Posts Tagged ‘Ocean Grove Homeowners Association’

Ocean Grove: Can we keep it? By Paul Goldfinger ©

Ocean Grove: Can we keep it?     Photo by Paul Goldfinger ©


Saturday, March 26, 2016.    Ocean Grove, NJ.:

34 comments below.


Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger     Jack Bredin, Researcher.


At this morning’s HOA meeting, the membership voted, by an estimated 3:1 margin, to defeat Jack Bredin’s motion, which would have supported a plan to promote single family home zoning throughout Ocean Grove.  We have spelled out the technical details of this subject in our many recent posts.

This vote means that the OGHOA, Board and membership, will be supportive as Neptune Township  continues to approve condominium buildings without parking and to maintain its ongoing policy to defy State Land Use Law .

The OGHOA has become an impotent organization without any coherent values to protect the Grove from greedy developers and unprincipled elected officials.

At Blogfinger we tried to warn everyone. It’s not that we care about what that crew at the HOA Board thinks, but we do care about what Grovers think , so the vote today was disappointing.

We will continue to report the news and our opinions, but we are done trying to encourage our HOA neighbors into opposing those who would exploit our town.

We are not giving up on Ocean Grove, but we will divert our attention from the HOA, an organization which has straight-lined as far as we are concerned.


(PS:    There are 34 comments by Grovers. Click on “comments” below)




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Blogfinger photo ©

Ocean Grove, New Jersey.   Blogfinger photo ©  Re-posted from 2014.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger   (We are constantly talking about the Grove and how it is evolving.  This historical review evoked some interesting comments, but now we are 4 years later, and you can bring us up to date if you wish by clicking in comments.)

Ocean Grove, NJ.   July 12, 2014:     We have had some commenters  in the last few days bring up the subject of  who gets credit for the 1990’s turnaround that brought this neglected, rundown shore town back from the abyss to become the trendy, diverse, and popular place that it is today.

The comments were triggered by the Jersey Shore Arts Center’s misunderstanding with the Camp Meeting Association.  Herb Herbst, the President of the JSAC,  is a town hero because of his leadership of the HOA in the ’90’s.

I.M. Radar   (a pseudonym)  brought it up twice in the last two days when he made reference to “the dramatic influx of professional gay homeowners [who] have created the highly valued enclave we live in today. ”   I have heard that claim made on a number of occasions in the past.

But Radar and others offer no  evidence to bolster their contentions. The issue is, if credit is due, then who gets the credit?   As a Grover with an interest in Ocean Grove history, demographics, and social matters, I have found that there has been no scholarly  interest in these topics other than one:

In 2002, Karen Schmelzkopf, a professor at Monmouth University, wrote a paper called “Landscape, Ideology, and Religion: a Geography of Ocean Grove, New Jersey.”

Her 20 page paper with nearly 100 references appeared in the Journal of Historical Geography, 28, 4 (2002) 589 +- 608.  *     She paid great attention to every detail regarding the turnaround of Ocean Grove in the late 1990’s. She gave full credit to Herb Herbst and his Home Owners Association.  He was President of that group during most of the ’90’s.  Prof. Schmelzkopf attributes the rescue of Ocean Grove  entirely to that organization.

I am not going to recite all the  details of her study. You can read her paper yourself on-line.*  However, here are some quotes :

“This, then, was the situation in Ocean Grove by the mid-1980’s: decrepit infrastructure, a meager tourist trade, a year round population made up of predominantly low to moderate income elderly folks and former mental patients, and the diffusion of crime from Asbury Park”

“In response to that challenge, the OGHOA, led by a group of “charismatic leaders” from the community, became an activist “quasi-government.”

“By 1995 the OGHOA became the largest community association in New Jersey and probably the most influential.”

The HOA had over 1,000 members. There were many politically connected people helping Herb including corporate presidents and others who lived in the Grove. The HOA worked with the Chamber of Commerce, the State of New jersey, Neptune Township, and the Camp Meeting Association to accomplish certain goals such as dealing with miserable boarding houses and trying to bring secular and religious tourists back.

Prof. Schmelzkopf said, “By the end of the 1990’s, the OGHOA had fulfilled many of their goals: property values had risen, the number of deinstitutionalized had been dramatically decreased, crime had dropped, and tourists were flocking back to the Grove. Financially comfortable empty-nesters and retirees, along with professionals, academics, and artists in their twenties and thirties including a growing gay population were moving in.”

I urge all of you to read her paper. You can download it by clicking on this link:   (You will have to check your downloads folder to open it.)

