What did you miss at Last Night’s Highlands Council Meeting

I have no idea what happened at the executive session. The main meeting consisted Carla from the BID reading from the Transit Village Criteria and Scoring Guide

Seriously. This is what the agenda consisted of.

Apparently we are 75% compete. We have to submit the whole application by February. Benefits for developers include: State Tax credits and grants that can be applied toward development.  Benefits for the town include DOT monies they wouldn’t necessarily have half mile radiusaccess to.

The 1/2 mile radius from the Seastreak Terminal will make up the proposed area for the Transit Village. To put it in context, its as the crow flies, so approximately to Cedar St.  It also goes over to Plum island at Sandy Hook as well as up to Monmouth Hills across Rt 36 and past the Henry Hudson Trail.

Obviously the majority of the radius isn’t actually Highlands.  So how that impacts the application isn’t quite clear.  So its something we’re going after, what the ‘real’ benefits and limitations has either not been yet vetted or maybe just shared.

There is going to be a public meeting to get resident opinions on how to handle the criteria and get feedback.

Hopefully they will use slides.



  1. This might be a good project for Highlands but I do wish there was more information – slides would be nice. Didn’t seem like the Council knew details either – is Carla masterminding the whole project singlehandedly? This isn’t just a grant which we should be applying for regardless how little we know; I am sure this has benefits as well as drawbacks and implications that we should consider.

    I wonder if Monmouth Hill residents know about this – they might be interested in participating in the decision making process.


  2. I don’t understand why we need development of an already over developed area of town. We already have commercial space that is walk-able. The town and the HBP are just doing a shitty job of bringing in tenants. Everyone is saying they want more variety: hair salon, nail salon, superette, etc. If I’m not mistaken, all of that is or will soon be available at East Pointe Plaza, which is within the said radius. So why would someone open a business in a flood zone within a mile of the same business that doesn’t flood and has ample parking? I know, I know…the transit village is supposed to encourage walking. (Is this another drinking game…my liver can’t handle it.)

    Very good point from NJaR…a good portion of the area in that radius is not Highlands. How does that impact our application?


  3. One advantage of a TV designation is that it can provide more funds for developers. That’s not really helpful to most residents, but it will help projects such as Bollermans Paradase Park or the Shadow Lawn owner get more money to build out. Not necessarily a bad thing, just sayin’….

    Another town-wide advantage is that the criteria for this designation also “suggest” or “recommend” (but, unfortunately, does not mandate) incorporating walker-friendly suggestions like directional signage, wider and more open design of street scape and storefront window designs with certain window area ratios, as well as suggest parks exist near the village. Nice ideas- but not really enforceable if the developer just seeks the density and height increases near the ‘hub’. Take a look at South Amboy near the train station, and you can see how it is a positive in an otherwise run-down urban setting. NOt entirely sure it will be a ‘win’ for a low-scale, seaside village.

    Where the application is tested, is when it involves a new development, so, getting this designation, won’t directly improve the other areas of town that may need it (unless you consider any new town home high-rise as an imrpovement, and that is not always a bad thing…). However, unless our not-so-town focused zoning folks condition any variance approvals on trade-offs for offsite improvements- like a redone parking lot by Havana, or better fences around the park and skate/ball park, etc. the overall town won’t see too much ‘tangible’ improvements to existing problems.

    One negative- and a big one-( and perhaps the reason developers supported and sought to enact this law?) It provides a tool or other argument, to allow an applicant to override local zoning requirements, once the designation is applied. These overrides seem to mostly involve density and parking. The stated concept is to remove parking/cars from the applicant’s requirements, as well as allow more ‘density’ (read that as : taller height and more living-units per acres, etc) to encourage users of things like train stations, etc. Unfortunately, the ferry is a fixed- amount of users, and is a fairly high end clientele that likely won;t live hear. Will more ferry runs be added if more users live here? That would be a nice thing and wonder if anyone has asked Carla about the data behind that.

    It’s not all a negative, maybe this will make some of the lesser Shore Drive bungalows more valuable to a bulk buyer who will develop a more modern condo unit there. But unless the design is really well thought out including impact on area not being rebuilt (ie parking overflow) this won’t necessarily enhance the charm or fabric of what is already here- low scale, seaside cottages that could really benefit from better traffic flow plans, fixed up parks, and more intelligently designed parking areas- and maybe even selective buy-out and demolition of the worst eyesores in visible areas.


