Motive Questioned

Jul 31, 2019

To the Editor:

If you read James Vogel’s letter last week (“Kudos to Developers”), you may have noticed how he questioned everything about me without stating why he is so adamant that the current Morrison’s plan is great for Beach Haven. Whenever I read or hear criticisms of the messenger I always wonder about the motive, especially when the two parties do not know each other.

I may have met James once at the developer’s presentation at the LBI Maritime Museum. That’s it. I do not know who he is, and I would venture to say he does not know me.

For the record (again), I believe in responsible development, including the Morrison’s development. As I stated in my original Commentary in The SandPaper, I have two primary concerns with the plan submitted by Chris Vernon concerning the Morrison’s Marina site. First is the environment and second, the inadequate parking placing the daily burden of inadequate parking on our community.

I agree that Bill Burris and Jay Cranmer’s completed projects have generally improved the Beach Haven visitor’s experience. I believe both developers compromised aspects of their plan at the borough’s request, and I know the borough provided incentives and compromise that helped their projects. I also believe an increased burden has been placed on Beach Haven residents, visitors and merchants when the council used an outdated and ineffective 2013 parking ordinance in considering these projects.

James mentions two other developers, Terry Moeller (and Tom Bertussi) and Chris Vernon. He writes about the developers meeting all of the regulations and compromising on behalf of our community.  This statement is simply inaccurate.

The Moeller/Bertussi Victoria Rose project has a long way to go to achieve the point of meeting zoning regulations and public approval, including a legal challenge filed by 32 local plaintiffs questioning the land use board’s method of approving the site plan, after it had been previously denied. It is fair to say their site plan has not been completely approved. I have heard that Moeller/Bertussi are presenting an alternative site plan to the borough council this Thursday, Aug. 1.

For Morrison’s, Vernon has not submitted a site plan. The redevelopment agreement is not finished.  They just have presented “the rendering.” The redevelopment plan, which was approved by council last fall, is being challenged through litigation. Morrison’s has not yet received any state permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection, as they first need a site plan.

Crediting both developers for complying with regulations and compromising their plans on behalf of our community is only wishful thinking at this time.

To James’ other misstated representations:

James described me as a “relative newcomer to our fair burg.” You decide: My family has vacationed here beginning in 1985, we have been a property owner/taxpayer since 1996, we took up full-time residency in 2016, and I am a small business owner with a Beach Haven office since 2018. I am not a “local” as I understand the term, but a newcomer?

I have maligned the Station 117, Victoria Rose and Morrison’s developments? Utter nonsense. I have concerns about each development, and I openly share them. My issues are with the decision-making of the borough council and LUB, not Jay, Tom, Bill or Chris. Remember, our borough council decided to use an obsolete parking ordinance that enabled a 160- to 170-seat restaurant to be built with a net three to four additional parking spaces. That is not Jay’s issue, as he simply followed the council’s approval.

My opinion is that our council, LUB and borough manager can do a better job. I have shared this opinion at public meetings, and I believe we all need to expect more from them. And ourselves: I have expressed my own shortcomings and I am committed to continuing to improve. And, we all need to express our opinions about issues that impact our community.

James writes that if I disagree with our elected representative, I should run for office. Sadly, this mimics the rhetoric that has become too common today. A democracy is intended to benefit from the wisdom of the crowd, assertively encouraging opinions that are different. This has not been my observation with our elected representatives here in Beach Haven, and it appears to be the feeling about how our democracy works, in general.

And finally, “the small, very vocal group of dissenters” includes Engage Beach Haven with over 275 interested members. EBH is about trying to disseminate the information we get from the council and various meetings to members and anyone interested, in a timely way so that “Beach Haveners” (locals or visitors) can have a voice and possibly influence great, long-term outcomes. Our motto is “a Beach Haven future generations will be proud of.” And James’ opinion that EBH is about “ruling by committee” is false. Personally, I believe this method of governance would be ineffective.

So, in the end I wonder about James’ motive for criticizing me with misinformation rather than sharing his ideas on why the Morrison’s project, as is, would be great for Beach Haven.

John Harvey

Beach Haven



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