May 2016

DATE:  Saturday, May 28, 2016

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

WHERE:  Community Room on Pilgrim Pathway

MINUTES:

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.

First up was Guest Speaker, Captain Steve Nagiewicz, a commercial diver, dive boat operator, and recognized authority on shipwrecks. He gave a PowerPoint enhanced presentation on the near 400-year history of nearly three thousand shipwrecks off the coast of New Jersey. Ranging from Ocean Grove’s closest shipwreck, the 3-masted 160’ Swedish schooner Rjukan which in 1876 sank some 200’ offshore, to the sinking of hundreds of ships by German U-boats along our coastline, his talk was utterly fascinating and entertaining. Homeowners wanting to learn more on this subject can look for Steve’s book “Hidden History of Maritime New Jersey Hidden History of Maritime New Jersey.”

Next was the monthly presentation by Lieutenant Michael McGhee, our liaison to the Neptune Police Department.

  • His monthly mantra as Summer is now upon us with more people and more potential problems: lock-up, lights on, be smart, see something – call.
  • Weekly street sweeping regulations are now in effect along Ocean Avenue: follow the signs and avoid tickets.
  • Use the Neptune Police App to report Street lights out.
  • The department has recently added 7 Special Officers (officers with secondary enforcement authority) and 1 full time Officer — these added Officers will be helpful in Ocean Grove, especially in monitoring problems as people park for free in Ocean Grove, go to Asbury Park bars and restaurants, and then return late at night often in questionable condition.
  • The June 24 annual Police Memorial was a very moving and memorable event – for Lieutenant McGhee his 17th – and he encouraged all to attend next year.
  • Wednesday June 1 is the fun annual Cops vs. high school kids softball game that helps to raise awareness of youth drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Lieutenant McGhee admitted he did not know but would research whether locking bikes to street signs is legal, but ironically felt those who do so were at least being attentive to their bikes.
  • He praised the fact that we now have county-wide shared police dispatch operations that foster much faster coordinated response times, citing police in Asbury Park recently responding to an APB and arresting two men who just an hour earlier had attempted to break into a car in Ocean Grove.

Without a break Ann rolled right into the Membership Business Meeting:

Treasurer George Germann gave a very short and positive Treasurer Report noting $435 of income from new membership fees and contributions collected at the May 17th Annual Spring Fling.

Then Ann gave her monthly announcements:

  • Saturday May 28 – the Beautification Committee annual flower sale.
  • Saturday May 28 – the Historic Society auction.
  • Monday May 30 — the annual Memorial Day parade.
  • Saturday June 4 – the annual Ocean Pathway Flea Market.

 

Kathy Arlt, chair of the Derelict Building Committee, cited GREAT progress as the number of derelict buildings continues to drop. In specific:

  • 80 Main is being renovated
  • The Parkview Hotel is in the process of being torn down and will be replaced by 4 single family houses.
  • 101 Clark is for sale.
  • 83 Stockton has a new porch and possibly soon a new roof
  • 71 Mt. Tabor is totally renovated and occupied.

There are only six derelict houses left on the Township list:

  • Of those, three are at least in compliance with the new (and very successful) Vacant Property Registration Ordinance: 57 Embury, 22 Lake, and 96 Lawrence.
  • Three are still three problems: 103 Franklin (both owners and heirs have passed away), 34 McClintock (hung up on reverse mortgage issues), and 69 Webb (owner passed away and it is still in foreclosure).

As for the Township’s pending Certified Local Government (CLG) application which has been in on and off process for some 20 years, Kathy (working closely with Nancy Clark) expressed frustration around Township misunderstanding of the application process. In attempt to clarify the issues, at the last Township meeting Kathy cited specific remarks by two NJ State CLG representatives who spoke at the April 23 Homeowner Meeting. She feels the Township is still hung up on theoretical costs for making the application which Kathy states are not real.

To highlight what Neptune Township/Ocean Grove is missing out on for failure to complete this process, Kathy related that CLG-certified Hopewell township recently won a CLG grant of $25k to assemble a beautiful and broad-reaching book of historic guidelines for Hopewell development.

Finally, she noted 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.

 

Joyce Klein, chair of the Parking Committee, had two important updates:

  • Last week she and other committee members met with the CMA to discuss CMA related parking recommendations from the Parking Committee Report. Their primary goal was to motivate the CMA to open the the North End Parking lot to provide additional town parking. While not refusing, the CMA cited the oft-repeated hazard of underground tunnels and promised consideration. Joyce encouraged all homeowners to contact the CMA in support of North End lot.
  • On Monday June 13 the Parking Committee will present their report to the Township in the Workshop Session starting at 5pm in the Council Chamber on 2nd Floor, and she encouraged all homeowners to attend in support. While attendees are not allowed to speak from the floor at the Workshop session, they can have 5 minutes each at the close of the full Township Committee later in the evening.

In lieu of attendance, homeowners can also send emails to Business Administrator Vito Gadaleta, Municipal Clerk Rick Cuttrell, or to individual Committee members (email addresses for all are on the Township website).

 

Finally, Vice President Barbara Burns addressed the issue of the CMA raising ground rents on a case-by-case basis for sales and development of Commercial properties In Ocean Grove. The concern stems from the recent sale of the Carriage Inn on Heck Avenue where just before the closing it was revealed that the CMA annual ground rent for the property had jumped from $21 to $5,000. The buyer and the seller re-negotiated the cost and the sale did close – but now red flags are being raised on many fronts: businesses and developers are concerned about the impact on future commercial real estate transactions, banks are becoming skitterish about mortgages in Ocean Grove, the Township is concerned about property values (and thus tax returns) being lowered, and homeowners are worried that such commercial ground rent increases might lead to ground rent increases on private homes.

There were many questions and much discussion on topics such as:

  • How does the CMA use ground rent.
  • Who at the CMA is behind the ground rent increases. Are the ground rent increases a sign of financial desperation by the CMA.
  • Is 99-year private home ground rent guaranteed and transferable in perpetuity.
  • Interesting legal questions about ground rent vs. leases vs. deeds.
  • How will this impact the Township-CMA relationship (Carole Rizzo spoke and said the Township was surprised and shocked by Carriage House transaction).
  • How can people see their original leases (answers included look for the title search on your closing, the Historical Society has information on how to research leases, and such information is available in Freehold.
  • The complexity of condos: they are private homes within commercial properties.
  • How is commercial defined. What happens when a commercial property is converted to a private residency. Is rental of a second home a commercial venture.

Barbara closed with 4 important notes:

  • We are in the information gathering phase now – there is no need for panic. We need transparency and stability in the CMA ground rent process.
  • The Chamber of Commerce has formed a committee to research all aspects of this issue (included on the committee are Township Committeeman Randy Bishop and OGHOA VP Barbara Burns).
  • The OGHOA will be sending out a survey for systematic data collection on the status of ground rent within the OGHOA.
  • And in conclusion, what happens to any aggrieved party in town happens to everyone in town – we are united.

There being no further business, Ann adjourned the Meeting at 11:56 am.

SUBMITTED BY:  Richard Williams, OGHOA Secretary