DATE: Saturday, June 25, 2016
WHAT: General Membership Meeting of the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association
WHERE: Community Room on Pilgrim Pathway
At 10:04 am President Ann Horan opened the meeting and led the homeowners in a moment of silence and then the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ann gave her monthly announcements:
- Monday July 4 — the annual Ocean Grove Fourth of July parade.
- Friday July 15 – the Historical Society sponsored Summer House Tour (volunteers are needed).
- Save the date – Saturday August 27 OGHOA Summer Breakfast at the Starving Artist starting at 9:00am: invited guests will be US Congressman Chris Smith, State Senator Jennifer Beck, State Representatives Eric Houghtaling and Joanne Downey, and Neptune Township Mayor Kevin McMillan.
Next Ann introduced our guest speaker, Dr. Philip Orton: With a Ph.D.in physical oceanography from Columbia University, Dr. Orton is an assistant professor at Stevens Institute of Technology and researcher in fluid dynamics. His talk was on major storms and flooding in Ocean Grove, past, present and future. While Sandy was a monstrous storm, numerous comparable storms have impacted Ocean Grove in the past: many in town are not aware that the pier was even more damaged in a 1992 Northeaster.
Based on solid scientific research, his talk was hardly doomsday. Ironically to date the greater cause of higher seas relative to the shore is the fact that over the past 100 years the land of New Jersey has sunk some 8” in the ebb and retreat of world land masses. However, global warming is now causing the oceans to rise at an exponential rate and reversing that warming is a major challenge for the future. As for hurricanes in the future, Dr. Orton cautiously predicted a good news bad news scenario: fewer hurricanes, but hurricanes of greater intensity.
Ann then opened the Membership Business Meeting:
- Neither of our Police liaisons — Lieutenant Michael McGhee or Officer Serai Lavendero — were able to attend, and for the first time over many months we were without an always well appreciated recap of recent police activity.
- Neither could Treasurer George Germann attend so Ann deferred the treasurer’s report to the July meeting. Note: there were no significant major financial transactions in the past month other than a withdrawal from the Legal Fund referred to below in Barbara Burns’ update on the ground rent controversy.
- Ann opened the floor for nominations for the July 23 OGHOA Elections. Nominated and seconded were:
- For President – Barbara Burns
- For Vice President – Richard Williams
- For Treasurer – George Germann
- For Secretary – Theresa Checki
- For Trustee – David Phillips.
- Joyce Klein, chair of the Parking Committee, had important updates:
- At the Township Committee’s request, a June 13 Committee Workshop was shifted to an earlier time to allow for significant discussion of the Parking Committee proposals which committee members had received and reviewed in advance. In reality, other than a discussion of “low hanging fruit” – parking of commercial vehicles and dumpsters in town – no discussion ensued and homeowner attendees were offended.
- However, in the aftermath of that Committee Meeting fiasco the Township did take initial steps to form a Parking Task Force with township, police and CMA representation with inclusion of two Parking Committee Members (Joyce Klein and Richard Williams were offered).
- Joyce presented a three-prong initiative for homeowners to follow: an email writing campaign, a sign-up sheet to attend future Township meetings, and a petition to demand that the Parking Task Force take serious action on parking in Ocean Grove and establish deadlines for decisions that permit preparation for the 2017 summer season. Because some components of the original “package” are controversial among homeowners – most notably parking meters – the petition does not delineate specifics.
- On Monday June 27, Parking Committee members Joyce Klein, Barbara Burns, and David Phillips will have their second meeting with the CMA to press for the usage of the North End lot for parking until the time when the North End Development actually begins.
- There was lengthy discussion after Joyce’s update and much rehashing of previous meeting discussions: strongly reiterated were the well understood concerns of homeowners close to the ocean over parking meters. Connie Ogden reported that the proposed Parking Task Force was to also include two OG homeowners at large, and that she and Ray Defaria had been selected.
- Vice President Barbara Burns reported on recent developments with town-wide reactions to recent significant increases in CMA ground rents on a “case-by-case” basis.
- A town-wide Ground Rent Committee has been formed to spearhead counter actions to these ground rent increases: it includes representation of town merchants, innkeepers, realtors, and the OGHOA (Barbara is a member).
- The committee has created the legal entity For Ten Fifty Inc. for financial operation. The company has initial funding of $10k from matching $5k contributions by the OGHOA and town merchants/ innkeepers.
- A retainer of $7,500 has been paid to Attorney Matt Adams from the Philadelphia-based firm Fox Rothschild. His initial mandate is to help define what legal options are realistic so that strategies and goals can be clearly defined.
- Most important, all involved want transparency and non-random calculable standards for ground rents that permit planning for property sales and development. Barbara stressed that litigation is not a goal of the initiative.
- The CMA has expressed a desire to meet and efforts are being made to set up that meeting.
- In resultant discussion, a question was raised about whether the BOT should have brought to membership a vote on the decision to contribute $5k from the Legal Fund to For Ten Fifty Inc. Barbara defended the right of the board to move quickly when times demand to make reasonable and responsible financial decisions that reflect the best interests of the homeowners. She promised that should any more significant expenditure be required, the homeowners will be included in the process.
- Trustee Joan Venezia relayed that she has learned that the Township has also taken action, sending a letter to the CMA requesting a meeting on the same topic: they are concerned that if property values are impacted by ground rent controversies the tax base of Ocean Grove could be affected.
- Finally, Kathy Arlt, chair of the Derelict Building Committee, spoke briefly on two issues:
The township abandoned property ordinance:
- She discussed a June 7 Asbury Park Press article that covered the court dismissal of a pending abandoned property ordinance $500 fine for Sandra Solly, owner of a home at 96 Lawrence Avenue that has been on the township abandoned property list.
- Ms. Solly had conceded that she does not live in the house and has been waiting for the right time to sell. She argued that the house should not therefore be classified as abandoned. The house and property are not in good condition. Another criterion for the house to be classified as abandoned is failure to pay taxes, and Ms. Solly even admitted she has not paid her taxes this year. A state superior court judge felt that the wording of the abandoned property ordinance was vague and arbitrary, and supported Ms. Solly’s case.
- Kathy – who passionately defends the ordinance for making a significant difference in the number of abandoned and derelict houses in town – was very upset that neither Code Enforcement Director Bill Doolittle nor Township Attorney Gene Anthony knew anything about the case and felt that all the key players in the management and enforcement of the ordinance had to be working together as a team.
- Kathy confessed continuing frustration between what the Township Committee thinks and understands about the CLG application process, and what we heard presented by Jonathan Kinney and Andrea Tingey of NJ SHPO, the State Historic Preservation Office, at our April Homeowner Meeting.
- She advised that at the June 27 Township Meeting township planner Jennifer Beahm will be discussing CLG and Kathy urged as many homeowners as possible to attend this meeting to press for completion of the application process.
There being no further business, Ann adjourned the Meeting at 11:56 am.
SUBMITTED BY: Richard Williams, OGHOA Secretary