5 Things From 9/18 Council Meeting


5 1)R-14-199 Resolution Approving Strategic Planning Report – Steve Nelson spoke briefly and answered some questions from the residents.  The plan was approved by the council and now goes to the state for approval.  The state generally approves these quickly and Steve Nelson said he expects approval within a week.  The town can then start applying for grants.  The aggregate maximum of the grants is $300k and there are line item limits.  For example, there is a maximum grant amount for rewriting ordinances, a maximum grant amount (I think $50k) for rewriting the Master Plan, etc.

To view presentation from town hall CLICK HERE
To view NJ Future’s Report CLICK HERE

 

2) Captain’s Cove – The Zoning change request from RA Multimedia aka Captain’s Cove was requested to be postponed.  Councilman Card asked to move forward on the town’s clean up of Captain’s Cove parking lot and placing a lien on the property.  The council agreed to move forward on this.

3) O-14-26 – Bonding for the Community Center Playground and Shore Drive Phase II project: This did not move forward and no public hearing date was set.  There was some concern on the other costs of the projects in their entirety.  So such as, the playground there is a $90k snowflake grant that needs to be used for the playground only, the entire project could be in the hundred’s of thousands of dollars, can we afford the differential in costs to get a playground?

Tim Hill is looking into our minimum requirements to use these funds or if we may have to give up the funds if we can’t come up with the additional monies to complete the projects.

4) R-14-202 – Increased the 2 minute rule to 3 minutes.

5) Finance Committee – Mayor Nolan appointed 2 additional people, the two residents he appointed where: Chris Francy and Kim Skorka

 

To see the meeting in its entirety click here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/highlands-meetings

Town Hall Meeting notes from 9/15


NJ Future logoMonday night’s town hall meeting, wasn’t necessarily a “town hall meeting” like past meetings have been conducted. Steve Nelson from NJ Future presented a summary of the SRPR (Strategic Recovery Planning Report).  – If you hear people speak about the SRPR you now know what it stands for.

The SRPR was worked on by Steve Nelson (who also handles the SRPR in Sea Bright as well as Highlands) and a Steering Committee in Highlands made up of Art Gallagher, Larry Colby, Mayor Nolan, Tim Hill and Kevin Redmond.  I don’t know how they were chosen to make up the steering committee, I would personally put someone else on just to have a different perspective, but that’s just me.)

The council is going to go through the report in its entirety and then vote on adopting the report as a road map to move the town forward (R-14-199) in Wednesday’s Night Council Meeting.

Chapter 1 of the report – goes over the demographics of Highlands (Although admittedly they used pre-sandy demographics).

Chapter 2 of the report – goes over the impact assessment of what Sandy did to Highlands.

Chapter 3 of the report – goes over future risk assessment

  • Future Hazards
  • Risks
  • Potential Impacts/exposure of Sea Level Rising
  • Cohesion of the community
  • Governmental Services

Chapter 4 of the report covers Getting Resilient

  • Communication and outreach

In this chapter they looked at the current Master plan, current zoning, the Planning Documents from Rutgers studio and the recommended FEMA plan

Chapter 5 Assessment of Existing Planning and Zoning Documents (such as)

  • Clam Plant Zoning
  • Bayshore Region Strategic Plan (from before Sandy)
  • Masterplan from 2004 and the re-examination of MP in 2008
  • Monmouth County Haz Mitigation plan (2009)
  • CAFRA
  • Current Zoning Ordinance for Highlands Recovery Strategy

Chapter 6 Recommendations (not in order of priority)

  • Storm water piping from Rt 36
  • Property maintenance and code compliance
  • Steep Slope mitigation
  • Municipal Facilities Plan (i.e. where to put Town Hall/PD)
  • Obtain NFIP compliance & apply for CRS certification
  • Sewer upgrades (I&I)
  • Pump Station Repairs, install “new” catch basins, pipes etc
  • Economic viability of Clamming Study
  • Determine the need of redevelopment and where it should be
  • Update Boro Haz Mitigation Plan
  • Update municipal codes, plans and strategies to handle future flooding risks, hazards and vulnerabilities
  • Update the latest version of the FEMA’s flood maps using “best available flood hazard data or most stringent version”

Chapter 7 includes the Who, What, When and dollar amount to achieve the recommendations.

To view presentation from town hall CLICK HERE

To view NJ Future’s Report CLICK HERE

Who’s Job Is it Anyway?


finger pointingAnybody remember the story of  four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

The following is the Highlands Version:

There was an important job in Highlands to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody in Highlands did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought that Anybody in Highlands could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody in Highlands could have done.

