Category Archives: Dustin Racioppi

Perfect Timing As Latest Robo-Call Counters RedBankGreen Fluff Piece On Bamm Hollow Development

Earlier today I was surfing my favorite website and found a fluff piece on RedBankGreen.com concerning some old news about the redevelopment of the Bamm Hollow Country Club in Lincroft. I was going to post about it but I got dragged away until now, which as circumstances will have it was a good thing, because an hour or so later after reading how Township “OFFICIALS TOUT BAMM HOLLOW OPEN SPACE“, the telephone rang.

On the other end of the phone was another robo-call issued by the group calling themselves “Concerned Citizens of Middletown”. It stated how the addition of 500 homes in and around Lincroft is will be eroding the quality of life of residents in Middletown.

I copied the message off of my answering machine and have it posted below, along with a transcript for anyone interested in hearing it.

It must have been a slow news day for Dustin Racioppi and the RedBankGreen, as I said the story is old and is reporting on what was said in May when the court case was settled.

Middletown, as Township Attorney Brian Nelson (how come Township Administrator Tony Mercantante or Assistant Administrator James Van Nest didn’t talk to RBG about this?) would like everyone to believe, did not win big.
Bam Hollow was originally zoned for 50 homes. The original proposal was to increase it to 200 homes. The Plannig Board said no and Bamm Hollow sued for 1,200. The Township setteld for 190. So who actually won big time here?
Brian Nelson and friends were not going to win the lawsuit, which is why they settled. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting it, so it is apparent who won big time. The lawyers hired by the Township to fight a losing battle. the open space would have been there
regardless.

(Concerned Citizens Robo-Call #6: Eroding the Quality Of Life)
http://www.archive.org/flow/flowplayer.commercial-3.2.1.swf

Have you heard the quality of life in Middletown, according to Money Magazine, has dropped 39% during the past four years?

Poor planning and dense re-zoning by Middletown politicians led to approval for over 500 new homes in Lincroft and Bamm Hollow.

Increased density will further erode our declining quality of life, and compete with homeowner’s unable to sell their homes in this dismal economy.

It’s time to clean house and throw-out incumbent politicians.

(Paid for by Concerned Citizens of Middletown)

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Filed under Bamm Hollow Country Club, Brian Nelson, Concerned Citizens of Middletown, Dustin Racioppi, open space, RedBankGreen.com, Redevelopment Lincroft, Robo-calls, Tony Mercantante

>Avaya Re-Development On Tonight’s Planning Board Agenda In Middletown

>Tonight’s 6:30 pm meeting of the Middletown Planning Board should be interesting, at tonight’s meeting plans for the controversial Avaya redevelopment project will be discussed.

This project calls for 342 housing units to be built off Middletown-Lincroft Rd. in Lincroft and has caused a major backlash of opposition against the project by area residents. The Lincroft Village Green Association and the citizens group SONIC ( Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity & Character), have each rallied their members and plan to have large contingencies there.
Redbankgreen.com‘s Dustin Racioppi has a good write-up on it:

Middletown’s planning board will meet Wednesday to hear a proposal that’s got neighbors up in arms and township officials grinding their teeth.

The proposed project, submitted by Four Ponds Associates, calls for the demolition of a large office building vacated by telecom giant Avaya and the construction of 342 residential units on 68 acres on Middletown-Lincroft Road.

For locals, the prospect of adding hundreds of homes to the tract is an unwelcome one, as traffic and safety top the concerns, not to mention a serious disruption to the Lincroft section’s quality of life, they say.

For township officials, the proposal represents “archaic and ridiculous” affordable housing laws imposed by the state. But until changes are made in Trenton, they’re handcuffed, they say.

“We oppose this development and every development we’ve been forced into under the guise of affordable housing regulations,” Mayor Tony Fiore said, “especially when they’re not in the best interest of Middletown. And that’s exactly what’s going on here.”

Currently, the property is zoned for office use but is able to add residential units since the town listed the property in its affordable housing plan, which was revised in 2009, Administrator Anthony Mercantante said. No variances are being sought.

A non-profit advocacy group made up of residents, the Lincroft Village Green Association, has called for the town to rezone the property back to residential single-family or commercial use.

But “We have no authority to simply rezone” the property, Fiore said. “We would be steadfast in doing that. Unfortunately, the legislature and the state assembly has given us no relief.”

Of the 342 units proposed, 68 are said in the builder’s application to satisfy the town’s affordable housing obligation, a murky mandate delivered by the state Council On Affordable Housing – which itself is in limbo, as Governor Chris Christie has recommended eliminating COAH and letting local municipalities decide how much affordable housing is necessary within their boundaries….

Finish reading >>> Here


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Filed under Avaya, COAH, Dustin Racioppi, Lincroft NJ, lincroft village green association, Middletown Planning Board, RedBankGreen.com, Sonic

>RedBankGreen.com: M’TOWN LIBRARY DEBATE GETS PERSONAL

>Dustin Racioppi of RedBankGreen.com posted his take on last night’s Library Board of Trustees meeting in Middletown just a few ago.

