Category Archives: Town_Hall

So Has The ‘Sandy Memorial’ Grown On You?

community center nowSo its been approximately 2 months since the infamous new “Sandy Memorial” previewed on Snug Harbor Beach, has it grown on you yet?

According to the October 2nd Article on the “Billie Tsien said, I think this the kind of place that will grow on people over time.  I think anything that’s new and comes into your community is always an adjustment.  This was build in the spirit and celebration of the people of the community.”




TBW: How to successfully do a coup d’état in Highlands

Back in the spring of 2013,  I blogged about how to structure a Coup in Highlands,pitchforks and torches

Then I blogged about “Now its time to put this in ACTION, below are some steps to do to pull this off:”

a) Make sure your Spell Check is On  (CHECK)

b) Get people to sign a petition to change from a Partisan to Non-Partisan Government in Highlands  (CHECK) –

d) When it passes the ballot process in November, a new election for council will happen in May, which can allow for “new” people to run for office regardless of political affiliation. (CHECK)

This is a Pitchfork & Torches moment where in the wise words of Twisted Sister “We’re not going to take it, no we’re not going to take it, we’re not going to take it, any more…”  (CHECK)

I think it was very telling that in the Highlands Survey that went out in 2013, most Highlanders felt they were most satisfied with their neighbors that helped them & most dissatisfied with the current council’s leadership. That stuck with residents 3 years later.

Dear Highlands, Thank you For Structuring a successful coup d’état!  ~ You matter.. 🙂

Do You Know Who Is Running For Highlands Council?

Want to Find Out And Ask Them Questions?


Candidate Forum Monday 7:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Henry Hudson High School


– Each candidate will give a 2 minute bio;
– There will be 4 questions that will be asked of each candidate to start the forum, which they will have prior to Monday night.
-the 4 most popular question requested by the public will be provided to them hopefully on Friday.
– They will have one minute to answer each question. (10 seconds will be the most overtime they will have, Rosemary Ryan the moderator will have someone timing this)


– the Moderator will then start asking the questions from the box and ask until 8:25.
– The candidates will have a 1 minute closing statement.

How to Ask Questions:
– There will be index cards at the check in table at the high school. Each person (audience) will be able to write down one question and drop it into the clear box that will be at the door.

****If you cannot make it and would still like to send a question, PM Rosemary Ryan on Facebook or email her at

You can also post questions on the Borough of Highlands Facebook Page (Please note you will have to join that page to post a question)

Any questions PM’d, emailed or Posted will be added to the box at the Forum for the running Candidates to answer.

There should be a video tape made available after, for those who can not attend.

Sewer Bills And Council Seats

On the 17th Highlands Council Meeting, during the public portion section. It was asked if all the council were up to date on their Highlands Sewer Bills and stated if they were not, it wasn’t right. Especially after Sandy when so many people were displaced and still required to pay Sewer bills for properties that were not habitable.

Previously, it was indicated that there was no way the town could waive any sewer fees because our I&I was the same, and the town’s bill had to be paid.

So doesn’t it seem unreasonable that if the town “must” pay their “town” sewer bill, and regular Joe residents must pay “their” bills, that the individual council members must pay “their” bills.

BTW – you can now pay your bill online. Makes it even easier..

Guest Blogger: Stacey Pritchard on Rain Barrel Grant in Highlands

This one was raffled in 2014 in a community project to raise awareness in Vermont.

Image Courtesy of

If you have not heard, Highlands has received a grant from NJ American Water for Rain Barrels. This grant is for environmental concerns and is for ten thousand dollars ($10k). Highlands is expecting to be able to buy at least 100 barrels, and possibly more with those funds to distribute to homeowners in Highlands.

A survey to be able to get your name in for a barrel should be published on the town website sometime this week, according to the town administrator Tim Hill.

Now many people may roll their eyes and think oh yeah… rain barrels “whoop di dooo…” no big deal.