There are 3 main reasons why Highlands should move past blame and into effective action.

1) It is far more productive to focus on corrective action in the future.

2) It’s less expensive to get on to a solution instead of investing good money after bad simply to point the finger of blame.  i.e. like why we (Highlands) didn’t have flood insurance on our municipal buildings. The reality is we didn’t have it, we can’t change that, how do we put our town buildings back together without it and make sure we’re covered in the future.

3) Even if you can perfectly decide who was to blame, most likely those to blame will never ever admit to it and you still have to solve the problems at hand. Energy is better spent and figuring on how can we move on, get better, learn from this, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Leadership is very much needed in Highlands and we have to be able to get past simple blame games and exhibit  positive leadership if we want to move forward as a community.

 

 

A New Borough Hall on a Beer Budget


highlands boro hallWhat do you do when your municipal building was destroyed by Sandy, then you left it sit for almost 2 years, you are almost out of money you can bond and FEMA is going to stop reimbursing you for the trailers you are renting as a short-term fix for a municipal building?

Get creative..

Some options that are being considered:

Using the Solution Center as Borough Hall.

Using the Community Center as Borough Hall.

Consolidate buildings with another town and run out of one of their buildings. (Mayor Nolan noted in the last council meetings that 2 towns have offered, but he has declined.)

 

5 Things You Should Know About Sept 3rd’s Highlands Council Meeting


5I. DCA & Unsafe Housing Funds

Sept 22 DCA will be out and about in lower Highlands looking at houses that meet the criteria for unsafe housing funds. The unsafe housing fund is a program run by the state to demolish unsafe Sandy-damaged structures in order to alleviate blight and address threats to public health and welfare.

Some items that can make a house that may be on the list not eligible are:

  • Open Permits on the Structure or current construction.
  • Property Owner that is unwilling to allow for the demolition
  • Oil tanks on the property
  • Lien holders that are unresponsive in signing off on the demolition

So if you see people in orange vests around Highlands Sept 22, that’s what that is about.

II.  Electronic Tax Sale (R-14-197)

Highlands is going forward with the electronic tax sale option. So instead of the tax sale taking place in Ptak or the Borough Trailer, it will happen online. The thought process is the online environment provides a greater pool of potential lien buyers, thus creating the environment for a more competitive tax sale process.

III. Bonding Capacity Amounts

In the last Council meeting, the CFO stated we were $2 1/2 million away from our cap. In this meeting he stated he was incorrect and we’re more like $5.3 million away from our cap.

IV. Two Minute Rule was discussed in executive session (Again)

It was the attorney’s recommendation to increase the two minute rule to 3 minutes and the Council will vote on that in the next meeting.

V. Peddler Licenses

They are increasing the number of licenses for peddlers from 6 to 10. (There are apparently 30 people on a waiting list for this.) Also they are increasing the yearly fee from twenty-five dollars ($25) to fifty dollars ($50).

There were a lot more stuff discussed to see the ustream click here

 

 

Things Going on Sept 5 – 7 around Highlands


End of Summer Party – Sandy Hook

The Sandy Hook Foundation presents its annual fond farewell to the season of summer concerts and activities on the Hook, with some of the area’s finest restaurants and caterers doing their thing they do so well, plus live music and auction items offered by a selection of local merchants. Proceeds support restoration, maintenance and education projects of the National Park Service. Party entrance is at the North Beach Pavilion near the Fort Hancock area; please call the Foundation office at 732-291-7733 or e-mail shfinc@monmouth.com if you are interested in going.

 

oysterfest2014 Asbury Park Oyster Festival

Asbury Park Oysterfest is one of Monmouth County’s flagship festivals; a 3-day event that promises to be the ultimate end-of-summer experience for oysters, fun festival foods, live music, children’s amusements, over 75 crafters and vendors, beer, wine and even signature sodas. The festival runs Friday, September 5th from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturday, September 6th from noon to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 7th, from noon to 6:00 p.m. This year’s event will be held just outside the iconic Carousel building where the downtown meets the Asbury Park waterfront.

 

Skimbash 2014 September 6-7, 2014 (Sea Bright, NJ)skimbash

Skimboarders of all ages, from beginners to professionals, gather for this annual action-packed 2-day event to show off their skills, and compete for prizes and cash. To register CLICK HERE

2014 Iron Girl – Sandy Hook

The Iron Girl event series is an opportunity for women of all ages to come together as a community. To be fit, to be healthy, and to celebrate the joy of living well – that is the Iron Girl lifestyle. We invite you to join us at one of our fun and inspirational events in 2014!

