If you could have voted on recinding permit fees – how would you have voted in Highlands?


Ok, in recently researching the Faulkner Act, I found that Highlands *has* this, what this means is: that when the whole discussion on permit fees came up, if the council voted against it, then if enough registered voters signed a petition against charging the fees, the ordinance could have been overturned and the fees could have been waived.

That being said, how would you have voted??

18 comments

  1. The decision to not waive the permit fees was not only stupid, and insensative, but really not very politically savy as well. With all the surrounding towns realizing that its not time to start profiting from people suffering, and that people deserved a break after the storm, the Highlands council’s decision was just plain stupid.

    What it tells me however is that the town is in such financial trouble that to waive the fees would mean a major tax increase, and we cant have that in the year of a mayoral election can we? Especially when one candidate, is the mayor, and the other is already on the council wants to be. They may think this was a smart “play”, but I think people will not soon forget about this.

    Furthermore, any boon to the towns income will be a one time deal only, and permits fees shouldnt be considered as “income” to the tax base. For the council to have risked the wrath of everyone having to apply for endless permits and pay fees to put their homes back together just tells you how desperate the financial state of the town is.

    Reason the towns financial state is so bad, even pre sandy? Being too small of a town to survive, and lack of vision to promote business growth and retention, and lack of proper development of town properties.

    Solution: Merge with Middletown, or one or more smaller towns.

    I dont see the town being able to stay afloat financially much longer, and the only other solution is mind boggling and massive tax increses no one can afford!!!

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  2. But Paul the Construction guy said my insurance company would take care of the permit fees…and the Mayor said they would be waived (He just neglected to mention it to anybody in the permits office!)

    Oh how quickly we forget….

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  3. Bill,

    Yes, The Mayor did seem to indicate that the permit fees would be waived at the very first town meeting after the storm. Of course, a lot of promises were made. Remember the tanker of free gas that was supposed to come to town?

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    • Hey I still remember the free sand bangs that were going to be distributed “starting at noon” before the storm….and when I got there at 11:00AM the place was already a mob scene! These were the same sand bags that were “only going to residents of downtown Highlands,” but, naturally, nobody bothered to check anybody’s i.d. or even tell me I needed to bring my own shovel!

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  4. The signatures would allow it to be a referendum and then it would be voted on at the next general election. It works just like recalling a sitting council person. It’s 20% of the number from the last general election that are needed on the petition.
    But even if you could get your money back they’d still need to figure out HOW to do that and that requires time and money… it’s a catch 22. They did the wrong thing by not waiving them up front and now there is no inexpensive solution.

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    • I’m not trying to insinuate that we give back the money NOW. However, this is just another example of bad decisions of the council. Not only did they NOT waive from the get go, when approached by the public when certain state level memos surfaced encouraging waiving of permit fees, both the Mayor and councilman Francy *could have* said if you want this to happen, here is your recourse, but instead they both shrugged and pointed toward their counterparts and blamed them for not supporting waiving the fees.

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    • This Faulkner Act can be a good lesson to us all and should def use in next election regarding unwise decisions being made by Mayor and Council. If they are so concerned about money they should have fought long and hard for money from Pallone who still has not given Highlands its far share given the hit it took rather than place more hardship on their residents. Atlantic got a significant amount of money just to fix their docks. Something very wrong with this picture.

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  5. Rockem,

    And you know why those communities get the money? Its simple, they bring in and attract tourism dollars. Highlands really doesnt.

    And do you know why Highlands has failed to be a tourist spot? Because former councilpersons such as the brain trust Johnny Urbanski go on the record and publicly in publications like the Asbury Park Press telling everyone that “Highlands will never be a tourist destination”, and other similar statements. A total lack of vision, forethought, planning, and leadership, that has kept Highlands from reaching its potential for years.

    So, lets be realistic about this. Does Highlands deserve the same shake as everyone else? Of course it does, but if you were giving the money out, would you want to throw it down a rat hole?

    Of course, there is the issue of how hard the Council has worked to acquire relief money as well. Many have speculated that the effort has been weak at best. But I have no info. to back up this assertion.

    The same people, attitudes, etc. that have kept the town down and out for decades now, become glaring when a situation like Sandy happens. And who pays the price for the lack of vision and leadership? I think we all know the answer to that one! 😦

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    • Then who are all those people I only see in the summer driving cars with New Yawk plates? And how come all the people who swear they’re locals keep telling me how busy it gets in town during the summer?

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    • You are correct that there is no hard evidence as to how good a job the council is doing in securing relief. But there are anecdotes: Sea Bright managed to put lipstick on their pig early on. Many of the boarded up store fronts received a bright coat of paint.

      They also refuse to divulge grant application information at the council meetings because some grants require the application to be confidential, and therefore we can’t be told what is outstanding in potential dollars.

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  6. Busy compared to what? the ghost town that this place is the rest of the year?

    And if there are truly that many people coming here in a tourist way, you would think this place would be a boom town, but its not. Thats the only fact that matters………………

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  7. I would have waived the fees and stepped up code enforcement. Let’s get a couple part time code enforcers out there. That’s been a problem in town for at least as long as I’ve been here. There are buildings that have had the “condemned” red square/white X for as long as I’ve lived here. NOTHING is being done about them but the town and HBP can’t figure out why no one will open a business in town or why our property values are so low.

    They’ll just blame the flooding issue, which I agree is a big one. But no one is going to invest in a town that doesn’t flood if it still looks like Sandy hit it last week.

    I’ll even volunteer to learn the code and write up warnings & violations. The town gets cleaned up and gets a few dollars in the coffers. Win-win.

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    • The location of Highlands has way more potential as a tourist destination than many towns if we get a grant to fix the infrastructure issues. I don’t believe a word of this confidential crap when all the grants to other communities where widely publicized. My theory is they have yet to come up with a real game plan that state feels worthy of grant money. They want shovel ready to go plans that will lift community. I have yet to hear any myself other than on this blog.

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    • So here’s a hypothetical code question for the group. Say one has a neighbor, who got ~3 feet of water, just like the rest of the block, but never did any kind of remediation. They are in foreclosure, and not likely to give a shit about fixing anything.

      I’m starting to get more than a little concerned about the electrical system in this house. I’ve been inside, and even before the storm, it was wonky at best. I am assuming that there have been maybe some outlets changed, but nothing to do with the wiring or panel.

      Now that we have this heat wave, I’m even more worried about the place going up in flames. There is an extension cord going from the kitchen OUTSIDE up the exterior wall to an air conditioner in an upstairs bedroom. And that’s just what I can see from the outside. There may be more going through the ceiling or up the stairs.

      After putting the amount of time and money into putting my place back together, I am trying to protect my property and my sanity.

      So what do I do about this? Who would I even call to complain, or have someone take a look and recommend that it be fixed (by the bank, perhaps)? Am I likely to end up making them homeless by calling this in? Code enforcement? Our construction official? (please don’t tell me it’s the solutions center.)

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    • Honestly it sounds to me like they do not respect you or your property as a neighbor ….I would seek advice from fire department as it sounds like a huge fire hazard. Not to sound mean but I will not allow somebody to put my life or property in danger no matter what the repercussions. If you do not get an adequate response I would try to contact somebody in state code enforcement and personally I would be relentless about it cause that is scary situation.

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    • It’s hard to elect what’s not put in front of you. It’s hard enough to get people to vote, never mind trying to get them to write someone in.

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