Well one or two don’t make a huge difference beyond the garden and yard of the person using them. But for every barrel (which on average are 55 gallons) that is less water running directly into our drainage systems with a heavy rain fall. Even a fairly small roof line of 800 Square feet can produce up to 500 gallons of water in a 1/2 inch rainfall. When that water is hitting driveways ad sidewalks, which is not uncommon in our small densely packed streets, it is going right into the drainage systems and contributes to some of our flooding issues.


By diverting the water to enter the system at a non rainfall event, each rain barrel used can contribute to less street flooding in our little town.  Just like with recycling efforts, when we start working together as a community our individual efforts can add up quickly. Of course there are other great benefits beyond the flooding issues.


Rainwater is highly oxygenated, free of the salts, inorganic ions, and fluoride compounds contained in tap water that accumulate in the soil over time and potentially harm plant roots. Use of rainwater in your garden dilutes this impact, making plants more drought-tolerant, healthy, and strong. I have already started my seeds and cannot wait to start planting my garden this year, and feel even better when I can be as green as possible with the way I tend it. Why worry about my organic food when I then flood them with tap water?


You’ll help to reduce runoff pollution. When it rains, runoff picks up soil, fertilizer, oil, pesticides and other contaminants and pushes them into other areas of the landscape. These pollutants can increase algae growth in lakes, alter the habitat for fish, and even make lakes and oceans dangerous for recreational activities. Your water collecting stops some of this damaging flow. This is one of the most important issues for me. Living downtown, especially in the spring, I watch as a great deal of run off flows off the lawns of homes further up the hill. I know that many of these lawns are being treated with chemicals that are being picked up and carried on to my sidewalks, where my dogs are walking and picking up all sorts of toxins. Not to mention draining into the water.

You’ll have a fresh, green way to wash your cars and pets. Rainwater doesn’t have the salt and other chemicals found in tap water.


Rain runoff is also a particular issue in places where land erosion is a concern. Your rain catch will be especially helpful in these cases.


You can reduce your water bill. Garden and lawn watering accounts for 40 percent of residential water use during the summer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Thanks to a rain barrel’s water catch, the typical gardener can save 1,300 gallons of water during the growing season.

Oh and finally… If you don’t like the way the barrel looks… you can always get creative and paint it.


Rutgers Storm Water Management
How To Install A Rain Barrel
What To Do If There Is Sediment In Your Rain Barrel

5 Things From Last Nights Council Meeting

5  1. The Streetscape services contract for Bay Ave was not awarded and tabled. However, they are planning on starting that project this year. The project which is broken out in 3 business zones on Bay Ave includes:

Replacing the sidewalks with stamp colored concrete
Adding Light Posts
Adding Planters

2. Army Corps update: They plan to have their report done by the end of 2015. As part of the report they will be having one on one mandatory sessions with home owners that will be affected by their plan. There will also be public meetings in May/June 2015 and August/Sept 2015. Highlands is under no obligation to comply with their recommendations, but if we don’t work with them in completing their report it could cost the town in the future with no help offered.

3. Monmouth County FEMA Meeting Feb 20th @ Henry Hudson High School between 4 – 8 pm. You can meet with a representative and discuss your specific property. This is part of the process of approving the new FEMA maps.

4.  The HBP budget of $60k was approved by the council. The budget was $10k higher than last year.

5.  The town is looking at potentially reversing the decision to make Valley a one way street. After multiple complaints from residents affected, Councilperson Ryan is surveying additional residents for feedback. To weigh in:

To view the meeting in its entirety click here

Learning From Other Towns

all in this together I would like to share the goals and objectives that Sea Bright’s Mayor has mapped out for her town. Believe it or not – it is not that far off from what could be said for Highlands. After all we shared the same resources in developing our FEMA Long Term Recovery Plan and our SRPR report for our upcoming Master Plan. The only difference is that we have no defined action plan publicly placed before us as a community.