Journal of Historical Geography    *

The purpose of this article on Blogfinger is to try to tell an accurate and documented story of how the OG turnaround occurred in the ’90’s.  The facts indicate that a number of diverse segments of the OG community participated then.

The issue today on Blogfinger is historical truth.  So let’s try to keep undocumented assertions out of our community discussions regarding  Ocean Grove’s fascinating history.  We welcome comments from knowledgeable Grovers and,  in particular,  from the Historical Society of Ocean Grove regarding the facts about OG history.

Editor’s note  October, 2018.   There is no doubt about the contribution of OG’s gay community.  Dr. Schmelzkopf acknowledged that during a conversation I had with her at Monmouth University when she spoke to a group of interested Grovers.

But the history of that time suggests that there are multiple factions and people which deserve credit for the turn-around.

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The HGA needs to focus on home owners and let the Township, the developers and the merchants solve their own problems. Jean Bredin photo. Blogfinger staff. © 2015

The HGA needs to focus on home owners and let the Township, the developers and the merchants solve their own problems. Jean Bredin photo. Blogfinger staff. © 2015

Here are the nominees for HOA offices. Evidently none of these coronations is opposed.  (from the HOA minutes)

President – Barbara Burns

Vice President – Richard Williams

Treasurer – George Germann

Secretary – Theresa Checki

Trustee – David Phillips.


And here is an item from the HOA June minutes: regarding the Ground Rent “problem:”


“A town-wide Ground Rent Committee has been formed to spearhead counter actions to these ground rent increases: it includes representation of town merchants, innkeepers, realtors, and the OGHOA (Barbara is a member).

A retainer of $7,500 has been paid to Attorney Matt Adams from the Philadelphia-based firm Fox Rothschild. His initial mandate is to help define what legal options are realistic so that strategies and goals can be clearly defined. that strategies and goals can be clearly defined.

The committee has created the legal entity For Ten Fifty Inc. for financial operation. The company has initial funding of $10k from matching $5k contributions by the OGHOA and town merchants/ innkeepers.”



The HOA has decided that ground rent increases are of such vital importance that they needed to form a “Town-wide” Ground Rent Committee to consider increases on a case by case basis. So our HOA is going to be working to help merchants and condo developers. What a surprise!

How many of you homeowners who pay $10.50 per year are interested in stirring this pot? How many of you think that this subject has reached a level of importance that the HOA should be spending money on a lawyer?

Has anybody besides merchant building owners, or new condo owners, or new house owners experienced a ground rent increase? What percent of our home owning population has had an increase in ground rents? After all, this is a Home Owners association.

The minutes don’t explain why a lawyer is needed—especially with the HOA contributing money to reach $5000 toward “initial funding.”  Did you ever know a lawyer who could stop at the retainer?  Let the monied interests in town pay legal fees (realtors, business people, and developers)  The HOA should just be observers now. Who authorized spending HOA money on this lawyer?

After all, where is our lawyer to sue over the Township’s outrageous support of developers, especially at the North End and in the condo industry of OG? Where is our lawyer to look into suspicious zoning approvals such as at Mary’s Place and regarding the NERP (North End Redevelopment Plan) where single family zoning was discarded by the Township in favor of 165 new residential units plus an underground garage?

And where is our lawyer to look into the RSIS legal controversy?   And where is the money to hire a much-needed parking consultant?

Do you think the new HOA officers will stray from the current bizarre approach of the Home Groaners Ass.? No way!

Short of a revolution, it’s time for a Blogfinger poll and for comments from you about this subject   What say you?

PS:    Oh, one more thing.  there is a new Parking Task Force  in Neptune, and two individuals were chosen to represent we the homeowners.  These two “Homeowners at Large” were “selected” according to the HOA minutes.

Does anyone know how this selection was made, by whom, and what is their mandate?   Who’s best interest have they promised to defend?     As usual, murkiness is the middle name of the OGHOA.


Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger


STEPHEN DEROSA:    “Life is a Funny Proposition After All.”    From Boardwalk Empire


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The next OGHOA meeting will be held on March 26 at 10:00 am.  in the Community Room.  There will be a discussion of Jack Bredin’s February motion regarding the Neptune Township Application for a special RSIS  parking standard.  His motion, currently tabled, reads:

“The OGHOA is in favor of the Neptune Township Committee refiling an application for a waiver from the State RSIS Parking Standard for detached single family houses only.”

