Thursday, September 8, 2016

Take back Lakewood – the movement starts now

By: Take back Lakewood 

As you all know Lakewood has experienced explosive growth. I watch all of the Zoning and Planning Board meetings and I am astounded at high density plans that seem to get approval after approval for no rhyme or reason. Old single family houses are knocked down to be replaced by a cul-de-sac with 7 homes. Forget duplexes, now there are triplexes. Yes, a single property becomes 3 upstairs and 3 downstairs families with 9-12 cars. Blocks with 10 homes and 10 families suddenly host 20-35 homes with 40-70 families and 80-140 cars. Traffic is getting worse and worse. Simple streets that should take minutes to travel across end up congested all day long. So why are all of these properties getting approved?


Even assuming that no illegal activities are taking place to get these approvals, it is very clear that the builders and developers have very close connections with the powers that be. There are less than a handful of lawyers and less than a handful of Professional Planners who appear before the board. It is sadly comical to watch as application after application is heard and it is the same exact Planner standing up there before the board explaining why this application should be approved. More often than not, a key part of the argument rests on the following.

A)     All we are asking for is a variance of 7 feet (in the front and another 12 feet in the back and 9 feet on each side etc). Yes we need 25 parking spots but please grant us just 18. Keep in mind – last week you approved a similar variance! I’ve been before this board so many times and for so many years and they approved applications that pushed the line almost as far as this one, so that is now the new precedent. All I’m asking for now is to get just a small addition to what I’m already ‘entitled’ to.

B)      This town has a housing shortage. We urgently need to help build more houses and higher density so that people have a place to live.

C)      The master plan calls for more high density housing and if you twist the words in the master plan it practically requires you to approve this very application because after all, the master plan obviously wanted this and therefore it is obviously good for our town.  

In regard to A, zoning laws were made for a reason. Builders should be required to for the most part conform to the laws. Can an occasional variance be requested and granted? Possibly. If circumstances warrant. However, that should be the exception and not the rule. Lately, every application has more and more and more variances and the assumption is that they should surely be granted since it’s just a few feet here and a few feet there. After all is said and done it makes a big difference. Apparently the lawyers and planners are too comfortable with the board and they’ve pushed the line so far and created new base lines making hitting a home run far too easy.

In regard to B, it seems that the majority of new houses built are being marketed (and priced) to people that don’t currently live in Lakewood. While I have nothing against people wanting to move here, Lakewood is by no means responsible to make changes to accommodate, and enable hundreds of people to move into small spaces further stretching out already taught infrastructure. We talk and talk about one day having 225K residents living in Lakewood. WAIT!! Why do we need to do that? Besides for the now available housing in Toms River, Jackson, Howell and Brick, why does Lakewood NEED to grow to 225K residents? What if there is simply no room for that? Is there really nowhere else for people to live? When will it end? Do we need to one day accommodate 500K? Or can there be a point where we’ve run out of room? Why can’t that point be now? Why the need to stretch and stretch to fill every lot with 6-8 families?

In regard to C, this is our chance. Every 10 years a new Master Plan is discussed, reviewed and adopted. The plan that is currently being drafted will pave the way for the next 10 years in Lakewood. Every allowance mentioned in there calling for more housing and higher density will be used by lawyers for the next 10 years to request more and more variances, approvals, and soon quadplexes. We must all give input to our elected officials that we do NOT need Lakewood to grow to 225K residents (doubling our current size!). We need the master plan to carefully restrain further building and not allow rampant density to continue and get worse.

So who gains from all of the new construction? 1) Developers 2) Builders 3) Realtors 4) Lawyers 5)Professional Planners (remember – they are paid by their client to explain how building a cul-de-sac where there was once a single house makes perfect sense) 6)People in NY who can’t afford a NY house but jump for the opportunity to buy a duplex in Lakewood for $650K. I truly hope that no committee members gain from any of this….

But who loses? All of the residents of Lakewood. Our quality of life goes drastically down as the traffic and congestion goes up. Even people moving from Brooklyn will one day no longer want to move here as the congestion and poor quality of live will rival Brooklyn’s! So why do we need to wait until that point? Why allow the city that we love and live in to spiral downward? Please stand up and make your voice heard.

·   We DON’T want more density.
·   We DON’T want to create new cul-de-sacs all over town.
·   We DON’T want our quiet block to suddenly turn into a feeder to dozens of new houses bringing traffic and dozens of new people and cars to the area.
·   We DON’T need to be the haven to accommodate and invite people looking to escape congested cities only to lead to the ultimate congestion of our city
·   We WANT zoning laws to be strictly upheld.
·   We WANT to new Master Plan to more strictly limit new building and not encourage more density
·   We WANT to reclaim our quality of life and not stand by watching a few people take it all away from us.

