Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Half a year ago, the first story posted on NJ News & Views reported that a Lakewood developer was building an addition to his office on township land and that the township was doing nothing about it.
Nothing has changed since March.
Developer Raphael (Ralph) Zucker, whose 2-story office/retail building is located at 911 East County Line Road, is still building an addition on the former location of Twin Oaks Drive.
It is nearly completed.
It has been a week since a mayor's advisory committee presented its' recommendations to update Lakewood's Master Plan, but residents still can't read them on the township Web site.
The recommendations were presented at the September 26 meeting of the Lakewood Planning Board.
No public forum was held.
At the end of the meeting, members of the advisory committee and the planning board agreed to post the recommendations as a .PDF document on the Lakewood Township Web site.
As of October 3, the document had still not been posted.
On October 24 at 6 p.m., the planning board will hold a public hearing on the advisory committee's recommendations. That date is now three weeks away instead of one month.
Friday, September 08, 2006
TOMS RIVER BUREAU
LAKEWOOD — Property owners in a largely undeveloped southwest section of the township learned recently that they can build much more on their land than was allowed just a few years ago.
Thus, the phone calls from property owners — some angry, some sensing an opportunity to cash in — have been pouring in all week to the office of Township Committeeman Charles Cunliffe.
"It's been nonstop," said Cunliffe.
Monday, July 31, 2006
NOTE: In Tax Court appeals all 1-4 family properties are defined as “Small-Claims”.
In “small-claims” cases the discovery or “Interrogatories” from the Municipality to the tax-payer are very limited in scope.
Rule 8:6-1 (a) 5 state “shall be limited to
1- inspection of subject premises,
2- a closing statement, if within 3 years of assign date,
3- cost of improvements if within 3 years,
4- income & expense of income producing property”
The Municipality is NOT entitled to anything else without a Court order.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Lakewood stages 55th National Day of Prayer service
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 05/5/06BY RICHARD QUINNTOMS RIVER BUREAU LAKEWOOD — The Rev. Sandra Gonzalez of Spirit-Filled Life Ministries needed only one guest to join her in Town Square on Thursday night.
He showed, so the rest took care of itself.
It didn't matter that a local businessman was disappointed after the mayor learned the law allows prayer warriors to proselytize even if the speakers who propel their words are powered by electricity paid for by taxpayers.
[It didn't matter that the businessman went to the Lakewood police watch commander to complain about the noise, use of Taxpayers electricity, and proselytizing to convert all the Jews.
It didn't matter that the watch commander said it's perfectly allright to procelytize & use Township electricity, "if you don't like it-speak to your Mayor-Meir".
It didn't matter that the service toggled back and forth between English and Spanish, a public sign of respect to the masses of Latino immigrants who have flooded Lakewood in recent years and comprised more than half of the worshippers Thursday night.
It didn't matter that the evangelical service — celebrated so loudly it could be heard several blocks away — drew momentary glares from passers-by who wanted to know what those people were doing.
It didn't matter because He showed up.
"As long as it's me and God," Gonzalez said. "It's not about numbers. It's about your faithfulness and obedience to the call."
The rest was important to her, but without God, it doesn't matter.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
The state may decide this month to release nearly $600,000 in funding for the township's Urban Enterprise Zone.
The funding freeze, in place since an audit earlier this year discovered some irregularities with a program vendor, could be lifted in the next two weeks, said Russell K. Corby, executive director of the Lakewood Development Corp., which oversees the UEZ.
Corby told board members at this week's LDC meeting that he is confident the money will be released."Within a week or two, we should find out whether it will be reimbursed,'' Corby said.
Friday, April 28, 2006
A LOWER TAX RATE BLINDFOLDS THE TAXPAYERS TO THINK THAT THEY WILL PAY LOWER TAXES WHEN THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE.
AN INFLATED PROPERTY VALUE TAX BASE GIVES THE MUNICIPALITY A GREATER BORROWING POWER INCLUDING BOND ISSUES. WITH BOND ISSUES THEY CAN OVER SPEND OVER AND ABOVE THE STATE MANDATED CAP RATE.
THE TAX PAYER ALSO ENDS UP PAYING AN UNJUSTIFIED HIGHER COUNTY TAX BURDEN.