You may recall that the Township applied in 2015 for a special standard which would apply to all of Ocean Grove.   But that would open the door to unlimited condoization in town as well as more multifamily or large buildings that could be built without providing any parking.  That outrageous effort by the Township has been supported by the OGHOA and is a policy which is just the opposite of what most Grovers prefer.

Jack’s motion would recommend a special standard only for new single family houses.  That means approvals could be given for new single family  houses without demanding that they have driveways or garages.

Blogfinger recommends that you go to that meeting and vote for Jack’s motion.   And please support Jack in case there is any more parliamentary chicanery afoot.

Also note that currently there is no active Neptune OG application at the Department of Consumer Affairs because the last one was dismissed without prejudice by the State Site Improvement Advisory Board, and Neptune has not so far re-applied.

The SIAB recently cancelled their March meeting.  We suspect that Neptune will re-apply so that they can continue their anti-OG policies regarding condominiums without worrying about breaking the law.   But even if Neptune does not reapply, this vote will indicate which way the wind is blowing in our town.

The Township Committee now has 2 new members, so we must keep the pressure on the Committee to do their jobs as representatives of the people instead of being shills for developers.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

GRANT PHABAO    “Message to you Rudy”  from the movie Chef.

“Stop your messing around (ah-ah-ah)

Better think of your future (ah-ah-ah)

Time you straighten right out (ah-ah-ah)

Creating problems in town (ah-ah-ah)”


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Blogfinger in the spin cycle. © Don't make me dizzy.  Photographer unknown.

Blogfinger in the spin cycle. © Don’t make me dizzy. Photographer unknown.

To the Editor:

Below is a letter we sent to the OGHOA regarding their being MIA on RSIS parking issues and asking what their strategy is.  

I believe that, beyond contacting Mr. Lago at the Dept. of Community Affairs, we should encourage your readers to write to the OGHOA and ask/request that they initiate/increase their efforts on this critically important issue.  Ocean Grovers need to begin to hold the OGHOA accountable for being our advocates.  Let’ start a letter writing campaign/groundswell to get OGHOA moving.


We live in Ocean Grove.  Parking is an important concern for our family and I found it curious, if not outright disturbing, that no representative of the OGHOA went to Trenton last week to lobby against changes to the application of RSIS standards within OG.  

You are well aware that if Neptune Township is successful in negating these regulations, an explosion of condos will result, as will further exacerbation of the current parking shortage.  These dynamics could well jeopardize our Historic District designation.   This is an issue that is directly in the sweet spot for the OGHOA.

Further, I am mystified that you have not, to my knowledge, filed complaints/legal challenges with appropriate State agencies regarding the non-compliance of recent real estate projects.  How many condos will you watch being built that don’t provide adequate parking before you act?

  And, importantly, we have not seen evidence of the OGHOA being part of the dialogue for the likely non-compliance of the North End development (will an underground parking lot meet the full RSIS requirements?  Not likely).  To date, it appears that Blogfinger is the only entity that is fighting back

The RSIS regulations give you a very powerful tool to control development.   What are you doing to assure these regulations are enforced and prevent circumnavigation of existing parking standards by Neptune Township and their crony developers (other than passively watching it all play out)?   We need you to be activists on this issue.  I’m sure all residents of OG would like to understand your strategy for managing this issue to OG’s advantage.  Please let us know what you are doing.


DAVID HEPLER is a resident of Ocean Grove

December 21, 2015

Editor’s Note:  Here is the “hook” regarding the RSIS rules.  If someone wants to put up a condo building with the RSIS standards in place, then it will be impossible for them to comply, because they would have to put the parking on their lot or lots. Since that would be impossible in most situations, then a single family house or an empty lot is the only option.  Single family houses should get the exemption from the State because if someone wants to put up a single family house, there will be no room for the required driveway and parking. So the exemption for them would create a single family Victorian house with no driveway or garage, a situation that is not only historic but is very Grovey.  —-Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

DAVID.   Thanks for that constructive comment.  We should ring some bells for you.  Where are those Del-Vikings?



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OG North End waiting for development since 2007. Home Groaners Ass. are clueless. Blogfinger file photo ©

OG North End waiting for development since 2007. Home Groaners Ass. (HGA)  are clueless. Blogfinger file photo ©


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger and Jack Bredin,, researcher @Blogfinger.