So what can I do?
Email your committeemen  - mlichtenstein@lakewoodnj.gov   – mmiller@lakewoodnj.gov  – mdelia@lakewoodnj.gov   – aakerman@lakewoodnj.com   - rcoles@lakewoodnj.gov

Beg them to reconsider the status quo and take into account the needs of the majority of Lakewood’s current residents before the pockets of a few builders and developers. And if they don’t listen? Oh there are plenty of others that would take their place on the committee in a heartbeat. Let this be the beginning of a movement. Take back Lakewood. It’s 2016. Let this travel via social media. Let the voices of the public be heard. And if they are not heard through our current politicians, let’s replace them and find others who agree to represent the majority and not just the powerbrokers.

The movement starts now. What was once the ‘powerful and few’ against the ‘weak and many’ will now shift as the many (yes that’s me and you) exercise our collective voice as one. Email TakeBackLakewood@gmail.com  to share what you did and can do to reclaim our town. 

30 comments:

  1. Great ideas, but please wait until I buy a home, and move out of my rental, I also need a place to call mine own. Why are only aren't people renting in Lakewood called "current residence"?

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    1. Move to Jackson, you will have a higher quality of life and get more for your money. If my children were younger, I would.

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    2. In Jackson they have a rent control board. Their Mayor and committeemen would not have the nerve to screw over their own residents and abolish the Board and pay-off a connected "advocate." Why is Menashe treating a town with so many Jewish tenants worse than even Jackson??? Or Howell? Shouldn't we try to be better.. or at least as good to our own residents???

      I also watched the 25 second clip of Menashe and crew make the first reading to REPEAL the rent control board in its entirety. It is unheard of anywhere to do something this crazy!!!! For close to 50 years everything was fine.. no community advocate necessary.. Suddenly menashe gets some power and a short while later all his "buddies" get special favors.. He will even ABOLISH A GOVERNMENT BOARD just to appease some powerful landlord.

      We can all wonder what someone is getting in return.

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  2. Wow! Excellent points!! Why do we need to accommodate every builder and developer at everyone else's expense? Why are we loosening zoning laws and not tightening them? I bought on a quiet block that is now turning into a zoo of new houses with an inch in between them.

    Enough is enough!

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  3. I agree with this post 100%. In the past anyone who complained about building was labeled a selfish troublemaker, however I believe that will no longer be the case.

    The Township Committee went to far and allowed too much. Lakewood is more congested than Brooklyn. Brooklyn has wide avenues and plenty of thru streets. Traffic moves slowly, but it moves.

    I would like to add a suggestion, I went to a planning board meeting to protest a development last week. I waited 2 hours, and eventually they pushed off the hearing for another month. People don't have time to attend every meeting.

    We need to create a rotation where 5 people will go to each meeting to protest and speak out against every single variance that is requested. Zoning is the law, variances are an exception to the law. At this point no case can be made that any varaince benefits the people of Lakewood.

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  4. People need to come to the meetings discussing the master plan and ask pointed questions as to why we are encouraging ore and more density.

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    Replies
    1. They willwait you out and push it off to the next meeting. What we need is an organized large group of people that attend every meeting in shifts and protest every variance.

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  5. Despite what anyone says, there will never be roads that can accommodate this traffic.

    There are only 2 streets that currently intersect the town from North to South. Both one lane streets. They can never build more because of the Lake and county parks.

    Stop the insanity!

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  6. Im a renter living in town for over 10 years. Lakewood is my home are here, my family and friends. My kids are in schools here all their friends live here. What am I supposed to do, I want to stay, I cant afford a home at the current prices, the only option is to build more which will keep prices low. Yes theres traffic and congestion but overall its a inconvenience im willing to live with

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    Replies
    1. Hmm, has building more been working to keep prices low? All they do is give you less and less property for more and more money

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    2. There is no evidence that the additional building will lower prices, it is only attracting people from out of town, which jacks up prices. Prices have exploded as the building booms.

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    3. Forget about buying a house. Menashe & company want to make it hard to be a tenant as well. Abolishing to entire rent control board is their latest devious plan. They already own fine homes and will be sure to arrange for their kids not to be tenants in this town. Don't be fooled by the smokescreen they're throwing at you. Mr. Mike McNeil the STEPS advocate is a just another paid puppet.

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  7. Excellent well written article. It's just sad that it had to get to this point before everyone started to wake up. A total moratorium on all building until a complete overhaul of the master plan, which was rewritten 15 years ago by builders and developers, is imperative. Hopefully after the new year starts there will be such frustration with our quality of life, that a recall of Meir and Menashe will not be out of the question. They are the problem, plain and simple.

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    Replies
    1. You've been yelling this for years......no one listened.

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    2. Moratorium on ALL BUILDING: including behemoth 6-story buildings downtown that will completely destroy the area.

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    3. It's 5 stories an I totally agree. By all means make a moratorium on all 5 story buildings and let's fix up the downtown. But don't put a 5story building next to me and destroy my business and expect me to sit around and do nothing. Let twitch no choice unfortunately.

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    4. Herschel, you may have a chance for being elected for mayor at the next election. People are starting to wake up.

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  8. Start a fund (gofundme page)until there is enough $$$ to pay someone really competent to run a campaign full time. I think funding will come in,in no time.

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  9. Not to worry, the Township committee has a plan. Starting in 2018 all vehicular traffic will be banned in Lakewood, with the exceptions of emergency services, members of the Township Committee, Developers, Builders, and all other personnel deemed essential.