STARTING WITH A LOWER TAX RATE MAKES IT THAT MUCH EASIER TO SPEND MORE AND RAISE TAXES WITH LITTLE ANTICIPATED BACK LASH.
THERE WERE FILED OVER 2000 (TWO THOUSAND) APPEALS. THEREFORE LAKEWOOD'S ANTICIPATED HIGHWAY ROBBERY IS IN JEPORADY.
THE SOLUTION BY THE TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS IS TO HARASS (via inspection Department & other Township offices) ALL OF THOSE WHO FILED APPEALS.
THEY ARE ON WAR FOOTING, EVEN GOING SO FAR AS ADVISING THE REVALUATION FIRM NOT TO SIT WITH ANY AGGRIEVED PROPERTY OWNER TO SEE IF A FAIR RESOLUTION IS POSSIBLE (which is the accepted practice at every revalution across the State).
LAKEWOOD — A tax revaluation and a series of tax appeals make it difficult to put this year's municipal budget in context.
Still, nine days after the Board of Education spending plan was trounced at the polls, the Township Committee Thursday unveiled its 2006 municipal budget.
A public hearing will be held next month.
"We are having a tax increase," Mayor Meir Lichtenstein said before the meeting. "It's really hard to figure out."
News of higher taxes is all Malcolm Smith needed to hear.
"That's not exactly pleasing," said Smith, who owns several properties along Route 88.
Yehuda Shain, a Forest Avenue resident, said individuals will pay more under the new budget, a disturbing trend of rising taxes over the past two years.
"It's definitely going to go up," Shain said.
Township Manager Frank Edwards introduced the budget by announcing that it would spend $59,967,650. Lichtenstein said the tax levy is about $31 million.
Edwards also said the tax rate is expected to be 41.2 cents per $100 of assessed property value. On a house assessed at $291,617, the township average, that would be a municipal tax bill of $1,201.
The low rate is deceiving, though.
Lakewood underwent a property revaluation last year. The township's ratable base jumped from $2.9 billion to $7.5 billion, according to tax records. The revaluation makes year-to-year tax comparisons difficult.
"Are we going to spend more than last year?" Lichtenstein asked prior to the meeting. "Yes. But is it more taxes than last year? We don't know. We have to wait for everything to shake out."
The lack of solid budget information is believed to be one reason the $108 million school budget was defeated by voters. Residents, however, do not get to vote on the municipal budget.
They can speak at a public hearing on the budget, scheduled for May 25. The budget will likely be adopted that night.
Further complicating this year's budget process is a slew of tax appeals filed following the revaluation. Lichtenstein said there were more than 100 appeals, and the final budget may change when they are resolved.
Committee members did not comment on the budget when it was introduced. Committeeman Charles Cunliffe did ask that a budget summary be posted on the township Web site as quickly as possible.
Committeeman Robert W. Singer voted against the budget, although he did not say why.
Lichtenstein cautioned residents not to get too upset at the budget until more details are resolved before the May 25 public hearing. Right now, he said, there are still questions about taxes he can't answer.
"We don't know," the mayor added. "We're so in limbo."
Thursday, March 09, 2006
At least some of the Members on Lakewood's Master Plan Committee are wheelers in the Real Estate market and therefore should raise a red flag as it would have the look of the possibility of "insider trading".
I don't know the resume or affiliations of many on the list nonetheless some names struck me.
Adam Buckwald I think is in construction & deals in Real Estate, Mitch Dolobowsky works for Ralph Zucker Somerset Development, There also listed an owner of an Engineering firm that is listed as an owner or partner in a number of Real Estate properties, A few Attorneys that are involved heavily with developers are listed, Ben Heineman, Aaron Kotler, Moshe Weisberg, all Vaad members, Bruce Stern Atty with Madison Title, Elliot Zaks a Real Estate dealer, Ralph Zucker of Somerset Devolpment, Charles Silberberg A real estate owner & developer, and Committeeman Charles Cunliffe asked that he forgot to include Meier Hertz a wheeler in Real Estate.
I think that a requirement should be all to fill out a form that would list all of their affiliations and if there "may-be" a conflict of interest, otherwise it doesn't sit right.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
The Lakewood Civillian Police Review Board has been coming up over the past few years, but never implemented "yet" WHY NOT?
