Highlands Solution Center – Real or Imaginary?

At the December 20th town meeting, it was announced that around the 1st of the year the building next to the chubby pickle was going to be turned into the Highlands Solution Center. (I’m not the only one who heard this).. Click Here for Help for Highlands Meeting Notes

So why is it NOBODY else has heard of this and seems to know anything about it?

It seems like a “we’d like to have, or a it would be a good idea to have” instead of “we’re gonna have.”

The last thing Highlands needs right now is “FALSE HOPE”, Don’t tell us there is going to be a place to get answers if you can’t pull it off.

A few other ideas:

1) Waive permit fees & make it easier to obtain.. (Sea Bright did)

2) Put the address of the construction office ON THE Construction Office web page.. At a minimum put new building next to Chubby Pickle 1st floor.

3) Be on the SAME PAGE – it shouldn’t matter if I go to a town hall meeting, go to borough office, show up at the construction offices, or look on your web site, I should get the same answers, and not a lot of “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

4) Consolidate the non-profits, what are there now like 6 of them. (I kinda stopped counting) which one do I go to for what? Does one handle just volunteers, one handle rental assistance, one handle just businesses? – Is anybody else confused on them or it just me? One thing is consistent – They ALL have DONATE Here buttons.

5) Put a Calendar of the town meetings on the HighlandsNJ web site, we should have them scheduled for the next 3 months (if we are truly going to have them), use the reverse911 (which only works part of the time anyway) AND post up around town, also, why not start a Highlands Borough Facebook page with announcements – Its FREE, and having another way to disseminate information is a GOOD thing.

Ok, my daily rant is over..


  1. Right on…. it is ridiculous these people should have had a disaster plan in place prior to this storm as we live in a world of rising sea levels,terrorism, etc. In my experience dealing with them they are simply inept group of people and its sad cause the people of Highlands deserve better particularly now. We need smart, forward thinking leadership to bring town to the 21st century not same business as usual. I’m hoping if anything good comes out of this event its that people of Highlands say enough already to this clueless bunch!


  2. The mayor announced this plan originally at the Nov town council meeting right before Thanksgiving so no you are not imagining this development. I do agree that communication is not always good but at that meeting I recommended using the reverse 911 as a modern day town crier since we know that only a small portion of residents attend the meetings. The town website has been a mess for years and over a year ago, volunteers along with Councilman Francy, put together proposals to re-design the site so it is easier to navigate, more up-to-date, etc. After their council meeting presentation it went nowhere and we are stuck with the same mishmash. The fact that council meeting minutes are not updated immediately in a time when all of us are dispersed and living out of town and dependent on the website for info just boggles my mind. When I checked a few weeks ago, the last minutes posted were from October. It’s so easy to complain but the only way any changes will be made is if residents make the time to be heard at council meetings and follow up to make sure things are done to help us. Everyone is overwhelmed right now but in order for us to get our town back on our feet we need to be pro-active and cool-headed.



  3. When I asked our construction official (with the oh so professional email address of constructionofficial@gmail.com) about waiving the permit fees like Sea Bright did, he assured me that my insurance would take care of it. I’m counting on that, definitely.

    And his suggestion to help with the maze of permit BS was to hire some company. Again, with the massive payouts (HAH) from my insurance company?

    I’d be first in line to volunteer to go help at the mythical solutions center if I could get a straight answer on the procedures and order in which I have to do things. How hard would it be to put *that* on the webpage?

    I’m so looking forward to dealing with the maze of ICC coverage, FEMA grants, and lifting the house that the town will surely turn into a clusterfuck of massive proportions.


    • My Insurance policy does NOT pay for permit fees. States it right in the policy. I don’t think our construction official knows what he’s talking about. And as the check is approx. .40 on the dollar of what its actually going to cost to fix it (not raise, just fix as is) any help the town could give I think would be appreciative. (not just by me but everyone in the same boat). Plus it just seems like common sense to have the KISS principal when you have 1400 out of 1700 homes that need to be put back together on a limited budget.


  4. Its totally unacceptable to pay money for permits given the calamity of the disaster. Its taking advantage of people at their toughest time to make it tougher. The fact anyone was told to hire a company to navigate permit system shows how totally out of touch these people are. If they had it together and figured out a a way to communicate to their citizens the process and generally what the hell is gong on maybe different story? I’m highly doubting any of the condo’s at Conners or Shore drive are raising so I say one for all all for one ….no exceptions! If the Town gets Fema money to rebuild shoreline the smartest thing to do would be request public works project to upgrade storm sewer system, put in more pumping stations, build higher seas walls and marina walls while putting their citizens to work. If they sign any future public work project contracts they should put provision that a percentage of their workforce should be a local tradesman. Mitigate town not place more financial burden on it’s citizens. They couldn’t raise every house in New Orleans but they built stronger as a city to avoid future damage. Its just impossible and unreasonable for 1400 people to lift their homes on whatever ICC or insurance gives you.
    On a side note: I was in town yesterday and heard that there was somebody giving free mattresses but of course no info on that either.


  5. Free mattresses to those who need it, forms available at boro hall. Fill out what your needs are and someone will come out to assess. Without proper storage they cannot accept too many in at once. Good things come to those who wait.


    • Is there actually a form for the *free* mattresses or do they need to put they need a mattress on the Resident Needs Form (link right hand side) and give to Borough Hall?


    • It is the needs form that they use to “assess” what you say you want/need. If someone says they need a refrigerator and a company donates 20 of them and they see that there’s none in your home you’d get one. How they determine the priority is unclear.


