Posts Tagged ‘Warrington fire investigation’

The remains of the Warrington Hotel. APP photograph. ©

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

If you have been following the Warrington Hotel story, you know that the owner of that Lake Avenue derelict structure wanted to turn the old building into a boutique hotel, and he did receive approvals from Neptune Township.  But the fire in March, 2017 totally destroyed the property, leaving just a charred brick foundation.  As a result, the prior approvals were null and void, so the owner would now be required to put up single family houses instead.

The back story on this is that the Warrington already was a flawed property, having been built on a lot that is not facing a street and without a documented easement to get access to Seaview Avenue.  Before the fire there were two cottages that separated the Warrington from a Seaview Avenue frontage.  The back of the property faces the Lake, but Lake Avenue is not a street.

In addition, the Federal ATF investigation of the fire is evidently still ongoing; at least we have heard no conclusions from that.

The owner of the hotel then brought a suit in Monmouth Superior Court against the Township last November, trying to get the pre-fire approvals for a hotel reinstated.  But the Township insisted on following its Zoning Ordinances which forces  such properties to be zoned single family, as occurred with the Manchester Inn on Ocean Pathway.

At last night’s Committee meeting, where the Warrington was not on the agenda, an inconvenient truth was revealed.  It turns out that the Warrington suit had been dismissed two months ago.  We say “inconvenient” because, like so many facts buried under a translucent shroud at the Mother Ship, this fact was not mentioned publicly since it occurred 2 months ago.  A review of the APP archives shows no awareness of the dismissal.

And since more than 45 days have elapsed, it seems that the owner has not filed an appeal at the Appellate Division.  In fact, given the need to enforce the landlock rules, RSIS parking laws, and the current zoning for single family, this property may now be good for nothing–ie a dead duck; not  fit for any life on the shore of the Wesley Detention/Retention Basin.

The public learned about the dismissal last night from the Township Attorney when pressed by Blogfinger‘s reporter, Jack Bredin during the public session.  The Township Clerk said that the law suit paperwork was available in his Neptune office.

The owner may have to take his plans, present and future, and follow Little Richard who says “ball it up” or “rip it up.”  Maybe the site would make a lovely waterfront park or playground.

And the Township may be able to take some bows for doing the right thing for the Grove in this case.



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This is the Whitfield Hotel as it was being demolished on Jan. 22, 2017. Note the security fence around the property. Photo by Christopher Poverman, Esq. ©  Click to see the fence better.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

Doug Walden signs his emails, “Burned out of 29 Seaview Avenue, Apt D. Ocean Grove, NJ.” He barely escaped with his life.    Doug is one  of the fire victims  who are looking into a law suit regarding that March 3 Warrington fire.  After a difficult time—he suffered lung injuries from the smoke and he lost all his possessions—he has now found housing in the Grove and he is trying to get back to his job and recover from the stress of that horrid experience.

Doug is a persistent person who has made it his business to personally participate in investigating this tragedy.  In an interview with Blogfinger, Doug mentioned that he believed that the Warrington should have been better secured, in the same way that the Whitfield was, and that effective security fencing could have possibly prevented the fire. He has other concerns as well regarding how that fire might have been prevented

The photograph above was taken by a Spring Laker, Christopher Poverman, Esq. who pointed out that a contractor was working on the Warrington  2 1/2 blocks away when this Whitfield photograph was obtained. I was over there myself watching the workers, and there was no fence isolating the property.

Mr. Poverman asked, “Why wasn’t the Warrington secured like this?”

Neptune Mayor Michael Brantley spoke about the cause of the fire at the May 8 Committee meeting.  He said that the fire was “incendiary” and then he said that it was either intentionally caused by an “arsonist” or accidentally set by a “vagrant.”   The township lawyer used the word, “vagabond.”

But it seems like the word “incendiary” means intentional.  The Mayor’s language, presented in a formal written statement,  was confusing, and the investigators at the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office have so far made no formal announcement about the cause of the fire. The Asbury Park Press has avoided reporting on the cause until the investigators have concluded their evaluation so it’s not clear why the Mayor decided to make that statement on May 8, and we don’t know who wrote the text. 

We found two definitions online.  We do need some official clarification regarding the words to describe the cause of that terrible fire.

  • Incendiary – A fire intentionally ignited under circumstances where the person knows the fire should not be ignited.
  • Arson – The crime of maliciously and intentionally, or recklessly, starting a fire or causing an explosion.

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