Back in June of 2013, I wrote about CVS moving across the street from Eastpoint Plaza to the old Quick chek plaza. Well almost 18 months to the day, the new CVS superstore will open.
Oct 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 http://bit.ly/1wmtpSb, signs on Rt 36 warning that Valley will be one way starting “Nov – whatever”, sends out email blast, etc.
Step 7: Install signs
Click through and then keep hitting the > button to go through the whole presentation.
Robert T. Bland, 41, whose most recent known address was in Highlands, N.J., allegedly filed a fraudulent application for FEMA rental assistance following Hurricane Sandy. Bland allegedly received a total of $19,385 in federal rental assistance as a result of the false application. Bland allegedly claimed that he was renting a room at the Thunderbird Motel in Seaside Heights at the time of Superstorm Sandy and was displaced as a result of the storm. Although a female friend of Bland had rented a room at the motel a short time before Sandy, she moved out approximately a week before the storm hit, and Bland allegedly never resided with her and her child at the motel. Bland submitted a letter that purported to be from the Thunderbird Motel in support of his application, vouching that he lived there, but the letter allegedly was fraudulent. The room Bland claimed he occupied at the time of the storm actually was occupied by a couple and was not the room that had been rented by his friend. Bland is charged with third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree falsification.
For the full story click here
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.
As an effort to communicate. councilman Doug Card will be hosting bi-weekly round table conversation open to all. his first round table discussion will be Saturday, November 1 at Bay Avenue Bakery, 9 AM. He hopes to see you there. The goal of the roundtable is so that there is greater communication without boundaries to discuss all the issues confronting Highlands post Sandy. For the first round table there will be no set topic or agenda. There may be one other council there to answer questions.
The second piece voters choose members on the Highlands School boards.
The last are public questions. One of which is at the local Highlands level.
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.
October 2013 we went to Henry Hudson and listened to the Highlands Prioritization Report at the FEMA recovery meeting. I wanted to give an update of where we are.
|Highlands Project Prioritization Oct 2013||V||I||D||Final Priority Ranking||Completed by Oct 2014|
|STORM WATER DRAINAGE & FLOOD MITIGATION||58||5||0||Vital||N|
|DIRECT PIPING OF STORM WATER FROM RT 36 TO RIVER||55||7||1||Vital||N|
|ASSESS, REPAIR, & UPGRADE SANITARY SYSTEM TO REDUCE I &I, LOWER RATES TO CUSTOMERS||49||9||2||Vital||N|
|US ARM CORP OF ENGINEERS IDEAS||41||3||1||Vital||N|
|BAY AVE RENAISSANCE||34||13||8||Vital||N|
|CAPITALIZING ON SANDY HOOK & HIGHLANDS WATERFRONT||24||16||10||Important||N|
|ENHANCE STEEP SLOPE STABILITY TOWN WIDE||21||22||4||Important||N|
|CODE COMPLIANCE & ENFORCEMENT||21||18||13||Important||N*|
|COMMUNITY CENTER REDEVELOPMENT||16||20||15||Important||N|
|WATERFRONT PROMOTION MARITIME HISTORY & THE ARTS||11||18||20||Important||N|
* October 22, 2014 an ordinance was passed to give the town more leverage to go after abandoned/foreclosed homes.
Carolyn Broullon has thrown her hat in the local Highlands political ring. The timing of when she gets in, next May or the following November, is up to you and how you vote in this November’s election of when the next Non-Partisan Election should be.
Here is her statement on who she is and what she stands for:
I discovered Highlands in 2002 while looking for a vacation home. After a few months, I realized what an amazing town this is and got rid of my NYC apartment to live here full time. It took a while to learn all my neighbor’s names and stories since I worked in Manhattan and wasn’t around from 7:30 am – 7:30 pm on workdays. Now, I’m proud to say we’re not just neighbors but good friends.
After Sandy, so many of us were either living out of town or simply couldn’t make it up the hill to go to the council meetings, so my wife and I signed up for a free uStream.tv account, bought a USB microphone and started streaming the meetings from our Mac laptop. We felt it was important for those displaced to have a way to see the council meetings, to participate in our future.
At the end of last summer, a group of residents came together to try to help the town move forward by re-introducing non-partisan elections to Highlands. We met as strangers with different ideas and party affiliations, but banded together to make our town more than just Democrats and Republicans. After knocking on doors and educating residents on how non-partisan election work, we successfully changed how we elect our council people in Highlands. This is now a direct process in which political party leaders do not choose who is on the ballot, Highlanders do.
My professional background has prepared me well for serving Highlands. I’ve been working in market research since 1992, coordinating international fieldwork, conducting focus groups and managing staff. My start in research was at Data Development, now known as Radius Global Market Research [one of the largest independent market research firm in the US], then on to Research International, now a part of TNS in the WPP Group [one of the top 5 market research firms in the world]. From 1999-2006, I had my own research business then I went on to my current position Vice President of Gazelle Global.