A Blogfinger reader suggested we view the minutes of the Nov. 28, 2015 Home Owners Association   (HOA) meeting. It can be found on their website (OGHOA.org,) and below is our evaluation of their North End misinformation including some quotes from their minutes. We suggest that all of you familiarize yourselves with the truth:

  1. The Township’s application for a RISS exemption is ignored by the OGHOA, according to their minutes. There is no mention of that situation which we have been reporting about recently. The Neptune Township application to the Sites Improvement Advisory Board in Trenton has important implications for the North End Plan. The Home Groaners are missing in action.   That application must be blocked by our citizens.
  1. “The entire negotiation process has come to a pause.” Sorry, but there is no negotiation process going on. The CMA is having private discussions with WAVE, while the Township waits for WAVE to sign a Redevelopers Agreement. The Town Attorney has been waiting for 7 years for WAVE to show their financial capability and to sign the Agreement.
  1. OGHOA says there is “a newly revised and reduced plan that has lowered the amount of RSIS standard required parking to be accommodated in a one level underground parking garage which will be for the condos in block one.”

This is nonsense. Committeeman Randy Bishop presented a concept plan earlier this year which, he said, would replace the 2008 NERP. But that “new” plan was never approved because no revised plan can be approved before the signing of a Redevelopers Agreement for the 2008 NERP.

On page 22 of the 2008 NERP it says, “Any proposed changes in permitted uses in the land use plan (NERP)—residential density, building height, or the core design concepts in this plan shall require notice and new public hearings in a manner similar to the adoption of the original plan.”

The “new” WAVE plan presented by Bishop proposed reducing the density west of the boardwalk by 50% and also increasing the density east of the boardwalk by 100% by adding two  upper stories of condos to the large Pavilion on the beach.

When Bishop was subsequently questioned about the “new plan” by a member of the public, Bishop said, “That plan was a mistake.” Ann Horan must have missed that meeting.

  1. “WAVE has asserted that they will not give complete financials to the Township until the CMA signs a revised CMA-WAVE Agreement.”

This is also nonsense:   Private negotiations between OGCMA and WAVE have nothing to do with and cannot hold up the redevelopment process that is controlled by the Township Committee.

  1. OGHOA says that “reduced RISS mandated parking would be accommodated in a one level underground parking garage.”

That is wrong because no actual garage plan has ever been submitted for the 2008 plan. In the “new plan” there is a dotted line on a drawing to show the extent of a parking garage, but again, there is no actual plan available and no engineering estimate of the project’s costs for such a garage. There is reason to believe that the bulk of the new condo’s will sit on top of the garage, but there is no plan to show such an arrangement.

  1. Another issue that is not mentioned by the HOA: According to the NERP and the “new plan” no parking will be required for the boardwalk Pavilion despite the condos and the banquet hall mentioned in the “new plan.”

So, the OGHOA, which supports all of this, would agree that for a wedding reception to be held in the Pavilion during the summer, the guests can park on Ocean Avenue or use the meters in Asbury Park or Bradley Beach. Of course such situations will produce increased need for on street parking at our North End.

This scenario actually could come true if the State awards Neptune Township the parking and streets exemptions which they are currently seeking.

Blogfinger readers need to learn about these issues so that they can be knowledgeable when it comes time to demonstrate and speak up in large numbers, not only about the North End Plan but also about the application to the State RISS Board. The Home Groaners Ass. continues to be incompetent in their assessment of this situation.

BARRY MANILOW with music like we will be hearing from the new North End Hotel and the Banquet Hall in the Pavilion on the beach  (aka “Asbury Park South.”)


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State Senator Jennifer Beck (R) of Monmouth County represents 17 towns including OG. 8/29/15. Ocean Grove. Blogfinger.net.

State Senator Jennifer Beck (R) of Monmouth County represents 17 towns including OG. 8/29/15. Ocean Grove. Blogfinger.net.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger

It must be catching. First the Ocean Grove United wouldn’t speak to  citizens at their recent demonstration in Auditorium Square Park, and now, at the OGHOA annual politicians breakfast meeting, held at Days, the trustees of the HOA seemed to want silence to prevail—they did not provide a microphone, so most of the questions from Grovers could not be heard in the back, and some who might have asked a question did not for fear of standing up and having to yell.

The silent treatment was carried forward when those who should have been there were not:   no mayor, no Congressman, no State assemblymen, no Randy Bishop and no answers, other than from Senator Jennifer Beck who offered a coherent discussion of mostly state level issues.

She spoke about approving more gambling in the state, lowering estate taxes, not increasing the gas tax, good news at Ft. Monmouth and Monmouth Park, and funding for Sandy rehab projects.   Sen. Beck said that she was elected “to be your voice.” She wants to be your “advocate” and she wants to  “hear from the residents.”