Every time there is a public incident re police brutality there is an outcry of the need of a Civillian Police Review Board.
There are countless episodes in Lakewood that were not publicized that would have been better served with a Civillian Police review board.
Most all of the complaints filed with the Police Internal Affairs gets buried under the carpet, to the point that no one even bothers to file complaints with the Lakewood Police Internal Afairs.
The VAAD is attempting to cover up on the desperate need of a Civillian Police Reviw Board by making a public forum with the Police Director "to voice any problems you have with the Lakewood Police" WHAT A SHAM!!"
If any one intends to fall for it & attend the Public Forum, you should ask over and over ONE QUESTION ONLY!WHEN ARE WE GOING TO HAVE A CIVILLIAN POLICE REVIEW BOARD," NOT IF-BUT WHEN."
Monday, February 27, 2006
Feb 27, 2:00 PM (ET)By MARTIN CRUTSINGER
(AP) Chart shows new-home sales for the past 13 months, seasonally adjusted.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The backlog of unsold new homes reached a record level last month, as sales slipped despite the warmest January in more than 100 years.
The Commerce Department reported Monday that sales of new single-family homes dropped by 5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.233 million units last month.
That was the slowest pace since January 2005 and left the number of unsold homes at a record high of 528,000.
Analysts viewed the new data as further evidence that the nation's red-hot housing market, which hit record sales levels for five straight years, has definitely started to cool.
(AP) In a file photo signs point the way to new homes for sale in the west hills of Portland, Ore.,..."The decline in new home sales in January makes it clear that there is some real softening in the housing market, said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors.
The 5 percent decline was bigger than expected, dashing hopes that the milder-than-normal January would help to bolster demand. The warm weather had pushed up the level of construction starts last month by 14.5 percent, the fastest rate in three decades.
But the new report showed that with sales lagging, the increase in building activity left a total of 528,000 new homes still for sale at the end of the month, a nine-year high.
Even with the softening in sales, prices were up in January with the median price climbing to $238,100, up 4 percent from December, but below the all-time high of $243,900 set in October.
For the past few years, home prices have been surging at double-digit rates, gains that analysts said will likely slow now that sales are softening and inventories of unsold-homes are rising.
(AP) Chart shows the Index of Leading Economic Indicators seasonally adjusted, for the past 13 months....Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, predicted "real downward pressure on prices over the next few months."
David Seiders, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, said surveys showed that the number of builders who are throwing in various amenities for free in order to move homes has risen to 41 percent.
Seiders predicted that home price gains, which were running around 12 percent last year, will slow to about 6 percent this year.
He said a lot of this year's change will reflect less speculative investor activity and more sales spurred by people desiring to live in the homes. "Hopefully, that is all that is developing here," Seiders said.
Some economists are worried that with the inventory of unsold homes rising, there could be significant downward pressure on home prices, triggering a chain-reaction similar to the bursting of the stock market bubble in 2000, a development that contributed to the 2001 recession.
(AP) Chart shows Producer Price Index for the past 18 months. But new Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress earlier this month that for now he was looking for a moderate slowdown in the housing industry, not a crash.
The 5 percent January drop in sales followed a revised 3.8 percent increase in December and was the biggest setback since a 7 percent drop in November.
The biggest decline in sales was a 14.9 percent decrease in sales in the Northeast, which followed an even bigger 23 percent plunge in sales in December. Sales in the Midwest were down 10.8 percent after having risen by 21.2 percent in December.
In the South, sales fell by 10.3 percent in January, following a 1.2 percent gain in December.
Bucking the national trend, sales in the West posted an 11.3 percent increase in January after a 6.3 percent gain in December.
Mortgage rates have been rising gradually with the 30-year mortgage now at 6.26 percent, according to the latest Freddie Mac (FRE) survey. Many analysts believe 30-year mortgages will rise to between 6.5 percent to 7 percent by the end of this year.
They think that increase will be enough to trim sales of both new and existing homes and slow the double-digit gains in prices seen in recent years. The National Association of Realtors reported earlier this month that a record 72 metropolitan areas saw double-digit gains in home prices in the final three months of 2005 compared with price levels at the end of 2004.
