Last Night’s Highlands Council Meeting: Fire Drills, Fury & Frivoling

Shadow LawnIt was a long meeting..  It started with a fire drill, (a real one.)  The fire alarm went off as the meeting was starting delaying any decisions and discussions. It definitely wasn’t the only delay of the night.

Approximately 125 – 150 people showed up to discuss in the public forum the fate of Shadow Lawn.  First the Council voted on the petition filed by Highlands United to include the change Highlands from a Partisan Government to a Non-Partisan Government on the November Ballot.  The Council voted to include this on the November Ballot. (Not like they had a choice, it was going on either way due to shear volume of signatures on the petition.)councilmeeting821

Then they went around the gym and people gave their opinions on the Shadow Lawn Trailer park being zoned to a High Rise. A handful of people were *for* the High Rise, and the rest of the speakers were vehemently against. Reasons for against included:

No engineering study to mitigate the worries on the slump block, (Here is the USGS Study that some of the Eastpointe resdients had and referred to)

No financial studies to solidify the proposed rateables receivable would out weigh the potential expenses on infrastructure.

Not aligning with the Highlands Masterplan of density and height restrictions.

Legal precedence on what determines ‘spot zoning’ and concerns over potential further litigation costs that Highlands might incur fighting the current precedence.

One current Shadow Lawn resident courageously came out to try to plead for his home when the consensus was that development on the property is warranted, its just the size of the building that people had issue with.

One Eastpoint resident asked the Council, “Do you really want to risk loosing Eastpoint’s rateable revenue, if something should happen to the slump-block and Eastpoint looses its CO after what Sandy did to downtown?”

The Council then called for an emergency executive session, met in private and decided to table a decision until September 4th.


  1. That’s a nice big “Screw you” to all the Jews (I am one) because that is the start of the Jewish New Year. Maybe someone needs to explain to those who don’t understand any religion other than their own that just because THEY don’t celebrate it does not make it any less important than a Christian or Catholic celebrating Easter or Christmas.
    What was the answer when the mayor was told this is part of the “high holy holidays”?


    • He said it was a meeting already on the council schedule for a while. I’m not jewish but thought insensitive and disrespectful. Not exactly a worldly man:) This is the man that wants to attract development to town? I wonder if developer was of a different faith if he would reschedule?


    • Council meetings are always 1st and 3rd Wednesdays except in summer when they go to 1 meeting/month. If there was a conflict with a religious holiday it should have been brought to the attention of the council sooner.


    • Or maybe whoever did the scheduling in the first place should have considered ALL religions. Nobody has to tell them not to schedule something on Christmas so why should someone have to tell them about a Jewish holiday?


    • I agree that there doesn’t seem to be anyone that works in the boro that is Jewish. However, the meetings have been the 1st & 3rd Wednesday as long as I’ve lived in town. The meting calendar was published back in January. You’ve had 8 months to educate them on the importance of September 4th and ask for a date change.


    • I don’t need to educate an elected official. They are supposed to represent everyone and it was brought to the mayor’s attention on Wednesday evening and he chose to show his disdain for Jews. He had an opportunity to do the right thing which was to push back the ordinance until the following meeting but just like last time he has some hidden agenda and nothing is going to stop him from moving forward.
      I wonder if he was promised a great deal on a penthouse…. since he doesn’t seem to be interested in moving back into HIS existing home.


  2. Myself and a friend were going to go to the meeting, but are tired of fighting the same old fights. Tired of hear the same old yahoos yell and scream about people wrecking the town, screwing people etc without knowing what the hell they are talking about. These are the same people that for generations have done nothing but watch Highlands go down the toilet! And in many cases the same people responsible for it being in the shape it is today. So, time to give some new ideas and chance. With development the town has a future, without it there is none. Thats it pure and simple!


    • Duncan, the town officials- year after year- are the ones with the most power to ‘develop’ and to ‘welcome change’- but they did not and still do not. This is more failure to think ahead.

      Selling off the nicest hill in town for densely packed, huge towers, breaking apart the master plan, risking the collapse of what basically is a soft mound of dirt saturdated with water (unlike the bedrock cliffs of Ft Lee) will be the the start of the end of HIghlands. Not a good change, I think.

      Smart development attracts ratables/ A rush to allow a piecemeal sell-off will kill the potential for more, quality, ratables.

      Make the developer ask for a variance and therfore ‘prove’ the proposal is sound. Everyone gets to evaluate the plan being presented. What’s so awful about that, if millions in profits are truly at stake he can easily afford a few months of public questions.

      The developer told us last night a plan exists, involving a NYC developer- who I am sure will be in and out of town like a flash flood. Why is the council not strong enough to stick with the regular zoning process, instead of acting like scared sheep running into a barn – or slaughterhouse-?

      Don’t for a minute fall for the scam that ‘this is for the town’- pure bullshit not supported by the numbers OR any of the the people who are really the heart of this town.

      This is ONLY about a developers’ greed, lining the pockets of a few small officials and it will be a slow poison for the rest of us.


  3. Some point of fact regarding the whole shadow lawn deal. Firstly, extensive engineering studies have shown that the site is in no way in danger of collapsing because of this development. The same arguements were made about eastpointe when it was being planned, and ya know what? The place is still there. The idea of a “slump block” is basically a falacy. For all intents and purposes there is no such thing. From what I understand, the earth to be removed from the site, and even after the buildings are constructed will actually result in less weight on the hill, not more.