Most of the questions regarding Ocean Grove topics were dodged by Deputy Mayor McMillan who said that the Committee would “look into it” or “keep it in mind” or “there are two sides to that question” or “it’s on our radar screen.” He had no answers, but at least his voice was audible.

Committeeman Brantley was there, but he must have taken a wrong turn on Rt. 33 since he wanted to discuss West Lake Avenue (wherever that is) and widening of Rt. 66—a project that won’t begin until 2019. When he heard that there were no questions for him, he said, “Good” as he flashed a bright white dentist’s smile.

We asked the Deputy Mayor how the town can function properly without a mayor who shows up.   He essentially said “no problem” because “we all fill in when necessary.” I suggested twice to him that a new mayor be named, but he dodged that proposal—more silence.

The silence theme continued regarding Ocean Grove, as such issues as zoning abuses, RSIS parking rules, and North End redevelopment did not come up.

But there were two questions dusted off from the past and asked, but not answered—-again, silence.     One of them, which goes back to the time of the Jews wandering in the desert, “What will be done about the parking problems in Ocean Grove?”

The second was, ” Why do we keep the Wesley Lake bridges locked at night?”   The woman who asked the question asserted that there were no other ways to get back to the Grove. She also framed the question as “a borderline civil rights issue.”

The Deputy Mayor had no clue, but a member of the audience who had remained awake, said that we should wait until the merchants on Cookman Ave. give up locking their stores behind metal fronts, and then we in OG can perhaps feel safe enough to unlock the gates. Bravo—let’s make him mayor.

As for the HOA, the perpetrators of this silent meeting, they were praised by the Deputy Mayor for attending Committee meetings and “keeping the Committee on its toes.”  Really? At the last Committee meeting, the HOA members did not open their mouths regarding the new north Boardwalk and they are lost wandering in the wilderness of the North End project. This sounds like a “Heckuva job Brownie” moment.

But we did learn that there is a new HOA trustee, however she was not present to meet the members—another silent partner.   And mark your calendars; next year the entire Home Groaners board can be replaced, preferably by members of the silent majority who actually want to get something done.
JULIE RAFFERTY    from her album “No Finer Place.”

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The North End Redevelopmane Zone is bordered by the boardwalk, Wesley Lake and Spray Avenue. Photo by Prosper Bellizia, Blogfinger staff. ©

The North End Redevelopment  Zone is bordered by the boardwalk, Wesley Lake, Beach Ave,  and Spray Avenue (foreground).   West to east photo by Prosper Bellizia, Blogfinger staff. ©   This was first posted in 2015.

Northeast aspect of the Redevelopment zone. Prosper Bellizia ©

Northeast aspect of the Redevelopment zone. Prosper Bellizia ©


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

In the December 4, 2014 issue of the Coaster is a column called “Did You Know?” by reporter Bonnie Graham. The focus of the piece was to explain the functions of the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association. Ms. Graham interviewed HOA President Ann Horan and wasted no time in bringing up the controversial North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP).

In responding to Graham’s questions about the NERP, Horan made an unforced error and got the facts wrong,*  resulting in a mild tempest at the subsequent Township Committee meeting on December 22, 2014.  The NERP, after all, is a sensitive and critical subject in Ocean Grove.

Between Horan’s embarrassing factual mis-step in the Coaster  and the reaction to it before the Neptune governing body, our interest in revisiting the story of the NERP was aroused.   On top of that, Graham made a  comment in the same article  that “CMA COO JP Gradone had asserted last August, 2014, at the  legislative breakfast meeting, that the North End redevelopment project, which had been on the back burner for some time, is now on the front burner.”   Really ?

On January 23, 2015, Blogfinger asked Gradone about that quote, and he said, “We are currently in discussion with the Developer regarding the project.”   So there is  some life in the process after many years of mystery, and therefore it’s time for the public to pay attention once again.  It should be noted that work cannot go ahead on the plan without a signed Redevelopment Agreement between the Township Committee negotiators  (Committee-persons Jahn and Bishop)  and the developers.  

By way of background, in the year 2006, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, owners of the undeveloped 2.37 acre North End property, decided to bring the desolate area back to its previous life where it was a lively place with a hotel, a cinema, attractions and shopping.  But one thing stood in the way—-zoning;  it was zoned for 13 single family homes.