New home sales: http://www.census.gov/newhomesales
Friday, February 24, 2006
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Mayor Meir Lichtenstein, in his first extensive public comments since taking over the township's top post, has announced a platform of initiatives for 2006.
Lichtenstein, in an hour-long interview at his municipal building office this week, said his first priority is to find an amicable solution to the day laborer quandary downtown.A property manager who understands when merchants complain how the men -- many of whom are illegal immigrants -- deter business, Lichtenstein said the township must also find a way to treat the men with dignity and respect.
Other initiatives for the year include:Instilling more public confidence in the township's embattled police department, which has weathered several allegations of police brutality in the past few years.
Working with the Board of Education to lobby state officials to increase education funding to Lakewood. The funding inequity hurts taxpayers, Lichtenstein said, adding the township may be able to help the district attain more funding.
Holding meetings of township department heads so employees can better work together to address residents complaints. The first of these meetings already has been held.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Some claim that there is back door talk about a 100 year lease for commercial devolpment. There was no public bids or anything of the sort.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
WHAT'S THE ISSUE? Snow plowing. A resident complained at last week's Township Committee meeting that the Public Works Department could do a better job plowing streets after winter storms. Officials defended the township, citing the difficulties of snow removal and the housing boom in Lakewood over the past decade that has added to the department's workload.
WHAT DOES THE TOWN SAY? John Franklin, Lakewood's public works director, said his workers do as much as they can to plow every street quickly. The township, though, has to focus first on main thoroughfares — such as Clifton Avenue, Pine Street and portions of Squankum Road — to clear the downtown and help traffic move."Nobody is ever happy when there's snow on the ground," Franklin said.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Committeeman Charles Cunliffe said residents could help themselves by removing vehicles, garbage cans and other obstacles from the street so plows can go "curb to curb." When residents leave obstacles, plows can not clear the entire street."There are streets you can clean up real well," Cunliffe said. "There are some streets you cannot.
"WHAT'S NEXT? Although this winter has been light on snow to date, Mayor Meir Lichtenstein commended Franklin for the job he does in keeping up with snowstorms, even as new housing developments continually add new streets each year."The town is growing very quickly," Lichtenstein said. "John is doing his best to keep up.
End of APP article:
Yehuda Shain's take on the snow removal:
Lakewood's snow removal system is picture perfect "in the summer".They love to get it down to the blacktop of the pavement, as long as it is on a time & half or double pay weekend day.I have observed Lakewood plows with the blade up going over streets that need plowing etc.I have also observed the Lakewood plows just last Sunday's snow after the sun prety much melted down they tried to scrape the living daylights out of the pavement.Don't complain, they have it down to the dollar exactly hom much it cost lakewwod per mile to clean the snow.
Why the Lakewood Public Works is constantly in need of NEW equipment, is mind bongling. How much mileage is put on to their equipment when it's used only locally? Sure, New equipment is beautiful impresive, but we are talking about tax-payer's dollars.
While we are on tax payer's dollars, why doesn't the Police department have the Public Works or their own set up for repairs & maintence of the Police vehicles and other Township vehicles. I don't know the exact count.
It's all too common to see 2-3 police cars parked along side each other in a parking lot for a half hour or more. Any reason they can't be patrolling the different crime areas of the Township?
Any reason that they can't be out checking for the many street lights that are not working thereby causing a safety hazard. In the agreement that Lakewood Township has with the Utility Company, it is the RESPONSIBILITY of Lakewood Police to report the light outages.
Mind you All of Lakewood Police cars have GPS units, it must be that nobody is checking them on a constant basis. "IS THE NEW COMPUTER GOING TO HELP?"
There are wrongfully issued summonses by the police for different violations e.g. parking tickets when the sign posted & the Lakewood Ordinance permit it. "WILL THE NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM SOLVE THAT?"
Summonses are issued for hitchhiking, when the pedestrian is in fact NOT hitchhiking and is also in full compliance of the applicable NJ Statute. IS THE NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM GOING TO SOLVE THAT ONE?
