March 2016

DATE:  Saturday, March 26, 2016

WHAT:  General Membership Meeting of the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association

WHERE:  Community Room on Pilgrim Pathway

MINUTES:

With both President Ann Horan and Vice President Barbara Burns away on vacation, Secretary Richard Williams opened the meeting 10:10am, led the homeowners in a moment of silence and then the Pledge of Allegiance.

[Special thanks to Mark Kourey and George Germann for intensive last minute efforts to link Joyce Klein’s Mac computer to the overhead projector enabling her to show PowerPoint during the RSIS Forum.

And special thanks to Vince Cartier for supplying the augmented sound system with a second mike in the aisle to amplify all questions.]

Richard started the meeting with the following announcements:

  • Because there will be a vote on the Jack Bredin motion concerning the township’s intention to refile for Special Area Standards exemption from RSIS regulations, attendees must check in at the front table, verify that their dues are paid (they can pay upon upon checking in), and receive a marked index card that they will hold up when voting.
  • Township Committeewoman Carol Rizzo (who replaced Eric Houghtaling) will be joining the meeting later in the morning and will speak to the homeowners after the RSIS Forum.
  • The last day to register for the upcoming Neptune school board election is Tuesday, March 29. The actual election for the Board of Ed is Tuesday April 19.
  • The next Township Committee Meeting is this coming Monday the 28th – all are encouraged to attend.
  • Attendees have up to 2pm today to go to the South end parking area to pick up new yard waste containers, a response to legitimate criticism of people using too many plastic bags. For Section B, North of Main Street, next pickups are the week of April 10; for Section C, South of Main Street, next pickups are the week of April 3.
  • There will be a special Homeowner Meeting on Saturday April 9th at 10:00am in the Community Room. At this meeting the OGHOA Parking committee will give a preliminary presentation of multi-tiered parking recommendations to help alleviate (but not fix) both North side and seasonal parking congestion as well as address commercial vehicle parking in Ocean Grove.

Next Lieutenant Michael McGhee (Patrol Officer Sarai Lavandero was also in attendance), our liaison to the Neptune Police Department gave his monthly update on Police activity and news:

  • Lieutenant McGhee confirmed that after a significant two-year application effort the Neptune Police Department had proudly received official NJ State accreditation that affirms the excellence of the department in adhering to sound police procedures and policies.
  • He reviewed the Police press release on the March 21 early morning incident at Pilgrim Pathway and Franklin where two men, one armed, attempted to break into a parked car that was thwarted by the unexpected man in the car. Both suspects fled, but after an APB description was sent out, within an hour both were arrested by Asbury Park police.
  • Lieutenant McGhee answered many homeowner traffic and parking questions including needed stop signs, pedestrian risk with speeding cars, re-painting of street no-park zones, and possible towing of abandoned cars.
  • As he does every month, he reminded the homeowners of Police willingness to follow up on any and all calls concerning possible incidents and infractions: although the police patrol routinely the town, they cannot see everything, and we all are in essence the welcome extension of police surveillance.
  • In conclusion, he called attention to the great success of the police Facebook page, encouraging all to visit and friend the site.

The Special Area Standards and RSIS Parking Forum – Part II

BACKGROUND

In 1976, Ocean Grove was officially designated both a State and National Historic District. The 2011 Neptune Township revised master plan for Ocean Grove included Special Area Standards appropriate for development and parking in the very dense layout of historic Ocean Grove. With a goal of preserving this unique layout the Township now wants those Special Area Standards officially granted as an exemption from RSIS, the state’s Residential Site Improvement Standards. The Township had submitted an application last Fall that was dismissed without prejudice by the SIAB (Site Improvement Advisory Board) that oversees RSIS: the Township is currently in the process of revising that application for re-submission.

The February OGHOA Meeting had an open forum to discuss RSIS standards and the Townships pending revised application for Special Area Standards. It was an animated meeting that covered a wide range of topics. There was special focus on the potential of an increasing number of hotel and inn conversions to condominiums that would add even more on-street parking to an already over-stressed parking dynamic in Ocean Grove. The meeting culminated with a motion put forth by Jack Bredin for the OGHOA to adopt an official position on this complex topic. A vote on that motion was deferred until this OGHOA March Meeting.

THE FORUM

Trustee and Chair of the Parking Committee Joyce Klein led Part II of the parking forum. She opened by re-presenting the PowerPoint that was shown at the February Homeowner’s meeting (viewable on the OGHOA website under the Parking Committee page). This presentation highlighted:

  • An overview of RSIS.
  • Highlights of the Neptune Township application for Special Area Standards as exemption form RSIS that was dismissed without prejudice last December.
  • The North End Redevelopment Project’s adherence to RSIS standards.

She made clear that RSIS standards apply only to residential development and not to commercial development.