So the developers of the property, including the CMA and others involved, created an end-run and convinced the Township Planning Board to redefine the area as a zone “in need of redevelopment,”  in accordance with the State Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.    This meant that the property was so “blighted,” that local government had to take over its management.  That new designation would allow a mixed use community to be built.

The design of a redevelopment was turned over to professional  planners in Middletown to come up with a ” framework” for a mixed use community at the OG North End. Ultimately, a much more detailed plan would have to be done before any construction could begin. Two planners signed the NERP, but no engineers did.

The developers of the plan include the OGCMA and a partnership called WAVE  (see below.)

In early 2008, the HPC, the CMA, and the OG Homeowners Association provided input which resulted in some changes in the NERP, and that was the last time that there were any changes made. The Planning Board approved the proposal, and in March, 2008, the Township Committee wrote the NERP into law.  A lawsuit was filed in opposition, and that held things up for awhile, but in 2010, Neptune Township won the suit.

The Plan includes a hotel with 80 rooms, 85 residential units consisting mostly of condos, some single family homes,  a “below grade” parking deck and  about 20  surface parking spaces. Parking is supposed to comply with RSIS State standards.   A 99 year renewable lease was part of the deal. The design was supposed to look Victorian.

You can read the  official NERP document at the Clerk’s office in the Neptune Township Municipal Building. It is no longer available on the Township web site, but we have located a link  (below) where you can read the entire planning report. **

For a variety of undisclosed reasons, the project has been dormant. Among the theories  are that a bad economy has been inhibitory and/or there have been difficulties getting all the approvals.

In 2011  the HOA passed a resolution asking that the NERP be scaled back. They offered some constructive ideas.  There is a link below reporting on their recommendations.  Unfortunately, nothing came of it.

In 2012  there were objections raised by the soon-to-be-elected Committeewoman Marybeth Jahn  regarding the size, scope and other details of the project.   Ms. Jahn spoke aggressively of changing the NERP in a totally retro direction, and everybody cheered.  It should also be noted that two other Committeemen were sympathetic to downsizing the project—-Eric Houghtaling and Randy Bishop.

Evidently buyers’ remorse was echoing through the town of Ocean Grove.  But not a single change was adopted despite these outcries.      Our October 2012 piece on this subject is linked below and is critically important reading material for every Ocean Grover.

In Sept. 2012, the following was reported in Blogfinger, covering the year-end Labor Day CMA meeting:  “CMA Trustee Douglas E. Arpert responded to a questioner who asked the status of the North End development of condos, homes and a hotel. The CMA and a company called WAVE (Wesley Atlantic Village Enterprises run by attorney William Gannon) are co-developers.  Arpert told Blogfinger they hope to conclude a redevelopment agreement with Neptune Township by the end of the year and to break ground in 2013.”    

But, of course, one month later, all of that changed with Sandy, and the developers planned to go back to the drawing board to “reassess” the plan. That made sense, because environmental regulations after the superstorm were going to change how things must be done in environmentally sensitive areas.  That was the last time we heard anything about NERP—until now  (2015).

So, getting back to the aforementioned HOA President Ann Horan’s December, 2014 Coaster interview, she said that the current  “North End Committee (and she listed the current members’ names) have  expressed the HOA’s concerns regarding the project to the Neptune Township Committee,  and their efforts helped to persuade the Committee to revise the redevelopment plan by reducing the number of proposed hotel rooms/condominium units, limiting the size of the structures in the site, providing for single family homes, and including an off street parking facility”

The problem with Horan’s December public statement in the Coaster is that she gave the false impression that the current North End Committee has been “active” in eliciting recent changes in the Redevelopment Plan.  But, as noted, there have been no changes in NERP since 2008—-7 years ago.

Horan’s statement was of sufficient concern that it was brought up at the Dec. 22, 2014 Township Committee meeting where her remarks were discussed publicly, and Committeeman Randy Bishop  found it necessary to make a public statement about it (see below.)   The Township Committee’s minutes are posted at Neptunetownship.org

The following is taken from the Committee minutes of Dec. 22, 2014:

Jack Breden, 94 1⁄2 Heck Avenue, read a recent Coaster article regarding the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association concerns regarding the North End Redevelopment Plan. The President of the Association, Ann Horan, is quoted that the Redevelopment Plan was changed based on recommendations from the Association. The article goes on to state that the Association got numerous elements of the Plan changed. Mr. Bishop stated changes were made to the Plan based on Association input before the Plan was adopted in 2008. There have been no changes made to the Plan since it was adopted in 2008.”

