DATE: Saturday, July 23, 2016
WHAT: General Membership Meeting of the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association
WHERE: Community Room on Pilgrim Pathway
At 10:05 am President Ann Horan opened the meeting and led the homeowners in a moment of silence and then the Pledge of Allegiance.
OGHOA elections for Officers and one Trustee were held as per the bylaws: attendance was far greater than the minimum required 40-person quorum. All voting members were certified as being in good standing upon entry and were handed cards to hold up when voting. Elected by an overwhelming majority were:
- President – Barbara Burns
- Vice President – Richard Williams
- Treasurer – George Germann
- Secretary – Theresa Checki (first time Officer)
- Trustee – David Phillips (first time Trustee)
Former President Ann Horan (she has served the maximum two terms permitted) moves onto the board as ex-President, and the continuing Trustees are Ken Buckley, Joyce Klein, Mark Kourey, and Joan Venezia. Upon completion of the election, Ann passed the “gavel” to Barbara who conducted the rest of the meeting.
Barbara’s first order of business was to recognize, thank and give gifts to:
- Outgoing ex-President from the BOT – Denis McCarthy
- Retiring Trustee – Janet Whritner
- Retiring President – Ann Horan
Barbara then introduced former Lieutenant, and now newly promoted to Captain, Michael McGhee, our liaison to the Neptune Police Department.
- With regret he informed that Patrol Officer Serai Lavendero who had been our co-liaison had decided to leave the department to take a better position with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office as a detective. On the other side of the coin, the department has hired 5 new officers.
- The department will be making a concerted effort to have special officers at the pedestrian bridges to/from Asbury Park on weekend nights to better manage unruly patrons returning to cars parked (for free) in Ocean Grove. Captain McGhee noted that it was because of OG residents constantly raising this issue that the police are taking these actions and that the police do listen when we voice our concerns.
- In a similar vein, increased effort by the police street crimes unit has focused on several incidents at the Serenity Inn in an effort to address quality of life issues for surrounding residents.
- Bicycle thefts and other petty crimes that usually rise dramatically during the summer are way down and Captain McGhee accredits that in large part to increased effort by residents to follow better security practices.
- In a very emotional moment, Captain McGhee addressed the increasing challenges for, and often criticism of, police officers across our country, pledging that the Neptune Police department is doing all it can to assure the safety and welfare of the entire Neptune community. In return, the home owners gave Captain McGhee an equally emotional round of heart-felt applause and he expressed his deep gratitude for that support.
- Captain McGhee addressed many homeowner questions including fresh painting of yellow lines in no-parking zones and stop sign lines, cars speeding in town, hours of the bridge gates being locked, bicycles on the boardwalk, problems with commercial trucks parking in town, attention to proximity of cooking grills to residences, questionable food vendors on Ocean Avenue, and 18-wheel truck deliveries to the new Dunes Restaurant in the Dweck Building.
- He voiced appreciation for those home owners who attended the Cops vs. Kids softball game (in his own words, the high school kids “smoked” the cops), citing events such as these as why town/police relations are stronger than ever.
- And finally, Captain McGhee did promise that even with his new promotion, he will continue as our police liaison.
Barbara had one announcement: Saturday August 27 will be the OGHOA Summer Breakfast at the Starving Artist starting at 9:00am. Invited speakers are State Senator Jennifer Beck, State Representatives Eric Houghtaling and Joanne Downey, and Neptune Township Mayor Kevin McMillan (US Congressman Chris Smith was invited but will not attend). Tickets are $15, available in advance at the Cheese Shop, and at the door the morning of.
Barbara then opened the Membership Business Meeting:
- Treasurer George Germann gave his report for the last two months as he had been unable to attend the June meeting. Income and expenses for the Operating fund were minimal over both months. $5,000 from the legal fund was given to the town-wide Ground Rent committee (a matching amount was given by the Chamber of Commerce) to cover an initial $7,500 retainer for a legal advice with $2,500 held for future expenditures.
- Joyce Klein, chair of the Parking Committee, had these updates:
At the July 25th Township Meeting the membership of the new formulated Ocean Grove Parking Task Force will be announced. The 12-member Task Force is expected to include: 2 Neptune Township Committee members, 2 OGHOA members (Joyce Klein and Richard Williams), 2 CMA members, 2 Chamber of Commerce members, 2 OG residents at large, and non-voting members Township Engineer Leanne Hoffman, and head of the Police Traffic Division, Lieutenant Michael Zarro.
The OGHOA is championing two initiatives to keep pressure on the Township Committee to commit to action before the summer of 2017.
- Signed petitions that urge the Parking Task Force to take serious action on Parking in Ocean Grove and to establish deadline for decisions. Joyce hopes to present between two to three hundred signatures.
- Sign-up sheets for regular OGHOA member attendance at all future Township Committee meetings (2 per month).
There has been Township Committee discussion about having an Ocean Grove referendum on the November ballot on parking. The OGHOA Parking Committee feels such a referendum has two serious drawbacks: many homeowners live out of town and thus cannot vote in Ocean Grove, and doubt that a one yes-or-no question on the ballot could yield a meaningful amount of information. We prefer that the Township conduct an Ocean Grove wide survey that would be far more inclusive and much more informative.