Summonses issued for parking too close to a fire hydrant, I produced a tape measure to the Officer while he is writing the summons, that the vehicle is parked 100% legally, "I'm sorry I already wrote the ticket". It took 4 trips to the Court (over 7 hours waisted) to resolve the issue, there was no dismissal of the officer even though he issued a citation even though he KNEW it was FALSE! WOULD THE NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM SOLVE THAT?
There are many more of these type of episodes which we'll leave for another date.
Let's have a Police Civillian Review Board, perhaps that will change something, at least it will make the Citizens feel that it doesn't get shoved under the carpet.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
AND TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Singer, Coles, Cunliffe & Miller
January 24, 2006
Dear Mayor & Township Committeemen;
I would like to bring to your attention a few items that I was going to address at the January 19th Township meeting, but I gave away my 4 minute slot for an issue that I felt should take precedence-Sorry that others didn’t sense the urgency.
At the County Building (& perhaps at other similar situations) the Handicap spots should be marked “Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM”. (during business hours)
1- Muster Zone- I think that the contractors who are looking for the “day-laborers” come from 5:30 AM to 9:00 AM. That time frame shouldn’t disturb the downtown businesses. Perhaps the parking lot on the south side of Main St between Clifton & Madison Ave can be utilized. I understand that the owner of that lot may agree for that limited use 5:30-9:00AM. I think that Mr. Golub’s points were as important as the individual from Freehold, NJ whom you did ask for his phone number in order to further discuss his ideas about a muster zone.
2- By making a “No Stopping” on Clifton Ave you are penalizing the Business owners and their patrons as well. If we have a problem with the Day-laborers don’t penalize everyone else instead.
3- We have a problem of immigrants in some parts of town, so we hire inspectors to go after “some” property owners who have broken twigs, etc., under the guise of “Quality of life”.
4- We have a big parking problem in many areas of town, so it was suggested (over a year ago) that for safety, quality of life & additional parking spaces we should have 5th Street through 9th Street, from Forest Avenue to Lakewood Avenue designated as 1 way streets, plus to widen 9th Street and make angle parking-So what did the Township fathers do? THEY BANNED ALL PARKING ON THE NORTH SIDE OF 9TH STREET AND DID NOT INSTITUTE THE 1 WAY STREETS!!!???????????
5- We have been requesting (for over a year) the Township to upgrade safety and quality of life issues and it is literally at a standstill. One item is the street lamps that are not working, YES THAT IS a SAFETY HAZARD AND a QUALITY OF LIFE ISSUE more important than many of the other “so-called” quality of life issues. Mind you these items are the obligation of your Municipal departments. The police Department is supposed to check on the outages and report them to JCP&L and to the Township Manager. The Township Manager should wait 30 days and deduct the cost of the outages till he is notified that the street lights are repaired.
6- The other Safety and quality of life issue is “the STOP / YIELD SIGNS” that aren’t in compliance with NJDOT (New Jersey Dept. of Transportation) nor with Federal MUTCD (Manual for uniform traffic control devices). The Township is aware of this for over a year that I have written to them & brought it up at public meetings to no avail. What justification is there to write on police reports or to issue summonses for violating a STOP-SIGN when legally there isn’t one in compliance. Can you justify taking, or rather, stealing money from those drivers and causing their insurance premiums to increase?
7- Another issue which is a safety and quality of life issue is the lack of the proper placement of the “NO TURN ON RED” which should be placed near the light itself. The signs must be of reflective material or illuminated.(PER NJDOT & MUTCD)
8- It is about time we have an independent Civilian Police review board. We have had too many issues over the years that the current ineffective Police internal affairs doesn’t handle properly. Besides the numerous cases where the witnesses weren’t even interviewed, police officers writing reports with facts that aren’t correct, issuing summonses based upon false information etc., and Police internal affairs doesn’t deal with the issues in an acceptable manner. A new computer system etc is not going to help the Internal Affairs unit in the slightest. We must look at setting up a civilian Police review board sooner rather than later.
9- I think that a number of traffic lights can be made to operate as a flashing light during the hours of 1:00AM to 5:30AM.
I don’t think we need these newly hired personnel for the “so-called” quality of life issues, and there is plenty of fat to be cut out of the budget to lower some of the tax burden.
The new revaluation should be put into effect for 2007 instead of 2006; it will alleviate many of the problems that we have to face otherwise.