Because of the importance of the Redevelopment Plan to the town of Ocean Grove, “Horangate” has given us a heads-up to bring the plan’s story out of mothballs and into the public eye once again. Concerned citizens need the background to assess whatever may be coming our way re:  NERP.

Regarding starting work on the project, Committeeman Eric Houghtaling told Blogfinger three weeks ago, “I know that there are many, many things that need to be worked out before anything can be done on the Redevelopment project.”

Township Clerk Rick Cuttrell said earlier this month that he thought that the project had gotten all necessary approvals, including NJDEP, but he wasn’t certain and would find out.  We have not heard back yet on that inquiry.

So, now that the cat is out of the bag once again, and the history of the HOA’s involvement is cleared up, we will consider a series of more  detailed Blogfinger articles about the North End Redevelopment and what the future will bring.

It’s time to pay attention again, because anything new in this story, even just a dorsal fin in the water, must be made public. Currently the NERP is no different in size, scope or specifics than it was in 2008 when there were many misgivings in town about local congestion, environmental impact, parking,  and other quality of life issues. The project will affect the future of Ocean Grove in a major way.


1.   North end plan from 2008**

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

2.   Dec 13, 2010:  BF “basic fact guide” about NERP         Link to  2010 BF review

3.   May, 2011:  HOA passes a resolution which results in no changes to the NERP   HOA NERP resolution 2011 BF post link

4.  October 2012:       Very important article which all Grovers should read. Blogfinger was the last OG entity to plead for a reduction in the project.    Link:     BF Oct 12, 2012 North End article

BF quote from the Oct. 2012 article linked above  (a very important piece written shortly before Sandy:)  “If this is built, it will be the most massive construction project in Ocean Grove’s modern history. Its impact on all of us will be substantial, and that impact will begin at the opening gun, with the start of construction. ”  

If you use the BF search engine on the top of our home page, just type in “North end redevelopment plan” for more details.

WANTED:  Experienced researchers to help BF in assessing and investigating  this very important subject in great detail looking back and forward. You won’t get the details unless you, the people, get it yourselves.




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By Charles Layton

The Historic Preservation Commission seems to have persuaded the Neptune Planning Board to include stronger protections for Ocean Grove in its rewrite of the Master Plan.

But the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association remains at odds with the Planning Board over its own issues, and it appears that a fight between the two groups may be in the offing.

The newly-included language proposed by the HPC stresses the importance of Ocean Grove’s architectural heritage, its emphasis on single-family homes, and such defining characteristics of the town plan as the flared setback on avenues near the ocean.

The Planning Board has been working for months on a total rewrite of the Master Plan, a document that lays out basic goals and guidelines for land use and zoning.

Last week, the HPC passed a resolution expressing concern that the board’s proposed rewrite did not do enough to protect the Grove’s historic heritage. But at a public meeting on Wednesday night, the board revealed that it had inserted into its draft much of the language suggested by the HPC.

Also on Wednesday, the Historical Society of Ocean Grove weighed in for the first time with a letter to the Planning Board, in which it agreed with the issues raised by the HPC and also with a broader range of concerns raised by the Home Owners Association.

While acceding to most of what the HPC had asked for, the Planning Board made no concessions to the Home Owners. Members of the Home Owners board who were present at the meeting came away unhappy with that, and also with the Planning Board’s refusal to allow comment from members of the public.

“This is nonsense,” Home Owners trustee Fran Paladino told me after it was made clear that no one would be allowed to voice concerns or raise questions. The three-hour meeting was taken up by a lengthy report to the Planning Board by its consultant Jennifer Beahm, covering the details of the entire 207-page draft of the proposed new Master Plan.

In a letter delivered on Friday, a committee of the Home Owners had expressed fears that this new plan, as written, would be bad for Ocean Grove. (For full details, read the Home Owners letter here.)

There was no indication on Wednesday night that the Planning Board was in any mood to accommodate the Home Owners’ concerns. Neither did the Home Owners trustees show any willingness to back off, and it seems likely that the issue will be raised at the group’s next membership meeting, which is on September 24.

One of the Home Owners’ chief concerns is a suggestion in the Planning Board’s draft that the Township create a new Land Use Advisory Committee to make decisions as to whether “minor changes that have been found to be di-minimus [sic] in nature can be approved administratively” rather than going to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. The Home Owners committee’s letter said it feared this new bureaucratic layer of authority would “usurp the authority of the existing citizens boards, replacing their judgments with the judgments of various executives of the Township. This would potentially allow for more decisions to be made outside the public’s view, and would be an invitation to more political influence and insider dealing.”