What we do have are agenda minutes, studies and options buried in folders on the desks of various town officials and department heads – with no cohesive attempt to put it all together into one concise focus. We have developers and financial interests that recognize the potential of Highlands. We even have concerned residents attending meetings and requesting many of the same objectives you read in Mayor Long’s list. For example: Town Hall & PD buildings; CRS program; pump stations; written reports from committees; website interaction; business development on Bay Ave; streetscape projects; and attention to abandoned properties, etc.

What’s missing? Leadership? Focus? Competence? Communication? Public Forums?

I urge residents to keep attending our town meetings to help make this happen. Especially when it comes to public participation in the Master Plan. Get informed. Read the many reports and studies those outside agencies have publicly provided pro bono to the town Highlands. Speak out and demand feedback. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.

I urge the Highlands Council and our Borough Administrator to listen to the residents, to step up our game, and to take a good look outside of Highlands to see how things can get done.

Councilman Doug Card (Highlands)

Should The Mayor & Council Put Disclaimers on Their Social Media Posts?

On October 22, 2014, the council, by a vote of 3-2, (Yes: Becky, Nolan, Redmond; NoL Card, Ryan)  approved a resolution (R-14-220) to require everyone affiliated with the town (from any town employees. elected officials, or even volunteers) to include a disclaimer when they comment on an unofficial Highlands Facebook group page or any other social media outlet. The resolution was originally part of the consent agenda, meaning that it could pass in a single reading and without any public discussion or input.

The disclaimer in question states: in (any) posting (on the Highlands Facebook page or anywhere considered social media) that the comment, posting or statement from that individual is a statement, comment or posting of that individual only and does not represent an official statement, comment or posting on behalf of the Borough of Highlands.

So something along the lines of, for example, Frank Nolan posts something to the effect “All the people in Highlands have no hearts” – He should post “All the people of Highlands have no hearts ~ This statement is from Frank Nolan, resident and does not represent an official statement, comment of posting on behalf of the Borough of Highlands.”

But neither he or other “officials” are adhering to their own resolutions.  See further examples:

frank nolan 1215

And here is another example:

franknolans post
One example was on the Highlands Facebook page, one was on his personal Facebook page. The issue isn’t whether you agree or don’t agree with his statements, the issue is as per R-14-220;

any elected Borough official, (Frank is an elected official who voted Yes for this resolution) or other Borough official, employee, agent, representative or volunteer, including appointees to boards, commissions, committees or subcommittees, who wishes to post on the Facebook page “Highlands New Jersey,” or other similar social media site (He posted on The Highlands Facebook Page and his Facebook page which is technically a similar social media site) which is currently or may be in the future established, shall state in such posting that the comment, posting or statement from that individual is a statement, comment or posting of that individual only and does not represent an official statement, comment or posting on behalf of the Borough of Highlands.”  (No such disclaimers were made)

The way I see it, there are two possible courses of action:

1.  Abolish R-14-220, as no-one, including the people that drafted and voted yes for it, are adhering to it.


2. Start including the disclaimer that you (Nolan, Redmond, and Kane) insisted was necessary. By not including this disclaimer, it is a slap in the face to your constituents and gives the perception that the council believes they are above their own resolution.

In my opinion, if they want to *start* or *try* to mend fences between residents and residents, residents and council, and other divisions in town, then they need to lead by example and just do the right thing.

Traffic Pattern Controversy in Highlands

valley st one wayOct 1, O-14-28 was introduced at the Highlands Council Meeting asking for Valley St by RT 36 be made one-way from Highlands Ave to Rt 36.
Oct 22, O-14-28 was opened up for public comments and voted on by the Council.
Nov 5th the change was made with signs being erected.
Nov 7th drivers were complaining about the change in traffic pattern because they had no expectation that it had happened and had a near miss trying to turn where they had always turned.