I have doubts as to what are the real goals that the Town fathers are trying to institute. I don’t think they are consistent in quality of life issues, safety issues, parking problems & their solutions, immigrants, etc.
I have made a Web-site where I will post items of concern to Lakewood residents to keep abreast and to comment and you’ll be able to keep abreast also http://www.voiceoflakewood.blogspot.com/
Friday, January 20, 2006
New leader hopes to phase in changes
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 01/20/06BY RICHARD QUINNTOMS RIVER BUREAU
LAKEWOOD — A police report shows five patrol cars pulled up to the basketball court next to the Lakewood Community Center one Saturday night in June, all responding to a single call about a clash of boys wanting to play basketball.
The incident sparked tensions — which turned into accusations of ethnic favoritism — because the cops asked a group of minority boys to leave after a group of Orthodox Jewish boys showed they had a permit for the court.
Peters said the police overreaction could have been avoided, and now he's proposing a way to do it.
Having assumed the department's top post last summer, Peters has introduced a series of physical and technological changes to the department. The total cost could be more than $1 million but could be phased in.
Updating a host of software programs, including dispatch, records management, officer accountability and Internal Affairs.
Which ideas are implemented and when may depend on a consultant's report, expected around month's end, that will give the department a strategic plan for technology upgrades.
"Bottom line here is to take the department up to the level of best practices," Peters said. "I don't do anything halfway. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it all the way."
Peters said he also hopes the initiatives will prove to an often skeptical public — which in recent years has witnessed a police brutality trial that ended with acquittals, abuse-of-power allegations and a recent investigation into ticket-fixing that found no criminal wrongdoing — that the department is working to better itself.
"I would hope that's how they see it," Peters said this week. "We're using every means available to us to address the concerns."
Taxes are a concern
Word of the new ideas drew cautious praise from residents.
"If it will help, good. The only thing I am afraid of is: Will it cost the taxpayer more money?" asked Adrienne Neal, 44, a recreation aide at Lakewood Community Center. "We have enough problems with property taxes."
Sam DeCapua, a township resident who repairs and installs telecommunications equipment, said he also worries about taxes but supports using updated technology to help the department better protect the town.
"Take back the town from the thugs," said DeCapua, 42, who would support the improvements if they could be paid for without local tax money. "At least they're showing they want to get something done."
Peters said it's too early to know how the plans would be funded. He said he will seek grants, possibly from Homeland Security programs, to offset the costs.
Deputy Mayor Raymond G. Coles said the ambitious plans are the kinds of reform the committee expected when it hired Peters, a retired State Police major who told Coles the technology will help determine proper staffing levels.
"When he tells me I need to look at things, study it and make evaluations, I believe the result of that is something we can take to the bank," Coles said.
"Reverse 911" system
The results, if Peters implements all of his plans, should improve the force.
The new dispatch and records systems, for example, would allow Peters to study how different officers respond to nearly identical calls.
The new Internal Affairs software would make it easier for supervisors to determine if certain officers have more problems than others, although resident Yehuda Shain continues to push for a civilian review board to handle internal investigations.
"(Civilians) know how to look at a case," Shain said, adding he has no confidence in the department objectively investigating its own officers. "They can look at the issue without any cover-up and say, "Who was wrong on this case?' "
A new "Reverse 911" system — which already has been approved and will be installed in the next six months — will be able to notify residents of emergencies and other events.
Lt. William Addison, a 34-year officer in Lakewood, said the new ideas, if implemented, would mark a return to prominence for Lakewood, which he said was once respected for its use of technology.
"We've lost that over the years, for whatever reason," Addison said. "We're getting back to that now. We're going to be No. 1 again."
Richard Quinn: (732) 557-5739 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
AND TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Singer, Coles, Cunliffe & Miller
January 16th, 2006
RE: Lakewood’s Real Estate Revaluation.
Dear Mayor & Committee members,
There are numerous errors in the methods and conclusions of the Realty Appraisal that was done for Lakewood Township properties.
They were not familiar enough with the current zoning ordinance which resulted in wrong valuations to be placed on properties, some too high and others too low.
They were also unaware of the different markets in Lakewood Township even within the same condominium development which resulted in wrong assessments to be placed.
