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Deal is trying to sell parts of the beach again

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Wealthy Jersey Shore town tries to sell beachfront lot. Not so fast, state says.

 

Updated Feb 19, 6:41 PM; Posted Feb 19, 10:00 AM

 

The Borough of Deal wants to sell a .17-acre parcel at the end of Roosevelt Avenue for $1 million to the adjacent homeowner, two years after trying to sell another beachfront parcel to another property owner, on Neptune Avenue. Beach access advocates have fought both proposals.Google

By Steve Strunsky | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

 

Echoing a similar beach access controversy that’s still unresolved, a proposal by the Borough of Deal to sell a quarter-acre lot to an adjacent property owner for $1 million has drawn objections from the state Department of Environmental Protection and waterfront activists who say the proposal violates rules governing public access to the sand and surf.

 

But the Monmouth County shore community’s top administrator said the sale of the lot will not keep sun bathers, surfers or anglers from going down to the sea. And he insisted the borough was working on a response that would satisfy the DEP, if not the waterfront watchdogs wary of Deal’s waterfront deal-making.

During a Feb. 5 meeting, the borough’s 3-member board of commissioners introduced an ordinance providing for the sale of the lot, which is on the eastern end of Roosevelt Avenue, adjacent to a storm water pump house three blocks from the borough’s northern border with Long Branch. The board, which is led by Mayor Samuel Cohen, could finalize the sale by adopting the measure, Ordinance 1230, during a meeting scheduled for 9 a.m on March 6.

 

Word of the ordinance quickly spread among beach access advocates who had successfully opposed what they insisted were Deal’s violation of the ancient Public Trust Doctrine and state access law, and began alerting each other and state officials of the proposed sale.

 

On Feb. 9, a coalition of beach access advocates including the Surfrider Foundation, the American Littoral Society and the Citizens Right to Access Beaches, or CRAB, wrote to the DEP complaining the sale would violate terms of a $361,000 hazardous mitigation grant and a Coastal Area Facilities Review Act permit awarded by the DEP to Deal in 2015. The grant and CAFRA permit had allowed the borough to shore up the property underlying the pump house following erosion during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

 

The coalition’s Feb. 9 letter, penned by attorney Andrew Chambarry, a Jersey Shore native and former Surfrider official, also cited remarks in a 2016 story on NJ.com quoting a borough official vowing never to sell the property.

 

“This is the second time in two years that the borough has attempted to sell beachfront property to an adjacent homeowner,” Chamberry wrote.

Having already been contacted by activists, the DEP didn’t take long to react to the letter. Hours after receiving it, the agency’s regional supervisor, Michele Kropilak, sent a notice of violation, also dated Feb. 9, to Deal Borough Administrator Stephen Carasia.

 

Kropilak told Carasia the town had failed to meet its obligation to notify the Monmouth County Clerk’s office of the CAFRA permit, which included a guarantee of public beach access at the pump house site. The requirement is intended to ensure that easement is honored in the event the property is transferred.

Carasia told NJ Advance Media in a phone interview Tuesday that the borough would address the issues, then proceed with the sale.

 

Carasia also insisted that public access to the beach would be maintained at the site, with a landscaped path immediately south of the pump house, and referred to a diagram of the access path accompanying the sale ordinance.

 

Chamberry, meanwhile, said he was looking into whether the sale would violate federal law and be blocked permanently.

 

Chambarry told NJ Advance Media that if Deal does go ahead with the sale, the borough should at least reimburse the state for the grant money, which also helped to shore up the parcel being sold.

 

Carasia said the bulk of the sale proceeds would go toward constructing the access path. He said the reimbursement question was being reviewed by Deal’s borough attorney, Paul Fernicola, who also happens to be the mayor of nearby Loch Arbor.

 

If the Roosevelt Avenue case sounds familiar, it may be because in 2019 Deal tried a likewise controversial sale, for the same price and involving a similar piece of borough-owned property.

 

In that case, which was also led by Cohen, commissioners approved the sale of a small parcel at the end of Neptune Avenue, near Deal’s southern border with Allenhurst. The American Littoral Society then filed a lawsuit to block the transaction, citing the lot’s status as a waterfront access point designated by both the borough and the State of New Jersey.

 

But Cohen insisted at the time that the spot was for visual access only, which he said would be maintained, and that the property owner, who had plans to build a house on the adjacent lot, had pledged not to erect any structure on the parcel and to limit plantings on it to a height of two feet high. Cohen also noted that the parcel had been assessed at just $160,000, or 16% of the proposed sale price, and he defended the deal as a win for borough taxpayers. The case is pending.

 

Deal is among a minority of Jersey Shore towns that have no boardwalk or beach-related businesses to speak of, and neither rely on nor try to attract tourists. Deal lacks even an oceanside drive where passing motorists can look out over the beach and the Atlantic.

