OCEAN TOWNSHIP: The Township Council Meeting on December 28 starts at 5:30 p.m. as is shown in the Details section of the township website Calendars. The Workshop is at 5 p.m. and is also a chance for the public to comment on council matters.
The effort for greater transparency is ongoing, as Councilman Rich Long has reminded recent meeting attendees.
Mayor Siciliano sent a Facebook note out this past week announcing that a date has been set for the Paramount LLC developer, who is still in the early stages of the Deal Road / Highway 35 plans, to make a presentation on Jan. 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the high school auditorium. It is an opportunity to bring Ocean Township's public in on the "Concept Level" plans still in development. Changes in the original April presentation at OTHS are in the works, with some changes in reflection of public comments and opinions that have been heard.
While still not a project ready to submit to the town's Board of Adjustment or Planning Board for acceptance or rejection, Paramont LLC. will offer its latest view to allow public awareness.
On Jan. 4, Mr. Maurice Zekaria, an Ocean resident and Paramount principal, will be presenting, as he had in April, in order to give the township an early look and to get public feedback, a step not usually taken. The feedback and resulting changes will be presented and questions allowed from the attendees. This time Zechariah will have technical experts along to help respond to concerns of the public.
Even as these matters are in progress, the township Master Plan is under review, a ten-year obligation required by state order. In that regard, the Ocean Environmental Commission is formulating a project to perform an Environmental Resource Inventory, a study effort shown to be needed in a recent study by Rutgers University which showed a significant loss in the town's Tree Canopy (the area under tree coverage). The study will assess significant natural benefits and potentially may bolster appeals for financial assist in obtaining grants from state and county sources when and if needed.
Current Master Plan work will benefit from the study. The Mayor awaits a proposal by Environmental Commission to be delivered after its Jan. 4 regular meeting. The Shade Tree Commission is involved as well.
To date public concerns have included traffic impacts of development at Deal Road and Highway 35, including Logan Road and potential impact on other nearby, off-highway residential traffic. Also impact on the facet of "Community of Gracious Living", and if in changing conditions may be compromised, and if appearance and values of residential properties will be negatively impacted by the commercial buildings the plan may bring.
Concerns are for environmental impacts, community space and historical property losses, as well as potential safety issues from a gas station plan. There are concerns for impact on other matters such as residential property space loss from the non-residential construction. Change in the residential makeup and character have been expressed.
Some residents appreciated the developer's openness and care with his presenting. Others seem accepting of change and a need for accommodation.
It is not known how much commentary will be accommodated at the Dec. 28 Council meeting at this writing.