They were not sufficiently in tune to the current market conditions which was on the way down at the time of the revaluation’s effective date of I believe October 1st, 2005.
It would be shameful after all of the dollars spent & we still don’t have affair nor correct revaluation of the Lakewood properties.
Very likely this may result in a very large number of appeals to be filed which may put a question mark on the validity of the revaluation.
May I suggest that the Revaluation should be put into effect for the year 2007, and during the course of 2006 we “tweak” those properties that need adjustments. We may have to bring in another appraiser to work along with the reval Co. & the Assessor to tweak those numbers.
Note: This has been done in other Municipalities e.g. Rutherford among others.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
AND TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Singer, Coles, Cunliffe & Miller
January 9, 2006
RE: Sign placement conformance & light signals.
Dear Mayor & Committee members,
Please be advised as I have previously written & stated publicly that some of the signs & lights are not in conformance with the MUTCD & NJDOT regulations.
All of the Stop & Yield in residential & commercial areas must be a minimum of 7 feet to the bottom of the sign.
In rural areas it must be a minimum of 5 feet to the bottom of the sign, unless there is pedestrian traffic then it must be 7 feet to the bottom of the sign.
The above was brought to the Township’s attention over a year ago and until that time that all of the signs are brought into compliance there shouldn’t be enforcement of something that doesn’t comply with the relevant regulations.
Please notify the proper authorities in the Police Department & the Municipal Court that we shouldn’t be enforcing these signs that aren’t in compliance.
The “NO TURN ON RED” is to be “installed near the appropriate signal head”.
Please have the Municipal signs placed in their correct position, and notify the County & State to place their “No turn on red” installed near the signal head.
The required time interval for a yellow is from 3-6 seconds according to the MUTCD which was adopted by the NJDOT. The 3 second interval would be for the slower range of speeds 25-35 MPH and the longer interval up to 6 seconds would be for the higher speeds of 55-65 MPH.
Some of the yellow lights are set too short (less than 3 seconds) which is a dangerous situation & summonses are issued which shouldn’t be issued.
The other Traffic & safety issue that is long in waiting is making the streets from 6th Street to 9th Street between Forest Ave & Lakewood Ave into one-way streets, which would alleviate congestion, increase safety & Parking.
Monday, January 16, 2006
We would like to see Lakewood pass the following Ordinance:
LAKEWOOD -PUBLIC CONTRACTING REFORM
Be It Enacted by the Lakewood Township, County of Ocean, State of New Jersey:
Whereas, professional business entities are exempt from public bidding requirements, and
Whereas, it has become common for professional business entities to make substantial political contributions to the election campaigns of the local government elected officers who are ultimately responsible for awarding professional service contracts or other contracts or agreements which are not subject to public bidding; and
Whereas, substantial local political contributions from professionals receiving discretionary contracts from the elected officials who receive such contributions raise reasonable concerns of the part of taxpayers as to their trust in the process of local government, if not the quality or cost of services received, and
Whereas, pursuant to NJSA 40A: 11-5 and NJSA 40:48-2, municipalities have the right to establish rules and procedures for contracting with professional business entities,
Now therefore, be it resolved, that the policy of Lakewood Township will be to set maximum amounts professional business entities may contribute politically beyond which they become ineligible to receive a public professional service contract from Lakewood Township.
Prohibition on Awarding Public Contracts to Certain Contributors
(a) Any other provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the municipality or any of its purchasing agents or agencies or those of its independent authorities, as the case may be, shall not enter into an agreement or otherwise contract to procure services, including banking services/relationships or insurance coverage services, from any professional business entity, if that entity has solicited or made any contribution of money, or pledge of a contribution, including in-kind contributions, to a campaign committee of any Lakewood Township candidate or holder of the public office having ultimate responsibility for the award of the contract, or to any Lakewood township or Ocean County party committee, or to any political action committee (PAC) that is organized for the primary purpose of promoting or supporting Lakewood Township municipal candidates or municipal officeholders in excess of the thresholds specified in subsection (d) within one calendar year immediately preceding the date of the contract or agreement.