- President Barbara Burns, member of the town-wide ad hoc Ground Rent Committee, gave an update on CMA ground rents.
That town-wide ad hoc Ground Rent Committee was formed to explore counter actions to recent CMA ground rent increases. It includes representation of town merchants, innkeepers, realtors, and the OGHOA (Barbara represents us). Attorney Matt Adams from the Philadelphia-based firm Fox Rothschild has been retained by the Committee to help define realistic legal options so that strategies and goals can be clearly defined. It is very important to note that there is no litigation under current consideration.
In response to this growing controversy, the CMA has issued a brief statement that future ground rent increases will only apply to change of usage properties on a “case-by-case” basis. However, the sale of the Carriage Inn which first raised the ground rent red flag with its huge ground rent increase was not a change of usage, so CMA wording requires further clarification. The Ground Rent Committee has a meeting on Monday, July 25th, with the CMA for an initial conversation on this complex issue.
In a similar vein, Township Attorney Gene Anthony, and Township Committee Members Randy Bishop and Carole Rizzo, have also met with the CMA to address their own concerns about the Camp Meeting increases in ground rent throughout Ocean Grove. Barbara has not yet heard the results of that meeting.
- North End Committee chair Joan Venezia gave this brief report on the North end redevelopment.
The Gannons and Wave have suffered a setback recently in that one of their new investors unexpectedly passed away. This leaves still in question the status of Wave signing the ground rent agreement with the CMA and the status of Wave submitting their detailed financials to the Township. Joan has been diligently trying to learn more on both these fronts but has yet to receive authoritative answers.
She also reiterated that 18-wheel delivery trucks have been making deliveries to the new North-end Dunes Restaurant in the Dweck building and that neighbors have been complaining of roads blocked, engines left running, and lengthy back-up warning sounds. Joan has received photographs of those trucks and said she would raise the issue with the photographs at the July 25th Township Meeting.
A question was raised about whether something will ever happen at the North End, and Joan pointed out that the current redevelopment plan has no expiration date for execution – so as it has been for many years, resolution is at best open ended speculation.
- Next, Kathy Arlt, chair of the Derelict Building Committee, addressed two topics:
At the June 27 Township Meeting township planner Jennifer Beahm had been scheduled to speak on CLG certification but was unable to attend. In her place Township Tax Assessor Bernard Haney spoke negatively about CLG making several erroneous statements. Kathy’s frustration steadily increases with the Township’s inability to come to grips with both the value of CLG certification and the relative ease of application as had been made clear when Jonathan Kinney and Andrea Tingey of NJ SHPO, the State Historic Preservation Office, discussed CLG certification in detail back at our April Homeowner Meeting.
The township abandoned property ordinance which Kathy has championed has come under scrutiny with an extreme critic seeking to overturn it. Kathy is firmly convinced (as are 85 other NJ townships with comparable ordinances) that the ordinance is a most effective tool for bringing pressure on owners of certified derelict homes to either restore or sell their properties. Furthermore, when properly enforced, the ordinance is also a source of revenue for the township (it has already garnered in excess of $20 thousand for the Township).
In specific, she noted that the ordinance has helped to reduce the number of certified derelict properties in Ocean Grove with just four remaining totally non-compliant challenges: 9 Broadway, 103 Franklin, 34 McClintock and 69 Webb. Kathy will press the Township for further action on these properties at the July 25th Township meeting.
- Joan Venezia brought to everyone’s attention that Kathy Arlt, OGHOA Trustee Ken Buckley, and former OGHOA board member Charles Layton received Beersheba Awards from the OG Historical Society for their many years of outstanding preservation work in Ocean Grove.
- In conclusion, Barbara introduced our guest speaker, Herb Herbst, President of the in-limbo Ocean Grove Fishing Club. Herb, who has been with fishing club for 45 years, gave a colorful parallel history of both the iconic pier and the fishing club at the end of the pier. Two critical moments:
- In 1992 the pier and club were destroyed by a Northeaster. Working in tandem with the Camp Meeting, the fishing club obtained a $196k loan to help rebuild both the pier and the club. That loan was paid off in full.
- In 2012 along came Sandy, and the end of the pier and the fishing club were again both washed away.
Since Sandy, Herb has been frustrated with ambiguities from the CMA about when they plan to restore the pier, and what will be the fate of the fishing club. The fishing club has offered to repeat the process of 1992 that restored the pier: the club has funds in reserve, is willing to seek another loan, and has tried to submit an application to FEMA — but the CMA has been non-committal.
Then Herb literally drew gasps from the audience. Some two months ago, FEMA called Herb, said they had been impressed with the pitch about restoring the historic pier, and that they had found some money. They asked if Herb would like to re-submit an application. Herb and fellow board members of the fishing club have a meeting with the Camp Meeting next Wednesday discuss submitting that new application. Stay tuned…
There being no further business, Barbara adjourned the Meeting at 11:40 am.
SUBMITTED BY: Richard Williams for OGHOA Secretary Theresa Checki