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Posts Tagged ‘Zoning in Ocean Grove’

Ocean Grove beach. June, 2002. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

 

Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger

Jack, Kevin and I left the Mother Ship to return to our car after attending  the Neptune Township Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA)  meeting  May 2, 2018.  But as we walked through the parking lot we were approached by a couple who had attended the Aurora Hotel hearing but did not say a word during the hearing for which they had traveled one hour to attend.

They said that they moved to the Grove in 2005 because they thought it was a “charming and special place.”   Like so many who have moved here, they had fallen in love with this unique small town, but in recent years, they noticed a decline in their quality of life.

They mentioned the noise and congestion.  A strong sense of community had failed to materialize.  Parking had become awful, and the town was becoming overrun with tourists who often clogged the streets causing gridlock that was becoming progressively worse.

The heavy-handed Neptune government was allowing a deterioration of  historical preservation, culture and zoning in the Grove, and their decisions were causing perceptible damage to life styles for residents.

They thought the taxes were  exorbitant for what they received in return.  Then they had enough and moved to a New Jersey town that was more appealing to them. They still own their OG home, but they rented it out.

The couple  came to the meeting with the slim hope that the ZBA would do the right thing for one of OG’s historic treasures, but they were disappointed by the indicators at the hearing.  Their plan now is to sell their OG home.

We know others who also have moved or are thinking about leaving for a variety of similar reasons. One of those reasons is the inconsistency of the HPC.  And then there are the wrong-headed, impotent Home Groaners.  The Chamber just makes things worse with their self-interested giant mega events.

As for zoning, “The primary purpose of zoning is to segregate uses that are thought to be incompatible. But in practice, zoning also is used to prevent new development from interfering with existing uses and/or to preserve the ‘character’ of a community.  (Wikipedia.)”     In other words, zoning is supposed to offer protection and to level the land-use playing field for everyone.

The NY State Office of General Counsel says,  “Courts have regularly found a legitimate purpose in zoning regulations which are aimed at achieving a homogeneous, traditional single-family neighborhood. ”

But in the town of Ocean Grove, special interests get to defy land use laws in order to provide special deals for developers, politicians, the CMA, and others. An example is the designation of the North End as an area in need of redevelopment, abolishing desirable single family housing zoning.

Residents experience growing frustration and find themselves at the bottom of the priority list.

Ocean Grove, after peaking and looking like it had a bright future as a marvelous place to live year-round, has shown unmistakable signs of losing ground in the quest to evolve into a fair-minded residential historic district with unique character, culture and community.

 

GERRY MULLIGAN.  “Here’s That Rainy Day.”

 

 

 

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It’s all about protecting Ocean Grove as a unique place in America. Paul Goldfinger photo ©   This is the OG side of Wesley Lake.  c. 2012.

In the guest editorial below, Kevin Chambers threatens to sue Neptune Township once again over zoning violations in the Grove which he calls “a travesty of the law:”

“The township is in direct violation of law and in contempt of court. When the State Legislature established RSIS, (Residential Site Improvement Standards)  it required all towns to establish a minimum lot size that included parking.

“An OG lot is non-conforming to the law. It may be a pre-existing non-conforming lot, but Neptune Township cannot by law use it for their definition as a conforming lot. The Township has perpetuated nonconforming lots by calling them “historic.”  When RSIS was created, Neptune was under a court order, as all towns were, to create lots that met this requirement.

“Neptune has knowingly been using a non-conforming lot size for their standard for Ocean Grove. This is different from the rest of Neptune.    All three Neptune Attorneys have known this, but because of Judge Lawson, a past Mayor of Neptune, who protected and permitted Neptune to violate the law to collect greater taxes, the residents of Ocean Grove were endangered.

“I will be suing any attorney who permits the continuation of this violation of law through their clear intent to commit fraud and perjury.

“The definition of perjury is the withholding of facts relevant to a court case. All  these Neptune Township attorneys have been withholding the fact that the Township is in direct violation of law and in contempt of a court order.  That is perjury.
“I believe that Ms. Krimko (the homeowners’  lawyer) withdrew the Heck Avenue driveway application because it would have forced her zoning expert to testify that the township’s zoning for OG is truly in violation of law and in contempt of the court’s order.

” Even if Krimko tried to have her expert circumvent this fact, I would have forced it. It would have shown that for each and every application that has created a condo, it has been through a violation of law on the part of  attorneys representing Neptune.

“I will also be filing against the Township when they try to create new parking on Main Avenue without first bringing the zoning for OG. These parking spaces are a way to circumvent the requirement for the 15 parking spaces required for the 11 units that was illegally created on Main Ave. I’m going to use this argument to bring my case back into court to have Judge O’Brians ruling vacated.

“What is happening in this community is a travesty of the law. The OGHOA is a disgrace–harming the community to what end?