  6. Gee…it’s funny…I brought up this question a few days ago when I called boro hall and they didn’t know what I was talking about. I was told to “just drive by” like I’m still living in town with nothing to do, but I did and Paul Vitale (who was nice enough to spend a few minutes with me) had never heard of this solution center either! Finally, I dared to suggest to one official that it might be a good idea to have better communication with boro hall and the response was “I should keep my “snide comments” to myself!


  7. I’m in town today and going to take a ride over and see. I’ve got completed permit applications in hand, so cross your fingers for me.

    Maybe I’ll see a unicorn too!


  8. Highlights of my visit.

    1. No, that building next to the Chubby Pickle is not the Solutions Center, at least not yet. There were actual people in there, so I got excited. Alas, they were a different group looking to hire some long term temporary workers (so if that’s what you might need…).

    2. There’s a sign (a small sign) on the front door of the building next to the Chubby Pickle (19 Bay Ave, for those who care), that does indeed say that it is the Boro Construction Department. The hours listed are Thursday night 430-7pm. The zoning officer also seems to be there on Thursday nights from 5-7pm. (SERIOUSLY? There are 1400 houses to be renovated and you are open for 2.5 hours once a week? WTF?)

    3. A nice man in the Not-Solutions Center went above and beyond and got me in touch with Tim Hill, our borough administrator. He had me drop off my permit folder down at the new boro hall trailers (on Shore Drive, just on the other side of the Fire Department). I feel like it’s just been put into the biggest limbo ever. The admin at that office said that Paul would look at it and be in touch about the fees (OH, the sign on the door of the SC also says that insurance will cover fees, just to reiterate that bunch of BS.) But did you know that Paul only works Tuesday-Friday? So now I’m at least another week away from even being able to pay for my permits, let alone getting them. For fuck’s sake, I just want to be HOME again.

    4. I’m really not one to rant and rave (despite my comments here), but the mayor and the construction officer are going to get an earful from me. The lack of communication and cooperation has been appalling. This town really needs to enter this century, 13 years into it, and figure out how to use these internets things.

    5. UNICORN!

    6. Fuck it all, I’m heading for the Driftwood. Y’know, if Poogie was running this town, things would actually be functional…


    • I didn’t even think Paul worked that many hours! He told me the constrution office is only open 4-7 on Thursdays.


  9. We need to start a citizens group to hold these people accountable. if we could just reach more citizens to address these very serous issues. There are power in numbers!


  10. I totally get it BB but this is big time,inexcusable ridiculous! Don’t give up or the village Idiots will always be in charge:)


    • Agree 1000% the choice now is do those who want to see transparency and some thought being put into rebuilding stand back and throw their darts or do we take a stand and say no more business as usual. For the last several decades those who want solutions for their hometown have been ignored, waited out and befuddled how anything has been decided or comes into being. Stakes are too high this time to allow the same old.


  11. Just came across this just thought might be interesting to all seeking permits.
    Construction permits are not required for: Roof shingle repair or replace- ment; flashing repair or replacement; siding; gutter repair or replacement; window repair or replace- ment
    Construction permits are required for: Roof rafters; roof ridge beams; structural window headers; interior doorway headers; ceiling and floor beams; main girders; exterior wall fram- ing; interior bearing walls; foundation walls; chimneys; retaining walls; detached garages and sheds; electri- cal and plumbing
    Notify the local construc- tion code enforcement agency of all electrical and plumbing work and apply for construction permits as soon as it is practical.
    Questions? Contact the local construction official or the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs at 609-292-7899.
    Source: New Jersey Department of Community Affairs


    • If you’re just replacing outlets, then you don’t need an electric permit. You’ll need an electric inspection at some point, after insulation, but before sheetrock, but if you’re not adding anything or touching the panel, you can skip that one.

      The sign on the door of 19 Bay Ave says, “Permits are required for renovations and storm repairs.”

      Of course, it also says, “All permit cost refundable by insurance” so take anything on that sign with a grain of salt (or sand…).


  12. So after all my badmouthing, it seems that it is really easy to get Paul to answer, if you just email him. He responded almost instantly to a round of questions from me.

    I don’t envy him his job right now.

    Not that this makes up for the complete lack of communication from the town, but it is reassuring to get actual answers for once.


  13. Highlands Solution Center is officially open at 19 Bay Ave Highlands. The Solution Center will be handling: 1: Construction permits and applications-Hours are Tues-Fri 12-5pm also Saturdays 7am-12pm 2: Construction Official-Office hours Thurs 4-8pm Inspections Tues and Wed by appointment only. 3.Engineering ,Zoning and Flood Plain hours- Tues 12-4pm Thurs 4-8pm 4. Solutions-Hours- Mon-Thurs 12-8pm Fri, Sat, Sun 10-3pm


    • I’ll take another one for the team tomorrow and go find out. I got a call that my permits are ready, and that I should go to the Solutions Center to pick them up, so I’ll see when I’m there. My guess is that’s “everything else,” or the donations/freebies/residents’ need stuff.

      I got my electrical inspection the other day. Paul also reiterated that my permit fees will be reimbursed by my insurance, but I figure that I’m not really out to piss him off right now, given the power he has the potential to wield over my rebuilding.

      Still no insurance money though. The check’s in the mail, they keep telling me.


  14. My sister lives on Shore Drive, Highlands. She is being told by FEMA, etc. that her address is invalid. We remember that the town changed the hoyse numbers on Shore Drive, but not when. Do any of you out there remember the date? Thanks for help.


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