Support for the Home Owners position on this and some other issues appeared to be growing in certain quarters. In its Wednesday letter, the Historical Society made a point of concurring with issues raised by the Home Owners. Gail Shaffer, president of the Historical Society, told me she was especially concerned about the issue of the proposed new advisory committee. Deborah Osepchuk, chairwoman of the HPC, told me she too was concerned about that issue, although she stressed that she was speaking only for herself, not for the HPC, on that matter.

Another major concern of the Home Owners committee is the proposal’s frequent recommendations that various rules on zoning, density limits, the flared setback and other issues important to Ocean Grove be “reviewed,” “redrafted” or “evaluated.” So much “broad language in the Master Plan, urging such sweeping changes, would give present and future administrations too much discretion to make whatever changes they please,” the Home Owners letter said.

The Historical Society’s letter specifically supported the Home Owners on this issue. It spoke of “weakly defined language that urges sweeping changes to the present regulations.”

Osepchuk said she was pleased that the Planning Board had accepted the HPC’s suggestion to put protective language from the old Master Plan into the draft of the new one. “There are marked improvements from what was originally written,” she said, but added that “there is still room for some tweaking.”

One important historical passage from the old Master Plan, which Osepchuk’s commission succeeded in having transplanted into the new one, described Ocean Grove’s physical decline in the 1990s as hotels and rooming houses for summer lodgers gave way to multi-family residences and boarding houses for the indigent. Legal changes since then, prohibiting similar conversions to multi-family residential use, “have limited additional deterioration and facilitated a renaissance of investment in single-family housing, bed and breakfasts and historic hotels,” the restored language says. It continues: “These types of uses are more appropriate to the scale and character of the [historic] district and provide appropriate development that preserves the character of Ocean Grove.” The newly included language also promises “a strong commitment to the protection and preservation of Ocean Grove’s unique town plan, particularly its flared setback, and all properties designated as having architectural and historic significance.”

The HPC considered that language important to protecting Ocean Grove’s status as a National Historic District.

Planning Board Chairman Joseph Shafto said the public would not have a chance to speak before the board until it meets on November 9 for what could be its final consideration of the Master Plan. Between now and November 9, however, anyone who wishes to submit a letter for the board’s consideration may do so, Shafto said.

After the plan is approved, in whatever form, by the Planning Board, the Board and its attorneys would then rewrite the local land use ordinance based on what’s in the new Master Plan. The new ordinance would then be passed into law by the Township Committee.

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By Paul Goldfinger

The Ocean Grove Home Owners Association and the Historic Preservation  Commission are expressing fears that the Township’s proposed new Master Plan will be bad for Ocean Grove.

A committee of the Neptune Planning Board has been working for months on a total rewrite of the Master Plan, a document that lays out basic goals and guidelines for land use and zoning throughout the Township, including The Grove.

On Friday, a committee of the OGHOA delivered a letter to the Planning Board stating a broad range of concerns about the proposed new plan. Also last week, the HPC passed a resolution expressing its own strong concerns.

In its letter, the OGHOA committee said, “Our fear is that so much broad language in the  Master Plan, urging such sweeping changes, would give present and future administrations too much discretion to make whatever changes they might please. … we fear that this draft opens the door to a weakening of existing protections.”

The letter also expressed fears that a new Township Land Use Advisory Committee, proposed as part of the new Master Plan, would “usurp the authority of the existing citizens boards, replacing their judgments with the judgments of various executives of the Township. This would potentially allow for more decisions to be made outside the public’s view, and would be an invitation to more political influence and insider dealing.”

Other language in the proposed new Plan, the HOA committee feared, “could lead to the return of the flophouses in Ocean Grove, which the Home Owners Association has worked so long and hard to eradicate.”

The HPC resolution focused on the Historic Preservation component of the new Master Plan, stating that it “fails to adequately incorporate the defining characteristics of Ocean Grove which contributed to its designation as a National Historic District including the seashore vernacular design, flare area setback, recreational and park configuration and the grid pattern incorporated in the design of Ocean Grove.” The HPC’s resolution, passed by a unanimous vote, “strongly urges” the Planning Board to restore this information.

Representatives of both groups plan to attend a meeting of the Planning Board on Wednesday, September 14, at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Municipal Building.  The public is invited to this meeting.

NOTE: The posting that follows this one is the full content of the HOA’s letter.   To read the HPC resolution, go to this link:

HPC Resolution to the Planning Board

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