Sunday, September 7, 2014
Location: Gateway National Recreation AreaIron girl
Women’s Only Triathlon
1/3 mile swim/15 mile bike/3 mile run
Triathlon: 7:00 a.m.
Bike-Run Only: 7:30 a.m.

 

Atlantic Highlands Annual Flea Market

The Atlantic Highlands Historical Society will be holding its annual outdoor flea market on Saturday September 13th from 10AM until 4PM. at the Atlantic Highlands Marina.  Rain date Sept. 20h.
Our Annual Flea Market features many antiques, collectibles, as well as crafts, new merchandise and those second time around goodies one and all can use.
A variety of household items, furniture, jewelry, tools, toys, clothing, bottles, books,  postcards, fishing equipment, old and new,  and lots more. If you can name it, it will probably be there. There will be something for everyone.

 

 

The Evolution of Miller Beach in 2014


miller beach evolution

Shrewsbury Avenue has historically had issues with patrons of local bars leaving the establishments. Back on Aug 13, 2012 it was addressed in a town hall meeting

Chief Blewett disclosed that since July 20, 2012 there have been 38 calls from the Shrewsbury Avenue area, of which 19 can be directly attributed to Wind & Sea. He also stated that Wind & Sea owners have hired an additional officer to assist with incidents between the hours of 10 PM – 2 AM. He further summarized that with occupancy limit of 300 inside and an additional 100 outside at the Tiki bar, all of which leave approximately the same time, one additional officer is some what outnumbered.

For what ever reason, it seems as though this year things have gotten worse. Resident concerns included:

  • Wind n Sea being over capacity and safety issues
  • Unruly Patrons leaving the bar
  • Public urination and vomiting on residents properties
  • Loitering at Miller Beach after Wind n Sea closed

Some of the business responses included:

  • You live in a shore town, expect loud people in the summer
  • If they are making money, let them make money
  • Picking up broken bottles isn’t a big deal
  • Don’t complain if you chose to live near a bar

We’ve also seen many different attempts of addressing the residents concerns by trying to discourage the loitering aspect at Miller Beach.

Attempt 1) The big blinky sign “Beach Closes at Dusk”

Attempt 2) Beat cop

Attempt 3) Closing the beach parking and ticketing cars left there past dusk

Attempt 4) White luminescent cones and ticketing cars

5 Things From The Highlands 8/20 Council Meeting


5There are MANY things going on in town. The following are just 5 Highlights, to see everything you’re going to have to watch the video:

To view the full meeting click here:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/highlands-meetings

I.  R – 14 – 145/146 Declarations of Clam Purification Appointments (All the terms ended May 31) Before assigning new appointees, the CP committee was supposed to provide a report. Which they to date have not. So technically there isn’t a full committee but they need a report from the full committee in order to re-appoint certain members of the committee.   For those that didn’t realize, the Borough of Highlands actually “owns” the clam purification plant in town and receives rent from the business that is there. Although, the lease was written a long time ago and very inexpensive. It was up for renewal in 2015. Whether it auto-renews at the same rate or we renegotiated the rental receivables is still up in the air because “we don’t have a report from the clam purification committee.”  And to be fair most of our committees don’t seem to meet regularly.  – End all be all , council pushed this back until September meeting.  I personally would rather see action than inaction here, there is potential increase in rental revenue at stake.  Even more irritating, there were 2 members of the Clam Purification Committee at the council meeting. (Francy & Nolan) No excuses on why no meetings and why no report and what the heck is going on.

II.  Finance Report (From CFO) An audit started last week & constant Reviewing of the Budget is occurring, preparing for delinquent 2013 taxes, CFO recommended considering online tax sale to save money. The 3/4 qtr sewer bills were mailed out and they were due on Aug 11 with a 30 day grace period.

III.   Bonding capacity is limited to 3 1/2% of the net town evaluation (What the town is worth), Right now we’re at capacity and we have $ 2 1/2 million away from our cap. The real concern (according to the new CFO, you know one of the highest paid NJ employee) is any new projects, i.e. new municipal building, a new police station, repairing the current crappy sewer system, repairing the community center, add any other project here could put us over our cap.  What is a bond, its kind of like a credit card and our limit is based on what the town is worth. So based on everything we’ve borrowed, we’re almost at our limit with only $2 1/2 million to spare.  (If this doesn’t scare you, it should)  Our CFO suggests that we need to re prioritize our projects. (You can listen to 35 min to 45 min mark)

IV.    Two Minute Rule was discussed in executive session, the following points were brought up there-

   a) There have been times were they go around the room more than once asking for public input. (Of course this was before they put the 2 min rule in play.)

   b) Sometimes in the past it was just informal and people just spoke out.

   c) Maybe if its less people, letting speaking longer is an option and if there is a ton of people the 2 minute rule will take effect.