 

Instead, its shore is lined with mansions fronting on Ocean Avenue with large lots that back onto the beach. The Deal Casino Beach Club occupies a six-block stretch in the middle of Ocean Avenue , between the roadway and the surf. There are several streets perpendicular to the shore, including Roosevelt Avenue, that cross Ocean a few lots in from the beach and then dead-end at the sand.

 

Deal’s median home value of $1.45 million in 2019 was quadruple the statewide median of $344,000, according to DataUSA.com.

 

And while Deal is not the only residential shore community accused of trying to keep out the riff-raff, beach access advocates say the borough has been particularly bold and persistent in its defiance of the ancient Public Trust Doctrine still invoke in modern case law and current state statute governing beach access.

 

Among other examples, in 2015 and 2016 the borough tried to require parking permits on streets near the beach. Those plans were successfully quashed by opponents the Citizens in Opposition to Beach Restrictive Access, or COBRA, who found them particularly galling after the Army Corps of Engineers had just spent $38 million in federal taxpayer funds on a post-Hurricane Sandy beach replenishment project in Monmouth County that included Deal.

 

“It just seems like it never ends in the attempts to restrict access from the public,” Chambarry said. “That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on what’s going on, not only in Deal but up and down the coast.”

 

Deal officials say a landscaped path adjacent to a pump house at the end of Roosevelt Avenue will provide public access to the beach despite the sale of a publicly owned parcel to an adjacent homeowner.Borough of Deal

 

Edited by TimS
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What a shame...fond memories of that spot from a year at Monmouth University 06-07. 
 

he’d pack the surf board and I’d bring my rod. Seemed like we’d always have the place to ourselves.

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Unreal once again by Deal- before sandy was just a bunch of rocks to clime over to get to beach with the creek flowing into the ocean-then the new rock wall was built-creek contained in a pipe out to ocean and now the town wants to sell the public access? I know the stairs for roosevelt ave are just to the North but its ridiculous  to give up any public access- you cant even access beach from whitehall ave anymore, when did that happen? How did that happen  Post sandy

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They bitch about outsiders being there, when they're never there. When was the last time you drove through Deal and actually saw people outside of their homes. The homes are almost always empty during the week and especially during the winter. The only time you see them is on Saturdays walking to temple.

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On 2/23/2021 at 8:49 PM, fdhog said:

They bitch about outsiders being there, when they're never there. When was the last time you drove through Deal and actually saw people outside of their homes. The homes are almost always empty during the week and especially during the winter. The only time you see them is on Saturdays walking to temple.

Vacation mansions of rich bankers. Ghost town off-season. They're not locals themselves. 

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On 2/26/2021 at 4:56 PM, EricM said:

Vacation mansions of rich bankers. Ghost town off-season. They're not locals themselves. 

Mostly Syrian Jews from Brooklyn... More money than God.  Since COVID more and more of them are living in Deal on  regular basis... expect a lot more of this. I know a few of them from one of my side gigs.. Most of them are arrogant and believe that they are better than anyone outside of their tight knit community.  Outside of a fake polite acknowledgement of the service you provided to them, they will totally ignore your presence.   We must be vigilant and pro-active when it comes to beach access anywhere along the Jersey Shore.  But Deal is especially worrisome.. always has been. 

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On 2/26/2021 at 4:56 PM, EricM said:

Vacation mansions of rich bankers. 

Very few in the banking industry

Retail and garment/textiles

 

Edited by Sudsy

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From the COBRA page (Citizens in Opposition to Beach Restrictive Access)
 
The Borough of Deal is still scheduled to vote to sell public beachfront property at the end of Roosevelt Avenue on March 3, 2021. I have been unable to confirm if the Borough has complied with the NJDEP Notice of Violation issued February 9. Therefore, you should assume the Borough has complied and will go forward with the land sale at their meeting at 9:00 AM on March 3. If you oppose the sale of public beachfront property, then feel free to comment and ask written questions about the sale. The public may provide comments via electronic mail or in writing 24 hours prior to the meeting to be read by the Municipal Clerk during the public comment portion of the meeting. These comments can be sent to administrator@dealborough.com, mailed or hand delivered to Borough Hall, 190 Norwood Avenue, Deal, NJ 07723 24 hours prior to the meeting.
 
Those questions/comments could include: (1) Comments and questions about your recent and historic uses of this property, whether that be visual or physical access; (2) Comments and questions regarding the easement the Borough should have recorded with the County Clerk for public access permanently into the future on the south side of the pump house; (3) general comments and questions about the sale of public beachfront property.
 
The Preliminary Agenda will be available on the Borough’s website, www.dealborough.com, 72 hours prior to the start of the meeting. The public may participate during public comment when the Mayor or his designee opens the meeting to the public. The Mayor or his designee will limit public comments to 3 minutes per person.
Edited by Sudsy

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