This has to stop sometime. No matter how long it takes I will continue to fight it.

KEVIN CHAMBERS

Ocean Grove, NJ, April 26, 2017

The writer is a long time citizen of OG who has been President of the Historical Society of Ocean Grove. He also is an activist and an expert on land use law.  In the past he has brought a number of suits related to the issues described in his editorial above.

JUDY COLLINS—–for Kevin:

“I’m on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.”

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A small rehab center for short term care in W. Palm Beach Fla. Internet photo.

A small rehab center for short term care in W. Palm Beach Fla. Internet photo.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor at Blogfinger.net

As we noted recently, Gov. Christie said that he would prioritize the problem of opioid substance abuse which has caused many deaths in New Jersey, especially in Essex, Ocean, Camden, and Monmouth Counties.

He is promoting a new bill that would mandate insurance coverage for such treatment by commercial companies. Federal mandates already exist for Medicaid.

Philly.com says, “While the Affordable Care Act requires substance-abuse coverage, New Jersey could account for the federal law’s potential repeal by passing state legislation.” (Source article by Philly.com reporter Maddie Hanna.)

“If the federal law goes away, it reverts to whatever the old state law was,” said Joel Cantor, founding director of the Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers University.

Very few states have such laws. The N.J. proposal would provide for inpatient coverage for up to 30 days for those who qualify. There have been some objections about the emphasis on inpatient vs. outpatient care. The Laingdon proposal for Ocean Grove would seem to fall under the heading of outpatient care, although maybe the housing component would categorize it as inpatient care. Regardless, increased funding would increase the pressure to create more such services for those who would be housed while undergoing treatment. (This is the model described for the Laingdon/Sprout concept.)

Our town would be a perfect location for places to house clients after an inpatient admission or for outpatient care.  We have old hotels/boarding houses as well as homes (especially multi-family) which could be used for small residential operations doing short term care.  But if there is an explosion of investment in such facilities in NJ, the article says that there will be zoning battles around the state (see quote below.)

Here is another quote from the Hanna piece, “There is an inadequate supply of substance-abuse treatment services, period. Not just in New Jersey, but around the country.”

“Others spoke Monday of challenges to opening treatment centers, including zoning battles. ‘I used to have a saying: It’s easier to open up a gentlemen’s club in this state than it is to open up a drug and alcohol treatment program. And that’s not far off from the truth,’ Tom Allen, co-founder of Summit Behavioral Health, told Senate lawmakers.”

It’s important for those of us who care about the Grove’s future, our lifestyles, our  historical preservation, and our home values to keep an eye on zoning approvals and to take them seriously as precedent-setting events.

We cautioned about the zoning manipulation that allowed Mary’s Place, but hardly anyone seemed to care. And, even though the Laingdon application was withdrawn, we need to stay alert.  The key will be the Zoning Board of Adjustment use variances

BARBRA LICA:

 

 

 

 

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Laingdon Hotel.  #8 Ocean Avenue, Ocean Grove.  Blogfinger photo. Jan 5, 2017. Will it become a drug and alcohol  rehab facility?   The conversation resumes. See latest comments.

Laingdon Hotel.  #8 Ocean Avenue, Ocean Grove.  Blogfinger photo. Jan 5, 2017. Will it become a drug and alcohol  rehab facility?   The conversation resumes. See latest comments. Click for more detail.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment will meet in February regarding the Laingdon Hotel (1875). Some Grovers have alerted us  (see quotes below) to this future agenda item which suggests another sneak zoning attack in the Grove.  It seems that “Sprout Health” wants to take over the hotel and close it to the public. They want a “use variance.”

Note that the Laingdon went up for sale in 2014 for $2.9 million.I recall that the owner of the Manchester Hotel said that hotels were not good investments any longer in OG, and he was aiming for condominiums before his hotel burned to the ground in 2010.

The Internet site for Sprout says, “The Sprout Health Group is a healthcare management company that owns and operates drug and alcohol rehab. centers and medical detox. facilities across the United States.”

www.sprouthealthgroup.com

Here is the Zoning Board of Adjustment agenda item in question:

ZB16/19 – Sprout Health, LLC – Block 114, Lot 12 – 8 Ocean Avenue – Applicant has submitted an application for Use Variance to utilize an existing 18 guest room hotel, open to the general public as a 17 guest room hotel, not open to the general public. Applicant is represented by Jennifer S. Krimko, Esq. Notice was not provided for this meeting date. Ms. Krimko has requested this matter be adjourned to the February 2017 meeting date and proper notice will be provided for the new hearing date.

