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Posts Tagged ‘Ocean Grove North End Redevelopment Plan’

Jack Bredin is covering the home front for Blogfinger these days.  Here he is with a North End bulletin:  a commentary on the Township Comedy Meeting of  December 20, 2018—the last opaque words for this year from this gang that can’t shoot straight.*

“The Approved NERP was for 165 units.  After approval it was put into cold storage for ten years.

“Since then, the Mayor and the Township Committee, the Mayor’s Re-development Committee, the OGCMA, the OGHOA, the former Re-developers, and the new Re-developers, have all said the following :

‘There is a new Re-development Plan that cuts the proposed density 50%, down to 80 units.’

“Early this month the Township Committee reported they were voting on this new plan,  and they did.  And, the Mayor signed off on the plan they voted on.

“At the Dec. 20, 2018 meeting, an OG resident from Heck Ave (not Jack Bredin) said to the Committee:   ‘The Township website is not clear as to what plan was approved at the last meeting.’

So, what plan was approved?’

“The answer from the Township Attorney was,  ‘The 2008 plan was the only plan we were ever considering.’ “

* “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” is the story of Papa Baccala, a Brooklyn Mafia boss, and Kid Sally Palumbo, a would-be capo who “couldn’t run a gas station at a profit even if he stole the customers’ cars”.

This Broadway tune is the perfect backdrop for the comedy of errors described above by Jack Bredin.  We have Zero Mostel with a ditty from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”   It goes to show how local government around here has deteriorated since the days of the Roman Forum when Jack was a prefect in a short skirt.

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OG North End looking through the looking glass into A. Park. Paul Goldfinger ©

OG North End looking through the looking glass into A. Park. Paul Goldfinger ©

 

Brought to you by the Committee to Save OG's North End. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©©

Evening at the OG  North End. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©

 

RYAN GOSLING AND EMMA STONE  from La La Land:  “A Lovely Night.”

 

 

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Condolandia  at the OG North End  (As seen from Surf Ave.)  Blogfinger photo. March, 2015.

Condolandia at the OG North End (As seen from Surf Ave.) Blogfinger photo. March, 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger

For years the North End of Ocean Grove remained undeveloped by the OG Camp Meeting Association, the owners of the property. The land there was zoned for single family homes, and that seemed to be appropriate considering the Master Plan’s sympathetic attitude regarding the historic district.

In 2007, the Neptune Township Planning Board agreed that the Township should establish a “zone in need of redevelopment” at the North End, but they did not argue for a change in zoning.  The Township then ordered a redevelopment plan to be drawn up.

It was the Township Committee which decided that the existing zoning should be changed to accommodate the new North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP) which would permit multiple uses for those 5+ acres including condominiums, single family homes, a hotel, commercial components and an underground parking garage.

Overriding the existing single family zoning was allowed under state law* when a “zone in need of redevelopment” has been declared. The goal of such zones is to bring back portions of New Jersey cities and towns which were considered to be so blighted that only government could restore those areas for the good of the city/town.

What did the Neptune Township Planning Board find that would justify the new designation? If you read the NERP plan, you will see a tortuous explanation to justify the new zone as something good for the town, with advantages outweighing disadvantages.

Whatever the rationalizations were, they led to a plan (NERP) that was turned into Neptune law in 2008 and which was supported by the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association, the Historic Preservation Commission and the Camp Meeting Association.

Once that happened, it was supposed to set in motion a sequence of events beginning with the formal choice of a redeveloper by the governing body (Neptune Committee.) That redeveloper was to sign a contract which detailed his obligations. We don’t know if such a contract actually exists.

We know that the redevelopers were chosen, not by the Township, but by the CMA who owns the property. The redevelopers who were named in 2008 consisted of the CMA itself and a group called “WAVE.” The Gannon company has been revealed as part of WAVE, but no other names have been disclosed.

We plan to post a series of articles on how this plan evolved, and the next one will be a review of what happened when the Township approved the redevelopers at a Committee meeting in June, 2008.