(b) No professional business entity which enters into negotiations for, or agrees to, any contract or agreement with the municipality or any department or agency thereof or of its independent authorities for the rendition of professional, banking or insurance coverage services or any other no-bid consultants shall knowingly solicit or make any contribution of money, or pledge of a contribution, including in-kind contributions, to any Lakewood Township candidate or holder of the public office having ultimate responsibility for the award of the contract, or to any Lakewood Township or Ocean County party committee, or to any PAC that is organized for the primary purpose of promoting or supporting Lakewood Township municipal candidates or municipal officeholders between the time of first communications between that business entity and the Township regarding a specific professional services agreement and the later of the termination of negotiations or the completion of the contract or agreement.
(c) For purposes of this ordinance, a “professional business entity” seeking a public contract means an individual including the individual's spouse, if any, and any child living at home; person; firm; corporation; professional corporation; partnership; organization; or association. The definition of a business entity includes all principals who own 10% or more of the equity in the corporation or business trust, partners, and officers in the aggregate employed by the entity as well as any subsidiaries directly controlled by the business entity.
(d) Any individual meeting the definition of “professional business entity” under this section may annually contribute a maximum of $400 each for any purpose to any candidate, for mayor or council, or $500 to the Lakewood Township or Ocean County party committee, or to a PAC referenced in this ordinance, without violating subsection (a) of this section. However, any group of individuals meeting the definition of “professional business entity” under this section, including such principals, partners, and officers of the entity in the aggregate, may not annually contribute for any purpose in excess of $1,500 to all Lakewood Township candidates and officeholders with ultimate responsibility for the award of the contract, and all Lakewood Township or Ocean County political parties and PACs referenced in this ordinance combined, without violating subsection (a) of this section.
(e) For purposes of this section, the office that is considered to have ultimate responsibility for the award of the contract shall be:
(1) The Lakewood Township Council, if the contract requires approval or appropriation from the Council.
(2) The Mayor of Lakewood Township, if the contract requires approval of the Mayor, or if a public officer who is responsible for the award of a contract is appointed by the Mayor.
Contributions Made Prior to the Effective Date
No contribution of money or any other thing of value, including in-kind contributions, made by a professional business entity to any municipal candidate for Mayor or Council, or municipal or county party committee or PAC referenced in this ordinance shall be deemed a violation of this section, nor shall an agreement for property, goods, or services, of any kind whatsoever, be disqualified thereby, if that contribution was made by the professional business entity prior to the effective date of this section.
Contribution Statement by Professional Business Entity
(a) Prior to awarding any contract or agreement to procure services, including banking or insurance coverage services, with any professional business entity, the township or any of its purchasing agents or agencies, as the case may be, shall receive a sworn statement from the professional business entity made under penalty of perjury that the bidder or offer or has not made a contribution in violation of Section 1 of this Act;
(b) The professional business entity shall have a continuing duty to report any violations of this Act that may occur during the negotiation or duration of a contract. The certification required under this subsection shall be made prior to entry into the contract or agreement with the township and shall be in addition to any other certifications that may be required by any other provision of law.
Return of Excess Contributions
A professional business entity or township candidate or officeholder or municipal or county party committee or PAC referenced in this ordinance may cure a violation of Section 1 of this Act, if, within 30 days after the general election, the professional business entity notifies the Township Council in writing and seeks and receives reimbursement of a contribution from the township candidate or municipal or county political party or PAC referenced in this ordinance.
(a) All Lakewood Township professional service agreements shall provide that it shall be a breach of the terms of the government contract for a professional business entity as defined in Section 1 (c) to violate section 1 (b) or to knowingly conceal or misrepresent contributions given or received, or to make or solicit contributions through intermediaries for the purpose of concealing or misrepresenting the source of the contribution.
(b) Any professional business entity as defined in Section 1(c) and (d) who knowingly fails to reveal a contribution made in violation of this Act, or who knowingly makes or solicits contributions through intermediaries for the purpose of concealing or misrepresenting the source of the contribution, shall be disqualified from eligibility for future Lakewood Township contracts for a period of four calendar years from the date of the violation.
If any provision of this law, or the application of any such provision to any person or circumstances, shall be held invalid, the remainder of this law to the extent it can be given effect, or the application of such provision to persons or circumstances other than those to which it is held invalid, shall not be affected thereby, and to this extent the provisions of this law are severable.
This Act shall take effect on January 1, 2006.