Which by Highlands standards is pretty quick. Normally we hear, “it’s a process, you just don’t understand the governmental process..” (shaking their head)

Well in this case, this is what logically would make sense to me for a “process”

Step 1: Resident makes the case for Making Valley A one way street

Step 2: Council agrees to consider and sets a time to discuss and have a public comments portion.

Step 3: Town mails out proposed ordinance to all residents 200 feet from road in question similar to what has to happen with zoning changes.

Step 4: Council considers passing ordinance after residents are noticed and provided an opportunity to voice their opinion during the public comment section.

Step 5: Council votes yes or no on proposed Ordinance, and if yes, sets a timeline for when it changes.

Step 6: Town puts out notice that change is coming and communicates when traffic pattern will change. i.e. media, signs on Rt 36 warning that Valley will be one way starting “Nov – whatever”, sends out email blast, etc.

Step 7: Install signs

Public Questions in Tuesday’s Election – Why You May Want To Vote ‘No’

In last year’s election, most of Highlands voters voted for Non-partisan, which moved the elections to May 2014.

February 2014, Highlands United petitioned to move the elections back to November to save the town money.

The Highlands Council, delayed voting on that petition until it was too late to gather signatures forcing the question in the May election.  They *further* voted against adding it on the May ballot, citing “constituents” were confused.

For more information/refresher click Are You Confused Highlands?

After the May elections, the council voted to add the question to Tuesday’s election.

This benefited the Council two ways- ensured the incumbents were not voted out tomorrow, two – made sure the incumbents were allowed to stay in office for an extra 6 months.

What have the incumbents accomplished since they took office Jan 1, 2013?

a) Flood mitigation – No

b) Cut Spending  – No

c) Brought back business on Bay Ave? – No

d) Limit the time constituents have to speak at council meetings, so they don’t have to hear about not accomplishing important things, – Yes

e) Vote in a Resolution that all volunteers(regardless of when/how they volunteered) must add a disclosure on Facebook as an intimidation tactic so that they don’t have to read about their short comings on Facebook? – Yes

By Voting NO, you give the possibility of new candidates getting in sooner. There is also the opportunity to move the elections back to November after next May’s election.

What it’s going to cost Highlands? 7k.

Let’s look at how Highlands has recovered since Sandy:

Collected Grant monies to start flood mitigation? – Nope

Collected Flood Insurance money to repair Borough hall or community center? – Nope

Collected volunteered hours and submitted them for reimbursement?  – Nope

Cut any expenditures departmentally within the Borough? – Nope

Some times you have to spend money to save money long-term, think about a broken down car that you spend money month after month to repair, if you buy a newer, more reliable car, it will cost you short-term, but saves you long-term. – Same thing here.





Election Time in Highlands 2014 – what you are voting on

election ballot 1

There are a few components to this year elections on Nov 4th.  The first is US Senate, House of Representatives (Think how much Pallone has helped Highlands since Sandy) & Monmouth County Freeholder.

The second piece voters choose members on the  Highlands School boards.

You have two seats available at the Henry Hudson District and the Highlands Board of Education, (Basically the elementary school district.

The last are public questions. One of which is at the local Highlands level.
election ballot 3

The first public question asks if voters approve amending the Constitution to allow a court to order pretrial detention of a person in a criminal case, changing the current constitutional right to bail.

The second public question asks if voters approve amending the Constitution to dedicate certain State revenues each year for environmental programs.

The third public questions asks Highlands voters if the local non-partisan elections (council and mayor positions) should be in May 2015 or November 2015.

Normally, non-partisan elections are held in May instead of November.  There is an opportunity to move it back to November and have it aligned with the normal election date. The down side to that would be the current incumbents would keep their seats for the extra time without being challenged.

New Disclaimer Proposed for Highlands Residents on Facebook

my opinion What you need to know about R- 14- 220:


Highlands New Jersey Facebook “Group”

The Borough of Highlands wants to mandate that any elected official, official, employee, agent, representative, and volunteer must include a disclosure on any post to the Highlands, New Jersey Facebook page (which there actually isn’t one, there is a Highlands, New Jersey Facebook Group – you can tell by the word groups in the url) OR any other social media site (pretty loose scope).

