Avon Wants Auction of Government Property Postponed

 

The federal government wants to auction off this former Coast Guard property at Ocean and East End Avenues in Avon but borough officials want the auction delayed pending further discussion. (U.S. General Services Administration photo)

The federal government wants to auction off this former Coast Guard property at Ocean and East End Avenues in Avon but borough officials want the auction delayed pending further discussion. (U.S. General Services Administration photo)

By PETE WALTON

Avon officials want the federal government to delay an auction of oceanfront property which was previously used to house U.S. Coast Guard personnel.

The building at the corner of Ocean and East End avenues is located in a single-family residential zone, though the Coast Guard was allowed to use it for multi-family housing.

At this week’s Board of Commissioners meeting, Borough Attorney Barry A. Cooke said the multi-family use does not survive a transfer of ownership. The federal government’s advertising of the property describes it as a “three-family residential dwelling” and makes no reference to the fact that it can only be used for a single-family home once it is sold.

“There is some luring people in,” Cooke said of the federal representations.

Initially, the borough researched deeds to see if ownership of the property reverted to Avon should the federal government stop using it. Cooke said that research has resulted in a “dead end.”

The online auction, conducted by the U.S. General Services Administration, is set to begin on June 24 at 9 a.m. An open house is scheduled for June 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We should ask for the land,” said Commissioner Robert Mahon.

When the U.S. Army stopped using nearby Fort Monmouth, its property was divided up among the three surrounding towns. However, Barnegat Township in Ocean County paid the Coast Guard for property it no longer needed.

Borough Administrator Timothy M. Gallagher said he would contact U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th), who has represented Avon in Congress since redistricting in 2013, as well as Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th), the borough’s previous representative, to seek their help in getting the auction delayed so further discussions can take place.

Also at their meeting this week, the commissioners banned the operation of model aircraft, including drones, east of Ocean Avenue from May 1 to Oct. 1.

Mayor John B. Magrini said that the borough needs to implement an e-mail storage system, since state law requires that e-mails regarding borough business be archived along with printed documents. Gallagher said he would consult with Avon’s information technology supplier about a solution.

In other business Magrini said that the borough may want to reconsider expanding the number of commissioners from three to five, an idea which was rejected by voters in 1996.

Currently, a commissioner cannot legally discuss borough business with another commissioner directly outside of a meeting because two members constitute a quorum of the three-member board. Magrini said that if he wants to discuss something with one of his fellow commissioners now, he must go through the borough administrator.

Most New Jersey towns operating under the commission form of government have five-member boards, according to Mahon.

Borough homeowners may receive as much as a 20 percent reduction in flood insurance premiums beginning Oct. 1 as a result of programs undertaken following the 2012 Sandy storm. Avon is one of four Monmouth County towns to receive a rating of 6 in the Community Rating System, which is meant to help keep insurance costs down.

Police Chief Terry Mahon said the borough’s new policy of having an officer on the beachfront to supervise this summer has already resulted in the timely rescue of two swimmers. Patrolman Timothy McGrath pulled the pair to safety when he spotted them in distress more than an hour and a half after beaches had officially closed.

The Avon Historical Society announced the winners of its scholarship award to two seniors at area high schools. Faith Westhoven, a recent graduate of St. Rose High School in Belmar, will attend Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va. Alex Devoy, who graduates next week from Manasquan High School, will be a student at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pa.

Volunteers are needed for the Avon Public Library’s annual Friends of the Library Bookfair July 8 through 10. Book donations will only be accepted after 7 a.m. on Fri., July 8 at the fair’s boardwalk location.

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