Our purpose is to inform the citizens of Ocean Grove as to what happened to bring us to 2015 and to figure out exactly where we stand now.

And then maybe some way can be found to block the commercialization of the North End.

We will also take a look at the Master Plan to see how it compares to the NERP.

By way of introduction, here is a quote from the Neptune Township Master Plan of 2011 regarding Ocean Grove–the “historic district:”

Goal: “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.”

*   HillWallak.com notes on NJ redevelopment law:     “As part of the plan, the municipality has the power to enact a redevelopment ordinance which can override the existing zoning for the area.”

KATHY BRIER.   This song is dedicated to the OG Home Groaners Association that wanted the NERP in 2008, and now they say otherwise. What a shame they didn’t have the courage to oppose this plan when they had a chance to mobilize the citizens of OG and stand strong.

From Boardwalk Empire, HBO hit series.  Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks won a Grammy for the soundtrack.

 

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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:)

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What will Ocean Grove's northern skyline look like in the future?  Paul Goldfinger photo 2007  ©

What will Ocean Grove’s northern skyline look like in the future? Paul Goldfinger photo 2007  taken from the Fishing Pier.  ©

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

We have been reporting that the North End Redevelopment Plan (NERP) is now on the “front burner” according to the Camp Meeting Association (CMA) and, according to a recent statement by the Home Owners Association, that the HOA had recently caused changes to be made to the Plan.

Blogfinger  learned that the latter assertion was not true, but there was concern that the “front burner” might be too close for comfort.

We pointed out that a Redevelopment Agreement would be needed before any work could begin and that such an agreement needs to be negotiated between the Township and the Developers.  But we were also worried about the sequence of events, especially after a Township official said that he thought those NJDEP approvals had already been obtained.  The concern was focused in particular on the impact of a “below grade” parking garage located between the Ocean and Wesley Lake.   And we had no information as to whether essential final construction/ engineering plans had been completed.

A knowledgeable citizen, Jack Bredin, informed us that no such approvals had been obtained and that final construction plans needed to be done first. He thought that the project was hopelessly mired and that the NERP, as it stands now, “will never be built.”

But we needed confirmation from the Township, and today we heard from the Township Clerk—-Rick Cuttrell. His office is where official documents live, and the Township is the place where we the people  need to go to find out the truth. That is why local government transparency is so important for us.

Cuttrell said, “There have been no construction plans and/or drawings submitted for the North End Redevelopment .  The next step in the process is to negotiate and execute a Redevelopment Agreement with the Redeveloper.  Plans cannot be submitted, and hence no approvals from public agencies granted, without the existence of a signed Redevelopment Agreement. 

“In response to your specific question about DEP approvals for the underground parking, I do not have record of any DEP approvals for the underground parking.”

Thank you Rick Cuttrell, Neptune Township Clerk.   And thank you Jack Bredin, a citizen activist who is willing to speak out.

We now have a less murky guide to the situation. Of course we don’t know what discussions are now going on in the background, but it  appears certain that there is a long road ahead before the NERP becomes reality. We also have a new word: instead of “Developer,” we now will be using “Redeveloper.”

And the citizens of Ocean Grove who are opposed to the massive North End project will have to pay attention and stay involved.

The HOA North End Committee should change course and publicly oppose the entire plan. They should advocate for a park or a beautiful single family home neighborhood over there, distinctive from the crowded and unsightly Asbury Park condo approach on the other side of the Lake.  But, keep in mind that the Redevelopers/owners of that North End property are private entities and they do have rights.

COLDPLAY.  ” A Sky Full of Stars.”  2015 Grammy Nominee.  This goes out to Wisher of Ocean Grove:

“‘Cause you’re a sky, cause you’re a sky full of stars

I’m gonna give you my heart

‘Cause you’re a sky, cause you’re a sky full of stars

‘Cause you light up the path”

 

 

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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.

RELEVENT LINKS AND NOTES BELOW:

1.   North end plan from 2008**

http://www.neptunetownship.org/sites/default/files/archive/documents/EDC/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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