Skills I’ve honed along the way include budgeting, staff management, contract negotiations and conflict resolution. Most of all, my training has given me the tools to listen to people and transform those thoughts and ideas into action. I believe I can use my business experience to help our town. Now that I’m working from home, I have the time to do just that. We need so many things, but we must also prioritize.
Here’s a short list of actions I believe will make a difference in everyday Highlander’s lives:
1. Negotiate a resolution to Borough Hall and the Community Center empty buildings
2. Aggressive code enforcement to bring in much needed revenue
3. Review current operational cost and make cuts where appropriate
4. Remove ordinances that hinder new business development
We need to embrace the use of volunteers to contribute to a town-wide recovery including: light construction, painting, weed-whacking and street sweeping. There are many things we can do locally, without state or Federal funding. We have many tradespeople in town that can guide volunteers to complete much needed projects.
Those of you that know me have seen this example, but for those of you who do not:
In December of 2008, a serve flood wiped out a road to a state park in Hawaii. After being told by the state that repairs would take $4 million dollars and up to 2 years to fix, the residents and business owners came together, rented heavy equipment, got some volunteers, and in April of 2009, they did it themselves, in 8 days.
What’s on your short list? What are your ideas? Don’t be shy. Tell me. I’m listening.
Yours for Highlands,
P.S. Broullon is pronounced brew-yawn. Just think: You brew coffee so you don’t yawn.
1. R-14-220 In case you haven’t seen the app.com from last night, the council by a vote of 3-2, (Becky, Nolan, Redmond Y, Card/Ryan N) approved a proposal at Wednesday night’s meeting to require everyone from employees to volunteers to include a disclaimer when they comment on an unofficial Highlands Facebook group page or any other social media outlet. What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. It was a futile attempt at intimidation. There is no recourse outlined. So they passed a resolution to make certain council members feel better with the intent of intimidating residents and is not worth the paper its typed out on. (Shows were the council focus is though)
2. Fees for Peddler licenses were increased from $25 to $50 for vendors with a vehicle.
3. They increased the number of peddlers/vendors from 6 – 10.
4. O-14-24 The Council passed an Ordinance to adopt a State ordinance that allows the town to go after residential and commercial properties vacant and in foreclosure. It was noted that having the power to something and actually doing something are two separate things.
5. A portion of Valley Street up by Rt 36 is now one way from Highlands Blvd to Rt 36.
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.
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”)
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.)
Any Comments section of any web site
The Highlands Senior Citizen Group will be having a Halloween Luncheon on Thursday, October 23rd at 12:00 noon at the VFW Hall on 331 Bay Ave. The cost is $5.00 per person which includes pizza, soda, donuts, apple cider, and coffee. Come join us for a Spooktacular Day of fun, games, and spooky music. Enter our Costume Contest for Scariest, Most Original, and Funniest costume. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Rose at 732-291-7512 or Judith at 732-291-9249 by October 20th.
Halloween Costume Contest & Magic Show
The Borough of Highlands Recreation Dept. will be having its Halloween Costume Contest and a Magic Show on Sunday, October 26th at the Henry Hudson Regional School Cafeteria. The Costume Contest will begin promptly at 1:00 pm and the Magic Show will begin at 1:30 pm. Categories for participation in the contest are as follows: Ages 3 and under; Ages 4, 5, & 6; Ages 7, 8, & 9; Ages 10 and up; and Themed Group (3 or more people). Prizes, refreshments, and candy will be available. Please call 732-872-1224 ext. 232 if you have any questions.
According today’s App.com Union Beach Borough Council recently put a law on the books that requires owners of vacant homes (mostly bank owned and negligent landlords) to register those properties by escalating annual fees that begin at $500 and top out, after three consecutive years, at $5,000.
The new ordinance puts strict requirements on owners to maintain the appearance of the property — mowing lawns and picking up trash — and also perform repair or remediation on the interior of the home as well.
Violators are subject to fines up to $1,000 per instance and those penalties can be assessed as liens on the property.
Jennifer Wenson Maier (UB Borough Administrator ) is well aware that many Union Beach families were forced out of their homes after Superstorm Sandy and still are trying to figure out the finances to return. Even though it doesn’t specify what kind of owner these rules can be enforced upon, the borough will not apply it to those people, she said.
Union Beach is not looking to go after homeowners who are looking to go back into their homes, they are specifically targeting bank-owned properties and to negligent landlords.
Some of the dangers reported are: raccoons, skunks, rodents, rats, kids going into them, lower property values for neighboring homes, and because of the high grass, people using them as a dumping ground, and mold in the homes in many cases.
According to APP.com, State of NJ announced this week that 33 gas stations (one of which is Quick Chek on Route 36 on the western edge of Highlands)— using $1.8 million in government grants — have been approved to move forward with plans to retrofit their operations for a backup power supply, so they can continue to sell gas during a crisis with widespread power outages.
The approved stations, which were eligible for the grant because of their strategic location along shore evacuation routes, will be either installing connection points for mobile generators or buying and fitting permanent backup generators.
During Sandy I think most of us remember having to either drive down 36 to either Sunaco or Wawa and waiting on-line.