:

Read Full Post »

YAK!  Our neighbor to the north.  2015. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

YAK. A. Park.  2015. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

According to the Township Committee, the Township Attorney, the CMA, the Township Clerk and the OGHOA North End Committee, things are “heating up” with respect to the North End Redevelopment Plan. In a series of articles on the subject, Blogfinger has described some of the details and has found some “red flags” regarding the propriety of the process. It would be helpful to take the pulse of the public regarding how OG citizens perceive what we have learned so far.  

Papa Bue’s Jazz Band:

Read Full Post »

Wesley Lake looking towards the North End of Ocean Grove.  Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©

Wesley Lake looking towards the North End of Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

The process of redeveloping the North End of Ocean Grove has been starting and stopping since the current plan (NERP) was approved in 2008 and a redeveloper (WAVE) was selected. The next step was to be a signed redevelopment agreement between the redeveloper and Neptune Township.

The last time negotiations re-started was before Sandy in 2012. After that, the process got sidetracked, and there was talk that the Camp Meeting wanted to change the plan to eliminate the underground garage. We have no independent confirmation of that, and the last word from the CMA, per Mr. Gradone, COO, is that they will proceed with the original plan. Mr. Gradone said in 2014 that the project was presently on the “front burner.”

Now there is speculation that the efforts to re-negotiate and sign a redevelopment agreement may soon be underway again. It should be noted that such an agreement must be based on the original 2008 plan. Although small changes could be made, any fundamental change such as substituting single family homes instead of condos, could require trashing the plan and starting the process over, including public meetings.

Because of the huge public interest in Ocean Grove regarding the North End project, it would be helpful if Mayor Jahn would report on the North End Redevelopment Plan’s progress at each Committee meeting. The public should be kept informed regarding this issue.

It is important that all Grovers read the October 12, 2012 editorial on Blogfinger which is linked under Jack Bredin’s comment (click “comments”below.)   That piece is very informative as are the 39 comments including some provocative ones by our (now) Mayor Mary Beth Jahn.

BILL WITHERS  (in honor of our new mayor who, we hope, will shine some light on  the process and update her 2012 Blogfinger remarks:)

Read Full Post »

Ocean Grove's Wesley Lake will form part of the North End Redevelopment zone.  Photo by Paul Goldfinger, 2012.

Ocean Grove’s Wesley Lake will form part of the North End Redevelopment zone. Photo by Paul Goldfinger, 2012. © Click to enlarge.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

Steve Valk’s letter to the editor speaks about the idea of Ocean Grove as a community of multiple vertically integrated parts which he has analyzed for us in prior interviews.  (Steve Valk on the OG community.  LINK:      BF conversation with social scientist Steve Valk)

He and I both agree that our town is unique  and needs to be appreciated for its fascinating components, one of which is the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association  (OGCMA).

The role of the OGCMA in this community is basically a positive influence, despite what some cynics say. We had a fire last week, and the welcome mat was immediately rolled out at the Youth Temple as well as providing other services such as fund raising for the Fire Relief fund.  The CMA has a track record of emergency relief  and charitable efforts. They reached out to the various town civic groups in a big way after Sandy, and that effort has been remarkable and has benefitted us all.

But, from a wider perspective, what do they view as their place in the overall community of Ocean Grove?  What about now, with the North End Redevelopment looming in the future?  We have heard little from them on this subject.

What does the CMA think about the effects their North End project will have on everyone who calls Ocean Grove home? The CMA did create the town in 1869, so do they really want the North End to become Asbury Park South?  The indications suggest that they do, because they have stuck to their plan which was originated in 2008  and unchanged since then.

Sure, there is the history of the old North End amusement/hotel/recreation area, and that “old fashioned” North End  may be a precedent, but is it historic?   If history is their argument, then maybe they should look at the earliest park-like setting over there which contained tents and trees for perhaps 30 or 40 years after the founding.

The old North End Hotel was torn down in 1978, and this “area in need of redevelopment” has been essentially unchanged since then.  The CMA had to turn over control of the North End Development to Neptune Township, but as land owner and co-developer, it certainly has influence over what happens in the future.

Some citizens believe that the CMA should worry about the effects that the 2008 North End design will have on Ocean Grove’s appearance, safety, parking, lifestyle, etc.    Because the CMA tends not to go public with such concerns, we don’t know how they feel about it, and the final plans are incomplete.  If there are Grovers who believe that the CMA should change its mind about the project, then they should write to them or meet with them.

Sometime, commenters on Blogfinger want the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to get involved with more general issues in town such as historic preservation and derelict housing.    The basis for that belief seems to mostly stem from the land ownership issue and historic relationships.

But the CMA is a private organization that already does a great deal for the town.  Isn’t it unfair to expect more from them?

—–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

AIR SUPPLY:  “Lost in Love.”

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: