By DON STINE
The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association said it is willing to go to court to stop the township from issuing residential parking permits in the historic district, saying such permits would create problems with far-reaching implications.
“The Camp Meeting Association’s Board of Trustees will be reserving the option to pursue legal remedies, if necessary, to protect its property rights and those of its constituents,” said John DiGiamberardino, a resident and executive director of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, at Monday’s Neptune Township Committee meeting.
Some Ocean Grove residents have been pushing the governing body to put a nonbinding referendum about parking permits on a ballot. There has never been permit parking in the historic district, where parking spaces are often hard to find.
“I want to be very clear tonight. I am against any form of permit parking in Ocean Grove. I also speak for the Board of Trustees of the Camp Meeting Association, who discussed this matter at their recent board meeting and expressed their deep concern for permit parking in Ocean Grove,” DiGiamberardino said.
DiGiamberardino said he has “cross involvement” in Ocean Grove, being a resident, a member of the Home Owners Association, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and overseeing the day-to-day operation as executive director of the Camp Meeting Association
He said permit parking would have a huge impact on the” welcoming spirit” of Ocean Grove, on the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, and would negatively affect property values and the struggling business community.
“Such an action would detrimentally impact tourism in general and our many constituents attending worship services, concerts and special events. The beach is a blessing in Ocean Grove. As a seaside community, we rely on the quality, beauty and use of our beach. Reduced beach income could affect our ability to maintain the beach at the highest level. Allowing parking permits would make us an unfriendly, unwelcoming place for visitors,” he said.
“People will come to the community and find open parking spots that they are unable to park in. In addition, can you imagine the hundreds of additional (permit parking) signs cluttering our already visually overloaded, supposedly Victorian streetscape?” he said.
Mayor Michael Brantley said the governing body will take the OGCMA’s stance “into consideration.” He did say that permit parking is off the table for now, especially since the Aug. 18 deadline to put a referendum on the November ballot will not be met.
He also said that the special ad hoc committee looking into improving parking in Ocean Grove did not support permit parking as a viable alternative but that the Township Committee continues to look at options.
Ocean Grove resident Ray DeFaria, who is on the township’s ad hoc parking committee, said that permit parking was never considered a viable option, adding that people purchasing properties in Ocean Grove should already realize there is a parking problem.
Resident Ann Horan said that many trustees on the OGCMA do not even know Ocean Grove’s parking problems since few actually live in the historic district.
After doing some research, DiGiamberardino said that two-thirds of the trustees live in Ocean Grove, either year-round or seasonally.