Traders Cove from the Developer’s Point of View

Paramount Homes, the would-be developer of Traders Cove, has responded to SBB’s May 30 op-ed in the Asbury Park Press.
Read it in full, and then read it with SBB’s commentary. Read about the developer’s Other method of expressing his opinion.

The President of Paramount Home recently responded to the May 30, 2003 op-ed piece in the Asbury Park Press written by Willie deCamp concerning the proposed development at Traders Cove in Brick Township.

You may read Parmount’s op-ed in its uninterrupted form in the Asbury Park Press. (After clicking the link, scroll all the way to the bottom.)

Below are all of the paragraphs of the Paramount piece interspersed with italicized and underlined comment by Mr. deCamp of Save Barnegat Bay.

You be the judge …

********************************

Trader’s Cove plans are in keeping with smart growth concept

As the owner and potential developer of the Trader’s Cover property in Brick, I must take issue with the grossly inaccurate and misleading op-ed article on May 30 by William deCamp Jr.

The most glaring inaccuracy is DeCamp’s claim that Barnegat Bay has been designated a “Category 1” water body. This is blatantly false and DeCamp, as an avid no-growth environmentalist, should know that. He uses this incorrect information to argue that DEP should deny the Coastal Area Facility Review Act permit for this site. What he fails to recognize are the immediate and lasting benefits of this proposed development.

[SBB’s reply] According to both our attorney and a water quality expert retained by our organization, Barnegat Bay is indeed a “Category 1” water body. Those familiar with New Jersey’s administrative code may verify this by going to NJAC 7:9E. This Category 1 status has been corroborated by Dr. Steven Souza, Ph.D., an experienced water quality expert and principal of Princeton Hydro, LLC, in a report written for Save Barnegat Bay dated March 22, 1999. Dr. Souza has taught courses at Rutgers on stormwater management, possibly to consultants for Paramount Homes.

Everyone agrees that the current Trader’s Cover Marina is an environmentally uncontrolled boat yard that is in dire need of redevelopment. The proposed 62 dwelling units, restaurant, and upgrading of the marina will transform this blighted area of Brick into an attractive, desirable community and a viable tax ratable. DeCamp would have people believe that this is an “excessively dense” development. What he fails to mention is that the original proposal for Trader’s Cove contained almost three times the number of units now planned. The current proposal minimizes impervious coverage to only 30 percent.

[SBB’s reply] This boatyard is “blighted” because Brick Township’s political leaders, who have been pushing for this intensive development, have refrained from code enforcement. There are numerous common sense ways to clean up the boatyard without granting a use variance for intense development and luxury homes. Examples: Code enforcement. Approval of a conforming use. Creation of a park… As to the “original”, i.e., 1985 proposal that SBB fought to a standstill, it is faint praise indeed to tout today’s proposal as being less egregious than that of 1985.. The supposed 30% impervious coverage of the current proposal is a matter that SBB’s professionals strongly dispute.

Most importantly, the proposed Trader’s Cover development will cause a net environmental improvement. The existing marina will be upgraded and any soil contamination remediated or capped. Also, stormwater runoff now flows into Barnegat Bay with no water quality controls. State-of-the-art water quality controls are proposed for the development, which will result in less of an impact on water quality and shellfish than currently exists.

[SBB’s reply] We doubt that all of the activity generated by 62 luxury homes, a restaurant and a more active marina will cause less environmental disturbance than the existing underutilized boatyard. Any number of more people-friendly and nature-friendly solutions can also clean up the site. Paramount’s proposal is highly dense, and therefore more polluting than alternative uses. The “state-of-the-art water quality controls” offered by the developer may or may not meet the weakened standards promulgated by the pro-development Whitman administration. In our opinion they are inadequate, and our experts will demonstrate this to the DEP.

Paramount Properties is committed to “smart growth redevelopment.” We have been actively involved in Urban Redevelopment in Camden for six years, and we are now in the process of submitting plans for Asbury Park’s waterfront redevelopment. This proposal is a perfect example of Brownfields redevelopment. We are taking a downgraded site and upgrading it through private investment dollars.

[SBB’s reply] It is a sorry commentary on the state of the coast that the urban concept of “brownfields” is now being introduced to rationalize intensive development in our once rural and presently suburban area… Traders Cove is a waterfront tract immediately adjacent to a federal National Wildlife Refuge. The needs of the surrounding land are for low intensity, not high intensity development – as the existing zoning recognizes. Moreover, granting a variance to this site will inevitably open the floodgates for variances at neighboring Winters Marina, Beaton Boatyard and elsewhere – which is a highly negative environmental impact – although it may admittedly redound to the benefit of those few wealthy families who can afford the luxury homes that will be built.

