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Back in July, following exposure on FAA News of this issue of concern, Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles preliminary agreed that some serious amendments are necessary to the Township's Open Space Ordinance to pull the plug on developers exploiting the system and cramming in families with no shul and playground.

However, despite being provided some very specific suggestions on how to fix this issue, and despite renewed push from the public, the Township Committee today again pushed back and openly ignored the issue.

The Township Open Space Ordinance (18-808) states:

Not less than 5% of land area of every residential major subdivision or residential site plan consisting of 25 or more units shall be preserved as common open space or shall be dedicated to active recreational or community facilities...

For any project consisting of less than or equal to 30 dwelling units, it is recognized as impractical that recreational facilities be constructed and the payment in-lieu-of-construction is encouraged. For any project over 30 dwelling units the above recreation standards shall apply.

Essentially, the Ordinance requires common open space for land use applications with more 25 units, however, there is an allowance - in fact, an encouragement - for developers to make a payment in-lieu-of-construction for land use applications with 30 or less units.

The main issue with the way this Ordinance is worded is that certain developers have been exploiting this ordinance by, time and again, submitting piecemeal applications to the Planning Board for 24 units or less, just to get away from the Open Space requirement!

As previously reported here on FAA News, the Planning Board discussed this concerning issue after a developer kept submitting piecemeal applications with no provisions for any open space off Chestnut Street.

Board Chairman Moshe Neiman noted that unfortunately "one developer could be hiding behind many different LLC's."

Board Attorney John Jackson Esq. agreed that the Board did not have much leeway to require Open Space despite all the piecemeal applications. Mr. Jackson noted that, depending on how one "structures things," there is a difference between tax evasion and tax "avoidance."

Mr. Neiman summed it all up by saying "at the end of the day, when there are 100 families with no shul and playground, the end users (i.e. the families living in the new homes) are the ones being fooled by the developers."

As previously reported here on FAA News, the Board finally figured out how to tackle part of the problem by reinterpreting the Ordinance to count basement apartments as separate "units."

As previously reported here on FAA News, due to this new interpretation, the Board was able to deny one application on Chestnut Street. Unfortunately, their valiant efforts may have been corrupted by their attorney, because, as previously reported here on FAA News, due to their attorney's corrupt work, that developer has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Board's denial of his application.

As more recently reported here on FAA News, the Board said their hands were tied in needing to approve yet a fifth piecemeal application - totalling at least 118 families - with no shul and no playground, all because the developer continues to exploit the Township's open space ordinance.

Following all of this exposure on FAA News of this concerning issue, members of the public brought the concern to Mayor Ray Coles.

The suggested amendments which have been forwarded to the Township Committee are as follows:

• The Ordinance provides that 5% of land area shall be preserved as "common open space or shall be dedicated to active recreational or community facilities." Some developers argue that this means they can leave open space but with no actual playground equipment. Therefore, this Ordinance should be amended to say that "5% of land area shall be preserved as common open space with active recreational or community facilities" - this will explicitly require actual playground equipment and /or shuls.

• The DEP rules for the CAFRA-zone in Lakewood require a CAFRA application in "a development... that would result, either solely or in conjunction with a previous development, in a residential development having 75 or more dwelling units."

The key words being "either solely or in conjunction with a previous development."

Perhaps the Township can borrow this same term regarding our Open Space Ordinance, meaning that 5% of land space should be required for land use applications which will result "either solely or in conjunction with a previous development" with more than 25 units. This will hopefully stop developers from sneaking away from providing playgrounds by submitting so many piecemeal applications.

• The "encouragement" for the payment in-lieu-of-construction for land use applications with 30 or less units should be eliminated. Our growing families require playgrounds.

Back in July, Mayor Coles agreed with the concern and gave a preliminary enthusiastic response. Township Attorney Steven Secare Esq. added that it sounds like it could be a good idea. Mayor Coles asked the Township manager to distribute the list of suggestions to each of the Committee members for their review.

However, since this preliminary enthusiastic response over three months ago, there does not appear to be any further progress.

Today, ahead of Election Day, members of the public again brought up this issue and list of suggestions to Mayor Coles and the Township Committee.

Mayor Coles' only response was, "thank you very much."

Seems that the current Township Committee is perfectly comfortable with developers continuing to cram in families with no playgrounds or shuls.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 7.

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Anonymous said...

Why does there have to be a shul in every developement, why not a church? Do they only sell to jews??

Anonymous said...

Jews pay higher prices, so churchs will lower the value.
Seeing which direction the Vaad is going, give it some time and that may change, and churchs will be provided, see we need a shabbos ....

Anonymous said...

Meir says there is still some spare space in his pockets for some more, builders are waiting in line.

Menash quit the air force, Meir can't handle all of the customers.

Anonymous said...

Wow, churches lower prices?? So christians make lakewood less valuable?? Wtf?? It is wrong to build a developement meant only for Jews!! Why doesnt the fair housing act do something about Lakewoods discriminitory practices against all other religions but Jews???