    Route 9 will be widened to accommodate Bike Lanes. There will be no more busing to schools. Parents will be required to purchase gyro-copters http://www.rotorvox.com/en/ to ferry there children to school.

    School times will be staggered as gyro-copters have a maximum capacity of 2 people.

    Iorio construction will be available to build hangers for the gyro-copters in your backyard. They should fit in the standard back yard, unless your home was built with a zoning variance

    To accommodate future anticipate growth, zoning will be changed to prohibit the building of single family homes. With the exception of 14th Street, Duplexes with 2 basement rentals will be the minimum amount of units allowed per lot.

    To accommodate commuters, a parking lot will be created on the outskirts of town where people can leave their cars. The L-Bus Service will be expanded to include those parking lots.

    Bids for constructing the parking lots as well as the digital billboards in said parking lots will be accepted at an undisclosed location.

    To insure that the builders hire the proper attorneys and urban planners, only those who have built a minimum of 100 homes in Lakewood will be permitted to bid.

    Any questions can be directed to the Ocean County Rent Control Board.

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  10. BTW. , I think the Rosh Hayeshivas would agree with you
    With this growth we are getting a lot of new problems
    People moving here who are coming with a lot of baggage
    Drugs
    More youth on the fringe
    Life is becoming so hectic and tense with the traffic that people forget babies in cars
    OVER 100 accidents a WEEK!!
    Who's fault is that?
    In addition rent has skyrocketed
    People can't afford these high mortgages
    And when u have large families crammed together hosts of other social ills take place
    Ladies seeing what yenna has and getting jealous
    Hearing what goes on in ur neighbors basement
    One bad apple in a complex ruining kids
    Babies running into crammed streets
    AND THE LEADERS OF THISVTOWN JUST DONT GIVE A $&@%#
    People , keep posting here
    EVERYONE READS THIS ESPECIALLY LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP AND THE ASBURY PARK PRESS

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  11. Oh I forgot to add
    The master plan should be
    Slow down or halt to new development
    More highways bridges red lights streets
    And the funding to pay for new parks lights water bridges by the builders themselves
    WE THE PEOPLE AS A WHOLE DONT GAIN SNYTHING FROM MORE PEOLE MOVING HERE
    It's just becoming more expensive
    Taxes higher not lower
    And harder to get into our schools
    And even if we do the quality of education diminishes due to overcrowding
    Plus less jobs avail
    Menashe , Albert , Meir , I love you guys , you're my friends , but I hope you listen to the people not the 5% at the top

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  12. All of these units are for the Brooklyn people & chasidim that are looking for cheaper housing in a frum community.
    It's very profitable for "ALL" involved.
    True it's a tremendous injustice actually criminal of what's being done to the current residents all because of GREED.
    Even when they all land up getting to pick where they'll "serve-time", the damage is irreversible.
    The Brooklynites & Chasidim will at least do one thing, "end the Vaad mafia" only to be replaced by a new one.
    That's GREED

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  13. Just emailed them. Will you?

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  14. Just emailed them too

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  15. I want to give money to any fund that will hire a lawyer to stop this madness! Someone please start a fund. Let's try And see what happens.

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  16. Yaamod Herschel to begin this fund. We trust you and would all finance this venture. I will give the first 100$

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  17. There is no need for a fund it is called get out and vote.

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  18. Higher density won't change the price of houses. There is a certain amount of money that most people can afford to spend on a mortgage. That amount hasn't changed in years. 15 years ago you could buy a house for that amount, today you get a tiny duplex. Why? Because the Township allowed it. The stupid part is that even the builders barely gain. As soon as higher density is allowed, the price of land goes up to adjust for the fact that you can squeeze more units in. 

    When the Township choose to ignore illegal rental units in the basement and attic you think they are doing the homeowner a favor?? All that does is push the price of housing higher. Now in order to afford a house you have to live with two basement rentals and one in the attic. If the Township would crack down the prices would drop a little. 


    One last thing. I'd add something onto the list. We live in an electronic age when every set of plans are prepared in computer programs and can be printed in Pdf. Why are submissions to the approval boards on hard copy?? One simple reason, it makes it difficult for you and me to figure out what's going on and what the application is all about. You have to go to the Township to review the plans or shlep to the meeting and try to look over the engineers shoulder while he sells "Lokshan Torah". 


    I think it's about time that the plans for every application should be required to be posted on the Township website 10 days prior to the meeting! Let us look at the plans and decide for ourselves if they make sense instead of trying to read between the lines of the testimony at the meeting

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    Replies
    1. You are on the right track, but the deception is even worse, when they discuss the plans for the meeting, notices to neighbors are sent with block and lot numbers only, not streets, so you have no way of knowing what it's about unless you go down to the township first.

      Additionally, there is not set time for each item on the agenda, you can wait for hours until they get to the item you came down for, and then, if they sense their are people there to object, they just push it off till the next meeting.

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  19. This is piloted by the older investors hat don't want the freshies building and bringing ow their exploded prices

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