Real Transparency

Oct 19, 2016

To the Editor:

After renting for many summers on the Island, we were fortunate in 2004 when my wife’s mother sold us her place in Holgate, a “Shapiro shack” she and my wife’s dad bought in 1978. When I retired in 2011, we built a new home on the property. We planned our new house to fit into the neighborhood, and provide us a comfortable year-round home. We received our final CO in August 2012, just 90 days before Sandy blew in. 

We weathered the evacuation and disruptions of Sandy, and being displaced from Holgate as we repaired the damage to our new home. We didn’t sustain significant damage to our new home, due in large part to the protections afforded us and our neighbors by the wetlands to our north and a tract of vacant land to our south, both of which absorbed much of the back-bay flooding from the west and took the energy from any of the primary coastal surge that came from the east.

Imagine, then, our shock when soon after we started repairs on our home, one of the first infrastructure projects initiated by the current Long Beach Township administration was the development of a paper street to our south, taking away that tract of vacant land that had helped save us and many of our neighbors from more severe storm damage. 

The tract was stripped of all its vegetation, graded and the groundwater was pumped from the tract into the bay. New gas and electric service connections were installed. New sewer lines and connections were run. Curbs and street paving were completed. All this was done as much of the rest of the township remained looking like a war zone from Sandy. 

During this same period, the LBT building codes were modified. Changes were made to allow structures to be built to 34 feet (non-oceanfront) and 36 feet (oceanfront) above the crown of the road. This was attributed to new-build homes having to be elevated to meet the revised base flood elevations. That was reasonable. 

Another code change, however, modified the “rear set back” for “some homes” in LBT. For lots of 75 feet deep or less, the “new” rear property line setback minimum was lowered from 20 feet to 10 feet. This change was permitted even on “standard lot sizes” of 6,000 square feet. So now new-build homes 34 feet tall were allowed to be built within 10 feet of the rear property line, and in some cases almost “on top” of their neighbors in existing homes.

It seems oddly coincidental that the “new street” developed by LBT (Judith Avenue) had lots that are 75 feet in depth. And who is the developer of that street, you might ask? Mancini Custom Homes. Yes, Mancini, as in Mayor Mancini. Coincidence? Some of us think not. 

The changes made to LBT ordinances that seemingly favor developers and ignore many of the resident homeowners seem to be discussed “in private” and only “rubber stamped” at the “public meetings.” 

Further, the new homes being constructed on Judith are “monsters.” Little, if any, thought was given to their design “fitting” into the existing neighborhood; rather they were designed and built to maximize the developer’s profit potential: five- to six-bedroom, four- to five-bath homes.  Meanwhile, no street lights were placed on the “new” street, apparently as a cost savings for the builder. So buyer beware, personal safety is solely your responsibility, apparently. 

Also, as a “dead end street,” current code states, “Dead end streets shall be avoided whenever possible. If their use is unavoidable, turnarounds having a minimum radius of 50’ shall be provided at the streets’ end.” None was planned or built on Judith, another “cost savings” passed on to the developer, Mayor Mancini.

So why is “transparency” a major factor in the upcoming election? These are just a couple examples why. And that’s why this November, I’m voting for Myers, Hagler and Beaty. They will provide us real transparency, not just talk about “open doors.”  And they will provide us taxation with true representation – for all LBT taxpayers, not just contractors and developers.

Douglas Shearer




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