The proposed disclosure shall read “the following is a statement, comment or posting of [your name here] only and does not represent an official statement, comment or posting on behalf of the Borough of Highlands.”

A few things here:

a) All of the things that need to be accomplished in Highlands: Flood mitigation, Town Hall & PD station repaired, Tax stabilization, Attracting businesses to Bay Ave, and they chose this as a priority??  Really?

b) The proposed resolution is so broadly written it opens the door to selective enforcement, which in I’m guessing was purposefully done.

c) It appears to be another way to gag residents. First they limited the amount of time you have to ask questions in a council meeting. Now they are trying to legislate how you communicate on social media.

HB fb page

Highlands Blog Facebook “Page”

d) If their assertion that people are getting “confused” because Highlands is in the title of the social media site, then ask the social media site owner to disclose its not an Official Highlands Borough Social Media site.  I know this should be obvious already to anybody going to the said page/groups etc. But some people apparently get easily confused.  This Blog has a facebook page. (You can tell because it has the word “page” in the url) and its always had in the header “Personal Blog”)

e) A better way to handle it would be to have an official Highlands Borough Facebook Page & Twitter Account. (Like other towns, i.e. Middletown, or Hazlet) for “Official communication”.

f) Another potential way to handle it would be to have “officials” put a disclaimer up when they are posting “official” business. This way its a much narrower scope, easier to enforce and doesn’t force 1/2 the town to write a disclosure when they post anything anywhere.  Have you ever volunteered for anything in town, ever? Well then my fellow resident, you would be considered a volunteer under this proposed resolution.

g) The disclaimer doesn’t fit in a Tweet – (which is only 140 characters), what happens there?

h) Its on the Highlands Agenda for Wednesday Night’s Council Meeting at 8pm HES. If you feel like this is a joke and want our elected officials to spend more time fixing our town, getting grants and stabilizing taxes, you might want to come and speak out. (But do it in 3 minutes or less.)

i) This resolution seems to be counter productive.  If you volunteer you’re not allowed to post on social media with out disclosure, and if you post on certain outlets, you can’t volunteer. Here are some of the social media outlets that could be considered if you ever volunteered and post on:

Instagram (You want to post a pic of Twin Lights, make sure you disclose that’s your pic and has nothing to do with the Town.)
Google +
Any Comments section of any web site
Google Talk
Yahoo Buzz

How to Increase Revenue & Save Money in Highlands

Attached is a pdf from 2010 that address some ideas on how to cut spending increase revenues.

Some of the ideas at a high level include:

  • Code Enforcement
  • Recycling
  • Selling off some Boro vehicles
  • Admin/Shared Services
  • Hydro Alternative Energy
  • Streamline Mercantile process

To review Down Load the .pdf –>FY2010 Budget committee recommendations  (You will need adobe acrobat to view)

What other ideas can be included to either cut spending or create revenue?


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:

Mayor Introduces Resolution Limiting Speaking Time of Residents

Time LimitIn the June 18th council meeting Mayor Nolan introduced R-14-161, which limits resident speaking time to 2 minutes. Further, it instructs the Governing body members to not respond to the questions of the resident until that resident has finished speaking in his/her entirety. So, if you have 3 questions, you have to ask all three questions before the council responds and there are no guarantee that all 3 questions will be addressed.

It also states

“Once a member of the public has spoken, he/she shall not be recognized again until all other members of the public who have not spoken have been given the chance to do so “

So if you want clarification on something after your 2 minutes are up, you’re not allowed to speak again until all other residents have spoken.

What do you think about the new time limit?





Bayside Drive Residents Request Annexation to the Borough of Atlantic Highlands

bayside drive houses According to Resolution R 14 160, several homeowners on Bayside Drive sent the Highlands Borough a Letter of Intent requesting annexation to the Borough of Atlantic Highlands.