    Furthermore, anyone against turning the ghetto that is shadowlawn, into something respectable, taxable, and something that will draw people that want to invest in the town, is out of their minds. I have yet to hear one reasonable arguement against the project except for people losing their rusted out “homes” (term used very loosely) and arguements about illegal zoning, etc.

    There is no reason not to develop the property and certainly anything built there rather than was there is now will be a vast improvement.

    In the end, this is all and example of old time, clammie, good old boy thinking. The villagers love to come out with their pitchforks and torches a blazing, but are always short on realistic solutions. They however are always full of criticism, negativism, and most of all ignorance about a great many things.


    • Dude nobody is against development, its exactly the opposite but only want smart development. I personally don’t trust people who got this town in the hole it was in before Sandy to make decisions and backdoor deals about the future. With all due respect there have been many good ideas on this blog regarding that site that does not include a big heavy high rise. One question to you would you feel comfortable living with your family on Bayside Drive or Shore Drive with another heavy building going up? Why don’t you go to meeting and show everybody the geological science you are referring to cause the Mayor and Council didn’t seem to have it.


    • you said,”The idea of a “slump block” is basically a falacy.” I remember when they had to move the road at Eastpoint because of it. Remember lower scenic and the house that slid over the road. I Am not against new developement , we need it There is no reason to call people names to make a point. Clamers helped build this town and a lot of them are still around. Maybe you should try to come up with some good ideas to build the town instead of putting people down. The people that clam or work on the water are hard working people. I am not a clamer and don’t even own a boat.


    • Eastepointe did suffer a catastrpophic collapse in the early 1980s which cost the county to relocate Ocean Boulevard behind it. It is still suffering slow cracks, and will likely suffer more shifting when neighbor construction and extra weight is added to the dirt mound. The hill collapsed from rain last yaer. It continues to slough off including wet sand spilling out fron holes underneath. No one really know what is going on underground, except a lot of visible eveidence of water and earth moving around. Hmmmmm..

      The site plan currently allows for 6 story buildings and/or single family homes all of which could be sold for milliions if designed correctly. You are wrong in thinking this is about preserving a trailer park. This is about you being sold a fallacy about a developer who wants to be even greedier and leave the town with a huge liability issue.. No one has SEEN a plan, by the way so how can anyone possibly know it is ‘OK’ as improvement, safely done, etc.??


    • Ahem…. there were originally supposed to be TWO towers and they had to scrap the plans for a second one! What good reason could there possibly have been to have said they took back the approval?


  4. no one debates that the clammers arent hard workers. However, one will have to admit many of them are, lets say a kinda unruly bunch. That being said, its the “mentality” Im referring to, and once again we see people that want to feign indignation and outrage when they damn well know its true. The Johnny Urbanski’s, Billy Caizza’s, and other old time, no vision, sandford and son protectionists have been what has virtually killed this town over the years.

    Everyone knows who the problem people are, and they are the same people that oppose every single idea to improve the town.

    Heres a list of things that have been opposed over the years, Business improvement district, neighborhood improvement program, ferry services, Improvements to street scape and other problem areas, sale of the in debt water plant, the list is virtually endless.

    In fact, I cant remember virtually any plan or initiative that has no gone without some townie yahoo coming out to yell their lungs out about it.

    And while we are talking about the clammers, and others of the old time ilk. What exactly have they done to help improve the town? What do they do besides line their pockets from their endeavors? Have you seen the places that some of these guys live in?

    Please stop the BS ignorance about why this town is the way it is, and who is trying to keep it the dump it has been for decades! Everyone knows the truth!


    • I don’t know the people you mention personally but everyone you mention were council members at some point so who is holding back this town? Not people on this blog trying to change business as usual. Blindly believing development like this is a good idea without any concrete information or real science would be ignorant not questioning it.


  5. It doesnt take a brain surgeon to see that this town is built on sand. Another highrise wont add any ambiance to the town and from what Iv read, additional revenue is questionable. And your right– who in their right mind would want to live ‘down the hill’ from such a thing??!!
    I agree t hat a trailor park doesnt leave the best impression when you first enter the town. But there should be some type of 2story units that can mix high end rentals w affordable housing for those who will be displaced.
    People should think of the good of the whole town – not just their own myopic visions.
    And scheduling on the holiday is bad planning– once again for this town. Would you really expect anything else?


  6. Wait a minute…the council kept denying that there was a developer interested in the property but now all of a sudden, within six weeks after this was introduced, they now have someone that wants to build 10 stories? I knew this smelled bad from the beginning.

    So now you’ve got a town council that has lied to their constituents about the existence of interest in building a high rise. So why should we trust these same liars when they tell us the slope – which has had 3 slides in 6 years, one of them catastrophic – will not be compromised?

    Why should I trust them and this developer to complete the project? Why should I believe that Highlands will not be left with a scarred compromised landscape that has nothing but a skeleton of a building because the developer went bankrupt?

    It’s a shame only the mayor’s seat is up and even more disappointing that our options are Liar 1 and Liar 2. Is it too late to get someone else on the ballot?


    • Duncan, all you seem to be good at is putting people down. There are a lot of poor people that live in town. What do you think we should do put them on a boat and sink it.Every post you make is negative, why don’t you come up with a master plan. I always liked bill and john. John still fixes my cars,does a good job and does not over charge me
      PS. why don’t you come up with a plan to do some thing about all the empty houses


  7. I say……….. to solve all the problems………..we go back to my original plan which was to just bulldoze the whole damn town and start over!!!


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