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Posts Tagged ‘RSIS issues in Ocean Grove’

Entrance to Ocean Grove at Main Avenue. Blogfinger photo.

FROM FRAN HOPKINS:

I had to read and re-read the two Neptune Township letter excerpts* a few times until I finally “got it.” In 2005, Neptune Township asked that it be allowed to require only on-street parking in Ocean Grove. The State said “no.” In 2009, the Township asked a second time, but rephrased the request to ask that it be allowed to prohibit off-street parking in Ocean Grove. This is the same thing, just worded differently, if I’m understanding this correctly; and again, the state said “no.”  The 2005 Township request said that it would apply to “future residential development”; the 2009 request said it would be “new residential development.”

In denying its repeated requests to not have to require off-street parking in Ocean Grove, the State reminded the Township that, since 1997–eight and 12 years, respectively, before Neptune made these requests–Neptune (of which Ocean Grove is a part) had been required, by law, to comply with the RSIS standards (including the parking requirements).

Also, the State’s 2005 letter was clear that RSIS applies to “all site improvements” involving residential development. The State didn’t limit RSIS’s applicability to new development only; yet that’s what the Township specified in its subsequent 2009 request. I don’t know enough about this to know the differences in meaning among “future residential development,” “new residential development,” and “all site improvements for residential development,” but I would think that the State’s wording is much broader.

So if I’m a reader who knows nothing about this situation except what I’ve read in these letter excerpts, I can only conclude that:

1. From 1997 through 2005, the Township complied with RSIS and required off-street parking in Ocean Grove for all site improvements for residential development, since apparently it didn’t ask the State during this time to permit it to NOT comply.

2. From 2005 through 2009, Neptune Township continued to adhere to the RSIS standards (including those related to parking) in Ocean Grove because the State affirmed in response to the Township’s 2005 request that its compliance was required by law.

3. From 2009 through the present, the Township remained, and remains, in compliance with RSIS standards because the State reiterated in 2009 that the Township (including Ocean Grove) was legally required to comply.

I’m sure I’m oversimplifying this, but is my reasoning correct? If it is, then do my conclusions accurately describe what’s occurred in Ocean Grove since 1997? If not, why? Despite what the State said, are there/have there been legal ways for Neptune Township to bypass RSIS? For example, would non-compliance be legally possible because of Ocean Grove’s Historic District designation? But if that were the case, then why did the State deny a non-compliance request for Ocean Grove twice?

I did come across the December 17, 2015 minutes of the NJ Site Improvement Advisory Board (SIAB) that Blogfinger and others attended. I saw a statement in there in response to comments by Kevin Chambers:

“Chairman Doyle and Ms. McKenzie responded by explaining that enforcement is a local issue. Towns have the ability to reduce the parking required for a specific project. There is flexibility built into the parking requirements in the rules. Notice is provided to the Board when a de minimis exception or agreement to exceed has been approved to enable the Board to continue to review the rules, and to make revisions, when necessary. Chairman Doyle added that any evidence of corruption should be reported to the proper agencies.”

Was the SIAB saying that it’s OK to make “exceptions” to the parking requirements, as long as SIAB is notified? Has the Township been doing this? Maybe not, and perhaps that’s why its “special area standards” applications have been denied — because the SIAB knows full well that the Township has been disregarding the RSIS standards all along.

The thing I’m still not “getting” is how it could be that residential development that’s not in compliance with state standards–i.e., that’s illegal–has been going on in Ocean Grove for 20 years. I was an Ocean Grove homeowner for only a short time and hope that longer-time residents can explain this.

I do know that the extreme lack of convenient parking, which was only getting worse, was one of the main reasons I decided I had to leave last summer. It’s unbelievable and upsetting to think that the people whom residents entrusted with the care of this uniquely beautiful little area are the ones who let this happen.

Why does Ocean Grove remain part of Neptune Township? I know a vote to secede from the Township failed in 1980 (although a majority of Ocean Grove voters were in favor of the move). It may be time to try again.

Editor’s note:  We welcome Fran Hopkins’ attempt to penetrate what seems almost impenetrable. The RSIS story in Ocean Grove is complex, so her summary and her questions are well worth airing out now for a 2017 update.

And, here is a link to a 2011 Blogfinger post, updated to 2015, where Kevin Chambers offers a brilliant summary regarding  this issue. Don’t miss Kevin’s discussion by clicking on the link below.

Chambers on RSIS parking

–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.  May 1, 2017.

*2 letters from State to Neptune

JENNIFER THAYER:


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