       Net/net – the lawyer needs to do some investigation and they pushed off until September to make any decisions. (Shocker) Oh and by the way *we* as in the town tax payers have to pay for him to do this research. This should be a no brainer and a decision made, then move on. If you ask why? Look at point #3.

V. Also in the public portion it was brought up about the APP.com article stipulating that under current policy that predates Sandy, FEMA will credit disaster-stricken communities for the free labor that volunteer firefighters, first aid squad members as well as private individuals and volunteer groups provided, and for other “donated resources,” such as free meals, bottled water and cleaning supplies. Highlands has yet to collect the hours or a donated resource list or started the paperwork.

According to the council, “we have not missed out on this yet”, however, it wasn’t explained when the drop dead date for the application actually is and why this information needed to be submitted was not collected yet.

Highlands Business Partnership Report


At the first council meeting each month, time is allotted for committee reports. In the interest of streamlining the meetings some reports are written and submitted and are part of the agenda pack.  For the August 20th meeting Carla Cefalo-Braswell, president of the HBP, submitted her written report (see below).

What surprised me and others is that there is no update on any new businesses in town.  You wouldn’t know it from the report, but there is quite a bit happening in town.  I know I’m pretty excited to see new businesses open.  What’s there to be excited about, you ask?

  • We have a new peddler in town, Penelope Traveling Boutique.  Check her Facebook page for times and locations as well as photos of just a few of the items she is currently carrying.  https://www.facebook.com/PenelopeNJ
  • Et Al is opening on the corner of Shore and Waterwitch, in the former SandWitch Shop space.  They have a Rumson location and will be doing prepared foods to-go.  I spoke with them briefly at Clam Fest and they will be open early so you can grab lunch on your way to work.  Both locations are closed temporarily so they can focus on the build-out of the Highlands location.  Like their Facebook page for updates on their progress and to drool over the food porn.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Et-al-fine-food-events/149926191733572?sk=timeline
  • Sand Bar is working hard to open at the former Clam Hut location.  While the summer season is almost over we hope there is plenty of warm weather left to enjoy the waterfront location.  They don’t seem to have an internet presence just yet but here is a link to the recent blog post on their progress.  http://highlandsblog.me/2014/08/20/progress-where-clam-hut-was/
  • As mentioned on this blog, the Highlands Pancake House is renovating and reopening as Mangia Mangia Pizza & Restaurant.  http://highlandsblog.me/2014/08/04/mangia-mangia-pizza-coming-to-highlands/
  • The construction of the new CVS is moving right along.  The structure is going up.  I have heard they’re hoping for a late 2014/early 2015 opening.  Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.

hbp_20140821091614

Progress where Clam Hut was


Clam Hut NewBack in June 2014, I did a post on how a new restaurant was trying to open where the Clam Hut was.

Although they were trying to open in the summer season 2014, and now the season is almost over, they are making progress.

Take a walk down Atlantic Street or take a notice if you go by on a boat.

 

Two River Times Highlights Borough Trailers


borough trailerThis week The Two River Times did an article on Highlands again. Specifically on how Highlands Borough and PD is still being run out of Trailers.

“We’re not closing the door on any options” said Borough Administrator Tim Hill, who hopes to have a more definitive direction by next month.”

Options they are considering include:

  • Demolishing and rebuilding 171 Bay Ave
  • Repairing and refurbishing 171 Bay Ave
  • Seeking another location entirely

Gee nothing has changed since the storm.

“The council hasn’t spoken publicly about which option it prefers at this point,”

I think I remember they had a meeting at Ptak where they spoke about options and them leaning towards building a brandy new facility.  Anybody else? I did a follow up post about it.

To read the full TRT article click here

 

Guest Blogger Carolyn Broullon: NJ Future Wants to Hear from You


NJ Future logoNJ Future has teamed up with a research scientist from Carnegie Mellon University to support Highlands in our effort to develop a long-term resiliency plan.  One part of this support involves reaching out to and engaging with the public to talk about flooding risk and plausible solutions. To that end, they developed a short survey to understand how best to talk about these issues with community members.

Please help our community in its plan for recovery and resiliency:
This 10-15 minute survey will ask about your beliefs on flooding and flooding risk.  Your answers will help Highlands and NJ Future make plans for long-term community resiliency.  In a few months, you will receive a summary of the answers given by the community.

Here is the link to the survey:

http://cmusds.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9MGc7P1k4U0nif3

Your participation is greatly appreciated!
CB