One of the first member questions sought clarification of the term “developer” which RSIS uses for the party doing a redevelopment: Carol Rizzo, who had arrived at the meeting, did quick research and clarified that “developer” applies to anyone doing re-development, and that would include a homeowner working on his or her own.

Joyce had a new PowerPoint presentation that was her guide for the rest of the forum. The first part of that presentation addressed the potentially draconian implications of across-the-board application of RSIS standards in Ocean Grove. Many questions started with “if my house burned to the ground…”, and most answers hypothesized how restricting the rebuild would be under RSIS standards.

Joyce then shifted the focus to suggestions for a hybrid-type application where Special Area Standards would be granted to some areas of development and RSIS standards applied to others. Before introducing Jack Bredin, she cited Roberts Rules of Order as the guidelines for discussion and voting.

Ocean Grove resident Jack Bredin then reintroduced the motion he had made at the last homeowner meeting:

The OGHOA is in favor of the Neptune Township Committee re-filing an application for a waiver from the State RSIS Parking Standard for detached single-family houses only.

The core point of Jack’s motion is that in the 1980’s when Neptune Township assumed control of Ocean Grove, the master plan and zoning ordinances committed to single family homes. Previous multi-family dwellings were grandfathered, but future multi dwellings were prohibited. The town would “evolve into a single family Victorian town” with mixed use of residential, commercial along Main Avenue, and the area around Auditorium Park as the town center.

Now Jack feels the opposite is happening: the township is excessively granting zoning variances for multi-family dwellings – “multi family condominiums are spreading up like mushrooms” – with stressed town-wide parking being further exacerbated. By requesting a waiver from RSIS standards for only single family houses, Jack believes the core concept of Ocean Grove planning would be maintained and RSIS parking regulations would be the muscle that halts the spread of condominiums, something he feels the Township is not willing to do.

It is important to note that there were some attendees who spoke from a very different point of view:

  • That large hotel and inn condo conversions are not rampant, and that the few that might be converted would not dramatically increase town parking.
  • That the large hotels and inns in town are historically significant and must be preserved to maintain the full historic essence of Ocean Grove – and if it takes some condo conversions to achieve that, the ends are justifiable.

Another concern sidelined was the new Mary’s Place on Main Avenue as a prime example of runaway development: Joyce clarified that Mary’s Place as a non-profit organization is under different parking category and not subject to the parking regulations under discussion.

There was no argument on Jack’s waiver for single family homes, and the majority of attendees seemed supportive of stemming large condo conversions. The fulcrum of the debate was the future status of the abundant smaller two and three family homes in town: a dialogue ensued that circled around wording that could broaden the scope of Jack’s motion. Under Jack’s motion, if an existing two-family house on a 30×60 lot were to burn to the ground, its rebuild would be as per RSIS standards, and by strict interpretation could only be re-built as a single family house with one bedroom.

However, Jack countered that while existing two and three family houses are grandfathered, new ones are not permitted under current zoning laws and there was no need to include them in his motion. He refused any request for amendments to his motion.

His motion was called to a vote, and with 12 in support and 43 opposed, the motion did not carry.

After the vote on the motion there were a few remaining issues discussed. Most important a question was raised about the OGHOA letter rumored to have been submitted back in December with the Township’s application that was supportive of the application. It was clarified that a letter was hastily written by the Board of Trustees in broad support of the Township’s goals and was sent to the SIAB: because the December hearing was canceled, the letter was returned undocumented and it is no longer an official position statement of the board.

Joyce and Richard closed the forum with the promise that this discussion is not over and that the OGHOA’s position on the pending Township re-application for Special Area Standards is still a vital topic under review. The Township has pledged an open hearing once their application is revised, and the OGHOA will be aggressively involved with that process. They also promised that Joyce’s second PowerPoint presentation would be posted to the OGHOA website.

New Township Committeewoman Carole Rizzo introduced herself and spoke to the membership briefly. In summary;

  • She has had a house in the Ocean Grove for 15 years and is now a full-time resident.
  • She is proud to be a Grover, loves the people, and loves the town’s quirkiness.
  • She made a pledge that anything raised at Township Meetings that would affect Ocean Grove would be reported back to the OGHOA and she will attend as many homeowner meetings as possible.
  • She lives near one of the bridges to Asbury Park and understands intimately the parking problems caused by people from Asbury Park parking for free in Ocean Grove. She is as eager as anyone to hear the proposals from the OGHOA Parking Committee.
  • In closing she invited all to reach out to her on any issues deemed important to Ocean Grove – she can be accessed by email at crizzo@neptunetownship.org

She was warmly thanked and appreciated for her supportive remarks.

Because the meeting ran long, it was decided to forego the sole item on the agenda for the membership business meeting – Treasurer George Germann’s report – and thus…

There being no further business, Richard adjourned the Meeting at approximately noon.

SUBMITTED BY:  Richard Williams, OGHOA Secretary