DeCamp’s suggestion that the county should purchase Trader’s Cove as a park is much too simplistic and impractical. In order to turn Trader’s Cover into a park, the county would have to expend taxpayer’s money, first to clean up the site, then to develop the park and ultimately, to maintain it in perpetuity. Such a situation would be most unfortunate — during a time of stringent budgets and escalating taxes — especially when a private developer is willing to absorb 100 percent of the costs. Open Space purchase dollars should be used for their intent: to purchase beautiful, pristine forested land in order to preclude its development. This decrepit boat yard doesn’t come close to qualifying.

[SBB’s reply] The key word here is “perpetuity”. Shouldn’t we be working for a waterfront that is friendly to nature and accessable to people for the coming ages? Or shall we buy into the developer’s vision of a waterfront that is forever the playground of the few?… Government can always find money in proportion to our leaders’ perception of the urgency of a problem. This situation cries out for visionary leadership, not special exceptions made to developers with politically connected attorneys.

DeCamp downplays the increased ratables to Brick by generalizing about the impact of development on taxes. In this case, however, the 62 units will undoubtedly not be occupied by families with young children and therefore, the impact on the local school system, for which most property taxes are appropriated, will be negligible.

[SBB’s reply] The conjecture by proponents of this high density development that few or no children would move into this facility may or may not be correct. One must still consider, however, the other economic consequences that would follow: the need for garbage removal, the need for fire protection, the need for police protection, the need for emergency medical services, the need for snow removal – and the need for all these services at the other sites that will require them once they too receive variances… The advantage of this intensive development to today’s elected officials is that tomorrow’s elected officials will be the ones who have to face its economic consequences… There is an expression used to describe all this in more progressive parts of our state: “the ratables chase”.

DeCamp attacks the use variance granted by the Brick Township Board of Adjustment. We believe that the board was furnished with compelling reasons on which to base its approval. Undoubtedly, DeCamp and his group will appeal that approval and the courts will determine its validity. To accuse the board of making a political decision does a disservice to the citizens who comprise the Board of Adjustment and who listened intently to the evidence presented both on behalf of my company and on behalf of DeCamp and his group.

[SBB’s reply] In fairness, at least some of the members of the Board of Adjustment did listen intently to the evidence presented. And one did indeed vote against granting the use variance… On the basis of almost two decades of experience, however, I can say that I have attended only a few hearings in which the conduct of the attorney advising a Board was as vituperative toward objectors as that of Board Attorney Steve Secare in this case. I know that I am not alone in this assessment.

DeCamp cannot point to any development within the Barnegat Bay area, its benefits notwithstanding, that he or his group has supported in the least. Rather, they espouse the no-growth philosophy that unfortunately is at the root of most environmentally-based opposition to development in New Jersey.

[SBB’s reply] Save Barnegat Bay tries to look at the big picture. How many more large developments does Ocean County need to improve the health of the environment or the quality of life of its citizens? It is false to say that Save Barnegat Bay is “no growth”: You may look at the Record – we have opposed large intensive developments throughout Ocean County, not single family development and infill – and you also may read our Mission Statement to confirm this.

The Trader’s Cove redevelopment is responsible smart growth and is consistent with the governor’s goal to redevelop degraded, underutilized sites in the state. Would the residents of Brick prefer the current, depleted condition of the site or a beautiful, restored marina, upscale restaurant and 62 luxury townhome units? I believe the answer to that is resoundingly self-evident and I am committed to develop this site in an environmentally sound manner.

[SBB’s reply] ”Smart Growth” should be mindful of the impacts on nature and people. The proposed Traders Cove development is vastly inferior to realistic alternatives in relation to runoff, public access, impacts on nature, and impacts on traffic. The proposal is in these ways inferior to simple code enforcement on the existing use.

I have previously invited DeCamp and his group to provide input to this process. However, their only response has been to unconditionally opposition. I hope that he and his group will see the light and join me in facilitating the redevelopment of the Trader’s Cove site, much to the benefit of Brick residents and taxpayers.

[SBB’s reply] To the best of my knowledge, the president of Paramount Homes and I have never spoken or met, although we have been in the same room at several Board of Adjustment hearings… On one occasion Paramount’s attorney, Mark Troncone, discussed with me the possibility of a reduced number of housing units. This was a serious professional breach on the part of Mr. Troncone, who should have known that it is highly improper for an attorney to make a direct proposal to an objector without going through the attorney representing that objector… In the proposal made by Mr. Troncone, Save Barnegat Bay, did not opt to have “input”; why should we compromise the environment and the public interest in a situation where a newly enacted zoning ordinance is explicitly on our side?

Article (standard text) by:
Jeffrey Fernbach
PRESIDENT
PARAMOUNT HOMES

Italicized and underlined responses by:
William deCamp Jr.
President, Save Barnegat Bay

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