Condos, houses, shops and hotels in Ocean Grove are up for discussion at Neptune
NEPTUNE — Residents have convinced the Neptune Town Commission to postpone a decision that would allow development at the north end of Ocean Grove, a plan that includes a mix of retail, condominiums, single-family homes, a hotel and an underground parking garage.
The plan dates back to 2018, when Michael Badger, then president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, said the organization reached a development agreement with a group of investors to create a new 40-room hotel, 39 condominium units, and 10 single-family homes, along with retail space. New retail in the area.
A portion of the land at the north end of Ocean Grove on Spray Avenue has not been developed since 1978, when the North End Hotel was demolished due to “high maintenance costs and declining care,” according to Asbury Park Press archives.
But the key to the project is an underground parking garage, which officials said is necessary. For many years, Ocean Grove has dealt with parking issues that worsen in the summer months with beach traffic and Asbury Park patrons looking for free parking at Ocean Grove, which is a short walk to the south.
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He asked the town committee to approve a pair of resolutions and an ordinance. The first resolution will authorize a settlement agreement and amended redevelopment agreement between the town and developer OG North End Development LLC (OGNED).
The second decision requires that the amended development plan be referred to the Planning Council for review.
The proposed ordinance would approve the amended redevelopment plan.
“Residents don’t want it”
During the public comment portion of the Nov. 13 Town Commission meeting, Ocean Grove resident Andy Levin said there were “100 reasons to vote no” on the resolutions.
“But let me share with you the most important reason; the residents don’t want it. I haven’t talked to anyone in Ocean Grove who wants this project to move forward. The Camp Meeting Association wants it to move forward, and they understand that it will benefit from their proceeds,” Levin said. “.
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Founded in 1869 by Methodist clergy, Ocean Grove is known for its Victorian houses and grand ballroom, which frequently attracts religious gatherings. It is commonly known by the nickname “God’s Square Mile”. It is part of the town of Neptune, but the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association owns most of the land except for the streets. Homeowners and businesses there rent their land from the association.
“The developer wants to move forward, and will sell a lot of apartments,” Levin added.
“But the residents, we don’t want 39 apartment units. We don’t want a 40-room hotel. We don’t want 10 single-family homes, we don’t want four retail stores, (and) we don’t want an underground parking garage in the distance,” Levine said. A few hundred feet from the ocean.”
Many residents expressed concerns about the parking lot and its proximity to the ocean, and many noted that flooding is an ongoing problem in the town. Less than two months ago, Lake Wesley between Ocean Grove and Asbury Park burst its banks, inundating businesses along Lake Avenue in Asbury.
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Guidelines for historic preservation
The town’s Historic Preservation Commission discussed the plans with the developer for several months, Levin said.
Before doing any work on the exterior of a residence or business in Ocean Grove, owners must obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Town Historic Preservation Commission, which is governed by the Ocean Grove Historic District Architectural Design Guidelines for Residential and Commercial Structures, in accordance with municipal guidelines. Law.
“When they compared the plans to the design guidelines, they found 101 violations and voted unanimously to deny the certificate of suitability. They’re the experts here, that’s what they do. I don’t expect (the township commission) to be experts.” “In historic preservation,” Levin said.
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“I think it would be grossly negligent of you to agree to this tonight. You haven’t done your homework,” he added.
Richard Williams, president of the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association, said the vote had to be postponed because there was not enough time to consider the latest proposal.
Williams added that he could not imagine the amount of time it took a team of lawyers to prepare those documents, “yet you asked us to digest, evaluate and comment on them in less than 48 hours.”
Commission member Robert Lane said he believes both resolutions regarding the development should be tabled.
“Give the residents time to look at it, and so do we,” Lane said.
All resolutions, as well as the related ordinance, were presented to the Nov. 27 Town Commission meeting by a vote of 4-0. Committee member Michael Brantley was absent.
Ocean Grove Tents are a true community
Every year people rent tents surrounding Ocean Grove’s grand auditorium to enjoy the community feel found there.
Peter Ackerman, Asbury Park Press
Charles Day is a metro reporter for Asbury Park and Neptune, focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion. @CharlesDyeAPP Contact him: CDaye@gannettnj.com