    • It is supposed to include affordable housing and a broad range of access to the transit opportunity. How does that work with the ferry. How would you include people other than rich folks? You are right that it allows for overriding current zoning. I imagine this will completely reshape the waterfront from Paradise Pak to Seastreak. Homeowners watch out.


    • I don’t think this is going to increase the value of homes on Shore Drive. Look at what is happening on Locust Street, a zoning overlay made the only person interested in those homes the adjacent developer – two acre minimum lot size for high density development. When you only have one person willing to buy they get to set the price. Rumor has it that the post-Sandy offers hover around $50,000. No developer is going to pay market rate for homes they are tearing down.


  4. They need to provide a alternative master plan with exact information what this TV encompasses and how it will benefit community not just developers. They should work with jersey transit and other bayshore towns on public transportation system throughout bayshore towns and communities along with ferry pricing since it will benefit Seastreak. If this is to just benefit developers and not community as a whole I really don’t quite get it? Developers are already benefitting from tax abatements but town does needs street scape and sidewalks, parks, downtown business, bike lanes, major infrastructure, along with investment all through downtown. How is council and Mayor not completely involved in this? Should not be from HBP but municipality dealing with all of this. If our municipal site is indication of how things are handled…this is not going to be good. I wish they would just ask for help already… so many smart people who have so much vested in this town. When I read what it was I thought great idea but I guess it depends on who will be deciding what will actually be realized by the plan.


    • Totally agree! Same questions were asked last night without concrete answers. Interestingly, mid-meeting, Someone on the council indicated that the purpose of the meeting was to seek out residents’ ideas and suggestions. I suspect that Carla has been pushing this effort for quite some time with her own agenda (draw your own conclusion on how much that typically benefits the town) and the Council isn’t really fully informed or really thought through how to best leverage this tool (perhaps you had me at developer approach?). Perhaps what we need is to take a few field trips (South Amboy for example – thank you NJView), take a bunch of pics, draw up proposed plan for what we think would make sense and put it all in front of the council and say “Get to it.” I fear otherwise, we will miss an opportunity to leverage it the right way. I guess if we want to get it done right, we’ll just have to do it ourselves 🙂


    • A TV tour is a great idea. I’d also like to see some before & after photos of these towns. Was there a lot of redevelopment or did these areas get the designation because it already fit?


  5. This long standing plan is another pot. sweetener for developers and in my understanding nothing for current residents. Its a part of the bids’ the town would be great if we got rid of the residents ‘ 10 + year and over a million dollar spent plans. Most of the idea doesn’t bother me the focus does. The town needs jobs for blue collars retail for locals and some reasons for tourists to come other then half passed bar crawls. Carla has failed for 10 straight years and the fact that nobody will run for bid President other then her says something about the org.

    the bid should have been dissolved but the dems wussed out and now your being scammed into thinking the rateable are so great. Wind and sea pays I think less then 80k in taxes. That’s like 5-6 houses tops. It doesent even pay for the policing costs.
    I hope one day someone plans to improve the lives of the current residents over remaking the town for some new hipsters


  6. IMO until we have a true inventory of lots post Sandy within designated areas in Highlands no one can begin to “plan”. What lots are town owned? What lots are primary homeowners? What lots are landlord rentals? What lots are commercial? Which of them are abandoned or facing foreclosure? Which of them are totally damaged vs. repairable? Until these figures are known Highlands cannot “engage stockholders” or developers. Affordable housing in the moderate income level for 2-3 bedrooms is not all that horrible. Fact is the majority of our current residents fall within that range already … So not much would change in that regard … But the quality and code compliance of new homes and multi- family units or development would be an improvement everyone would benefit from. It’s one thing to get funding which every town needs … but it requires a level of professional input and a creative revitalized vision to do it right. Especially given all the “plans” that have been before our council over the past 10-15 years with no fruition. Why is that? What happened to all those great plans that were on the table in the past? Highlands needs to step up their game and recognize the fact that they are in over their heads and the council does need help moving forward.


  7. I read this and just thought it was a shame…. why don’t we invite some of these artists here to bring color to this town. Give them a canvas somewhere in town? People used to come from all of the world to see this building and contribute to it. As much as Highlands is a pretty seaside town it also has some edge to it that also makes it unique.


  8. I’m one of those people in the way praying mantis and your right on the money. We feel like where in the way. We can’t get any cooperation from no one to stop the road and mountain from coming down on us. We will stay in the way and just do what we can to maintain our place and hope for some help down the road. No pun intended..don Ryan


Comments are closed.