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FIRST REPORT: TOMS RIVER PLANNING BOARD TO RECEIVE FIRST FRUM MEMBER




At both the primary election and the general elections, Toms River residents overwhelmingly voted for a change in government - one which is strongly anti-development.


On his first day in office, newly seated Mayor Daniel T. Rodrick got right to business enacting change - including completely revamping the entire Planning Board. 


As part of this overhaul, the Planning Board is set to receive its first from frum member.


Two major issues played a major factor in how residents voted.


The planning board's approval of a “twin towers” mixed use property in the downtown area. The project was originally presented as 10-story buildings. Due to backlash from many residents, then-mayor Mo Hill announced a "compromise" whereby the buildings would be scaled down to "only" 6 stories each.


An additional issue was Mayor Hill's certificate of occupancy ordinance.


In 2022, township officials heard from numerous new homeowners that their homes had serious issues which they were unaware of prior to purchasing the home. Some of those problems include damage from superstorm Sandy, illegal basement apartments, or boat lifts and pools, where electrical service is not properly grounded.


In response, the Township enacted a new law requiring all residential home sellers to obtain a special inspection from the Township prior to selling the home. This inspection came at a $300 price tag to cover the cost of a township inspector’s visit to the home.


While the law was intended to provide more protection for buyers, it made “quick closings" more difficult.


Subsequently, due to backlash from home sellers, the Township lowered the inspection cost to $225.


Incoming Mayor Rodrick, along with his running mates on the council, Craig Coleman, Thomas Nivison and Lynn O'Toole were administered the oath of office at the council's annual reorganization meeting which took place earlier this week.


The council then selected Coleman as council president and O'Toole as vice president.


Mayor Rodrick was sworn in by State Senator Jon Bramnick.


Afterwards, Mayor Rodrick gave the following opening comments:


First I would like to congratulate my running mates and thank the voters for putting their trust in us.


We are truly humbled by the outpouring support we received.


I asked Senator John Bramnick to swear me in today specifically because he has a long record of bringing Democrats and Republicans together to solve complex problems.


It's time to bring everyone here in Toms River together. We all want the same things; to live in a town with safe streets, good schools, and low property taxes.


People moved to Toms River to get away from overcrowded cities. Residents are happy with the way Toms River currently is, we don't want to live in a city.


For the last 8 years, the Township rolled out the red carpet for developers. Ironically, at the same, when "little homeowners" want to improve their own property, they got tangled up in red tape bureaucracy.


Instead of cutting red ribbons at construction sites, my administration will focus on cutting red tape for residents.


And that work will begin today, with the introduction of an ordinance to rescind the certificate of occupancy ordinance that was enacted by the previous administration.


This ordinance has jammed up over 2,000 homeowners, costing them thousands of dollars and months of aggravation.


That all stops today.


The special deals for politically connected developers ends today as well.


In the next few minutes, the Council will hopefully vote to approve 6 new Planning Board members, replacing everyone who voted in favor of the towers downtown.


We will also bring in a new high powered attorney to fight these guys and get us out of this terrible deal. Some say it can't be stopped. I disagree and I won't back down.


It's also time to cut down on spending and unnecessary jobs in town hall.


By tomorrow, my second day in office, payroll for confidential employees will be reduced by half a million dollars per year.


To be clear, we aren't talking about rank-and-file guys, rather we are talking about politically appointed jobs and overpaid management positions.


There is a lot of work that needs to be done to get Toms River back on track and we're just getting warmed up! Wait until you see what we do in our first 100 days!


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The council then voted 4-2 on first reading to repeal the certificate of occupancy ordinance.


Councilmen David Ciccozzi and James Quinlisk, who are now the opposition team voted against the repeal.


A public hearing and final reading on the repeal will take place on Wednesday, January 31, 2024.


Additionally, the council approved major overhauls to both the planning and zoning boards.


The planning board previously consisted of Stephanie Sevastakis, John Solly, David Ciccozzi, Anne Hammill-Pasqua, Paul Wnek, Matthew Yezzi, Jack Reuther.


The new board will consist of Kenny Piscopo, Steve Hensel, Angelo Nizzardo, Peter Pascarella, Joseph Bilota, Lynn O’Toole, and Dassie Waldman-Dembitzer.


Ms. Dembitzer will be the board's first frum member.


Previous zoning board members Robert Alston and Leonard Oaks and Lynn O’Toole (who is now a Council Member and on the Planning Board) were replaced by Rick Tutela, Jeff Dingsor and Matt Erb.


These new board members will be administered the oath of office at the Board's reorganization meetings which will take place later this month.


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