MTOTSA told homes have to go

Developers say they hope to avoid eminent domain


Staff Writer

LONG BRANCH — The designated co-developers of the Beachfront North phase II redevelopment zone have decided to move forward with their plan to raze the three-street neighborhood.

A letter dated Dec. 3 was sent to the 36 homeowners in the zone, also known as MTOTSA — Marine and Ocean Terraces and Seaview Avenue — from co-developers Matzel & Mumford Corp., a division of K. Hovnanian, Middletown.

“Matzel & Mumford/Applied Companies remain committed to acquiring all of the MTOTSA properties,” Roger Mumford, president, wrote. “I realize this letter is not what some of you had hoped to receive.”

Mayor Adam Schneider said the letter is “consistent with what we [city officials] have been telling everyone for the last several years.”

Mumford held a meeting with the MTOTSA homeowners on Oct. 21 “for the purpose of discussing the purchase of [MTOTSA] property,” according to a letter sent to MTOTSA residents by Mumford on Sept. 7.

“I had no expectations after that meeting,” Lori Vendetti, MTOTSA member, said. “That meeting was a fact-finding mission. They wanted to find out who was willing to sell; they did not produce anything.

“They wanted to see if any of us could be bought.”

MTOTSA presented the revitalization plan they designed for their neighborhood to Mumford at the meeting, which calls for their homes to remain a part of the city’s redevelopment plan.

“We took the city’s original plan and showed how we [MTOTSA] can fit in with the plans the city already made,” Olga Netto, a MTOTSA member, said.

Mumford said he would meet with the group again in two weeks, according to Netto.

“During the time that has elapsed since our recent meeting,” Mumford wrote on Dec. 3, “representatives of Matzel & Mumford reviewed the information provided to us by MTOTSA which we shared with the Applied Companies, our joint venture

partner, and the city of Long Branch.”

Glen Ward, director of community develop for the co-developers, said the company would not comment on the plans presented by MTOTSA.

“The letter was sent as a follow-up to the meeting held with the residents of Beachfront North phase II to inform them of our intentions to proceed with the redevelopment we have been discussing for their area,” Ward said.

The developers’ plans, which were submitted to the city on Feb. 27, call for the homes in MTOTSA to be bulldozed and replaced with condominiums and townhouses.

“We had hoped there would be a second meeting, but unfortunately their plans changed,” Netto said. “We will proceed with what we are doing and object to the taking of our homes.”

There will be no other meetings scheduled, according to Ward.

MTOTSA has been interviewing six law firms in expectation of their homes being taken and will have legal representation hired by the end of the year, according to Netto.

The developers are currently in the process of hiring an appraiser for MTOTSA in order to begin negotiations with each homeowner for purchase of the properties, according to Ward, who said eminent domain will be used as a last resort.

The process is anticipated to begin within the next couple of weeks, Ward said.

“Many of us had hoped [Mumford] would look at our plan and incorporate us into their plan,” Vendetti said. “In the back of my mind I knew they would do this because they do not care about our properties or about saving our neighborhood.”