Three of the properties requesting are:

  • 280 Bayside Drive
  • 284 Bayside Drive
  • 290 Bayside Drive

Those properties run in between Shore Drive and Bayside Drive. The Borough of Highlands supports the annexation of those properties and is considering a consenting resolution upon receipt of the actual petition.

The premise is because their homes are inaccessible from Highlands Emergency services because Bayside Drive is closed to through traffic between Highlands and Atlantic Highlands. You know because the road is collapsing. Not because of slump blocking or hill issues, just because.

It’ll be interesting to see if there are other homes following suit requesting annexation to other towns. Wouldn’t it be funny if the majority of the town requested annexation to Atlantic Highlands, Middletown and Sea Bright?


Zoning Overturns Initial Hennessey Decision

You may remember last year when there was a brouhaha on Rick Hennessey opening his repair shop on Bay Avenue.

Following Superstorm Sandy in 2012 the Swantons who have owned 75 Bay Avenue since 2003 had their son-in-law, Rick Hennessey, who had operated Sea Bright Service Center, and lost his location due to the storm, operate his auto repair and towing business next to their HVAC shop.

When the Swanton’s initially purchased the property, one side of the building was used for lobster/seafood sales, and the other side had been used for auto repairs. Shortly after taking title the owners evicted the lobster/seafood use and proceeded to leased to their nephew -in-law, Ted Schred, who had used as a candle warehouse.

Thinking that, the property had historically been used for the same or similar auto repair uses there would be no problem in Hennessey doing the same type of business again. Also, the building is located in an area which has flooded in the past, it would not be conducive to have a concrete floor for something other than automotive repairs, since it could be subject to flooding and who would use it for any type of retail or office use.

The Zoning Board ultimately found that there was neither an intent to abandon the automotive repair shop use nor any overt act done which would imply an intent to abandon the automotive repair shop use.

The Board initially scheduled a hearing in this case for April 14, 2013, which the hearing date was subsequently adjourned on five occasions, and ultimately heard on February 6, 2014.

Better late than never…

Are you Confused Highlands?

At Wednesday Nights Council meeting, If you tune into the streamed meeting and fast forward to the 5.28 minute mark you hear about O-147-7 (Moving the nonpartisan elections back to November after the initial May election, which ultimately would horse quotesave the town money.) You remember the Non-Partisan thing right? 728 of you voted for it last November. That thing that takes out the Democrat and Republican labels off at the local level and opens up the candidate pool to others wanting to run for office. The initial election has to happen in May, then its totally feasible to move back to November.

Well, Councilman Francy offered up the ordinance to do this, and nobody seconded it. {crickets} Kind of weird since both Council woman’s Kane and Ryan back in November erected signs AGAINST the non-partisan with the premise that moving the election to May would just cost the town too much money.  Apparently they are not concerned about the money now.

But it gets better.. fast forward to the 24.15 min mark in the streamed meeting and watch to about the 26 min mark. Their rationale for crickets is, “Many people [contacted various council members] on moving the election and thought {the whole non-partisan thing} was just really confusing.”

First off, the online agenda that was put up early Wednesday morning, didn’t even include the proposed ordinance so who knew it was agenda feb19going to be offered up to proactively voice their confusion?  Second, 728 people weren’t confused on the movement or the election process in November, so it’s quite presumptuous on the council’s part to assume that most Highlanders are “confused”. Maybe I just have more faith in the intelligence of my fellow residents than they do.

When pressured on it, the council back peddled that them not moving it forward on it Wednesday night didn’t mean they were never going to move it forward, it just meant they were going to wait until sometime after the first election as to not  confuse us simpleton Highlanders.

If you are NOT confused, I suggest you write an email to the council with the subject line “I AM NOT CONFUSED”

Frank Nolan
Council President
Rebecca Kane
Kevin Redmond
Christopher Francy
Tara Ryan