Comments have been rolling into Blogfinger about this, even before we post it. The Laingdon will become a big story in the Grove if it is what we think it is:

From Grover Larry:   “It would appear that The Laingdon Hotel at 8 Ocean is attempting to change use from a hotel to a drug and rehab center run by “Sprout Health Group.”
The agenda refers to the applicant which is usually the owner. Has Hans Kretschman sold the hotel?  Has “Sprout” purchased it?  Something is going on here, Paul.   Just thought you would find this of interest after all the commotion about Mary’s  Place.”

From Rosemary Salow:   ” Please note the application from “Sprout Health” regarding 8 Ocean Ave. I believe this is the Laingdon Inn bed and breakfast, Sprout Health operates drug and alcohol rehab facilities. So if I’m reading this correctly, what is being proposed is that a bed and breakfast be converted into an alcohol and drug rehab facility. Can you shed any light on this?

From Kevin Chambers:   “For a change of use a hotel owner must prove that the hotel use is no longer viable. For the last 40 years every hotel owner that has converted to condos has proved that argument. Then why do we still have hotels in our zoning?”

From Penny:  “I just saw the ZBA agenda item  about turning the beautiful historical (1875) Laingdon Hotel into a rehab center. I am horrified . What is happening to our quaint Victorian town?    One huge building after another which is supposed to “fit in” but won’t if this request is granted.”

From Helen:  “Did you see in the agenda for the Zoning Board that a Health Company owner of 8 Ocean Ave wants to change it. Another Mary’s Place??”

From Harold:  “From company’s name “Health Growth” could be a residential spa….
facility to get well,  or perhaps a house of ill-repute??”

 

Editor’s Note:

Is this deja vu all over again?  Can we ever forget the  sleight of hand that allowed Mary’s Place to receive a special zoning  dispensation as a “community shelter ?” Has the Mary’s Place fiasco become a precedent-setter in the Grove?

Will our historic town become a shopping mall for healthcare facilities?  Will the ZBA allow another mutilation of existing zoning to happen again–this time at a historic site on Ocean Avenue resulting in more congestion and threats to our lifestyle—especially near the North End?   Will this become the last straw that begins a down-hill slide threatening our historic designation and our home values?

This should be addressed by the Home Groaners now before the ZBA goes rogue and forgets whom it represents.   But, unfortunately, the HOA has already forgotten whom it represents.  After all, the HOA is urging implementation of that miserable North End Redevelopment Plan.

Well, don’t get too excited till we all go to that ZBA meeting in February when this proposal is going to be formally presented and we get all the facts. An ad hoc committee independent of the HOA  should form now  to provide trusted vigilance for all Ocean Grove residents and home owners. We have to find out who’s naughty and who’s nice.  Ho, Ho. Ho!

Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger    (originally posted on Dec. 3, 2016 but moved to January 2017 in view of new interest in the subject–see latest comment on Jan 2..)

DORIS DAY:

 

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Blogfinger file photo.  July, 2014

Blogfinger file photo. July, 2014

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

We wrote about this subject in July, 2014  (see link below)  in response to an inquiry about zoning for Mary’s Place. At that time, no applications had come in to George Waterman, the Neptune Township Assistant Land Use Administrator. He is in charge of zoning determinations.

Mary’s Place plans new facility in Ocean Grove

On August 5, the applications came in, and by August 12, the “approved zoning” stamp was issued by Mr. Waterman including permission to merge two lots into one. The plans by Shore Point Architects were then approved by HPC, and construction will begin in early October.

Mary’s Place is a facility without a category. The memo from the Township refers to it as a “Community Shelter”, but it has characteristics of a spa, a quasi-medical facility, a community residence,  or “a place for women to heal.”

As reported by Blogfinger in July, the zoning on that beach block is single family residential, B and B’s and historic hotels. But, as we reported, the State statutes supersede the Neptune zoning regulations. The state says that “Community residences, shelters, and adult family care homes are permitted uses in residential districts. (state statute #40:55D-66.1).”

Under that heading comes this definition: “Community residences for the developmentally disabled, community shelters for victims of domestic violence, community residences for the terminally ill, community residences for persons with head injuries, and adult family care homes for elderly persons and physically disabled adults shall be a permitted use in all residential districts of a municipality, and the requirements therefore shall be the same as for single family dwelling units located within such districts. ”

We asked Mr. Waterman to explain which of the above definitions would Mary’s Place satisfy in order to get zoning approval.

He pointed to  “community residences and shelters” as the main use categories  and then singled out the “terminally ill” part as matching what is done at Mary’s Place. It should be noted that Mary’s Place accepts female clients who have all degrees of cancer.  No medical treatments are conducted there at this time, although Mary’s Place officials speak of creating a place where western and eastern medicine will “compliment” each other.*    Another high official at Neptune Township said that Mary’s Place was approved because it is a sort of “halfway house” as exist for “battered women.”

 

*NJ.com. September 13, 2014

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