In my opinion Racioppi’s take on the meeting was closer to what actually transpired than what Kevin Penton wrote for the Asbury Park Press. Racioppi did a decent job of telling how contentious portions of the meet was last night, but unless you where actually there, you have no idea how heavy the atmosphere and mood actually was.

Committeeman Kevin Settembrino seemed like he was a henchman or stooge form the mafia’s godfather last night. He was very demanding and lack civility on many occasions that I witnessed.

I left last nights meeting with the impression that the Library would only turn over to the Township the funds that they legally have to under state statue, which in an of itself was an issue that was haggled over and would amount to about $200K based on the Boards interpretation of the law, a far cry from the almost $900K that the Township committee is looking for.

Here is some of what Dustin Racioppi had to say about last nights meeting:

…Indeed, this was not going to be swift or pretty, as the library faced implications it had never seen before: the threat of being transferred to the Monmouth County library system and indirect blame for township employees being laid off.

At the end of the long night, though, the board compromised, agreeing to have the attorneys and administrators from both bodies meet within the next two weeks to try and agree upon an “amicable” figure the library would take from its surplus and transfer to the general budget. That number will be voted on at a meeting in March.

It took a marathon of debate to get to that point, though.

Residents filled the library’s meeting room to probe officials, tell their stories about the library and, at times, take jabs at elected officials. At one point, a line seven deep formed behind the microphone.

Resident Mike Burns took aim at Committeeman Kevin Settembrino, who also serves on the library board and favors the raid on the surplus. It was, perhaps, an initiation to Middletown politics for Settembrino, who took office in January and, as Burns pointed out, doesn’t hold a library card.

“Mr. Settembrino, when was the last time you checked out a book? When was the last time you checked out a CD? When was the last time you checked out a DVD?” he asked. “I think it’s interesting that you’re on the library board. Can you tell me what the difference is between you serving on the library board and Osama bin Laden serving on the Department of Homeland Security?”

While harsh comments peppered the meeting, there was also constructive criticism for township officials to consider in the formation of Middletown’s budget.

The town, facing declining revenues and a staggering amount of tax appeal refunds, came to the library board last month for help, asking for $898,000 to cover the library’s debt service on a bond for the library’s renovation and a decrease in its property value.

Linda Baum suggested that rather than dip into the library surplus, the committee should consider other cost-reduction options, like outsourcing leaf and brush collection.

“There’s your million dollars right there,” she said. “We obviously need to do some creative thinking.”

Before the meeting got started, and shortly after, the tension among the board and committee members reached a fever pitch as a result of the committee’s threat that if the board didn’t help with the town budget, the committee would explore the option of transferring the library to the county system. The committee also filed a layoff plan with the state calling for the elimination of 26 jobs, including those of 10 police officers, adding to the pressure put on the library board….

You can read his full take on last nights meeting >>> Here

And again I need to state, even if the Library hands over a portion of its surplus funds, it will have no effect on the previously announced layoffs of 26 township employees. Those jobs are considered lost already by the Township Committee we learned last night. Any funds that the Township receives from the Library could only possibly prevent more employees loosing their jobs.

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Filed under budget cuts, budget deficit, budget surplus, Dustin Racioppi, Kevin Settembrino, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, RedBankGreen.com

>ReBankGreen.Com: SCHARFENBERGER BLASTED FOR PAY CLAIM

> Nice job on the column posted at RedBankGreen.com detailing the events that went on last night at the Middletown Township Committee Meeting. Dustin Racioppi told it like it happend, with little sugar coating of the details.

What stood out to me the most about the column was the after interview that Scharfenberger gave to Racioppi, it was a further attempt on Gerry’s part at a little revisionist history.

Racioppi states that, “…he (Scharfenberger) didn’t make an announcement about the state job for two reasons: the state, he said, was in the middle of restructuring the planning agency, and he thought it would put out some sort of press release announcing his hiring; and he didn’t want to appear he was using the job to show his support of the Christie administration in an election year…”

This comes after he was qouted last week in the Two River Times and the Independent that he thought “everyone knew” because everyone around him knew about it and because it was posted on the State’s website .

Scharfenberger, then went on to add that those that have bashed him have a personal vendetta against him.

After reading this type of crap comming out of Scharfy, is there any doubt why so many question his integrity and issues with disclosing the truth, it’s not a personnal vendetta against him, it’s a vendetta for truth and transparency from those that are elected to represent Middletown’s residents.

Scharfenberger, an archaeologist and adjunct professor at Monmouth University, told redbankgreen that he didn’t make an announcement about the state job for two reasons: the state, he said, was in the middle of restructuring the planning agency, and he thought it would put out some sort of press release announcing his hiring; and he didn’t want to appear he was using the job to show his support of the Christie administration in an election year.

You can read the full article >>> Here

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Filed under Dustin Racioppi, Gerry Scharfenberger, honesty and integrity, RedBankGreen.com, transparency, Uncategorized

M’TOWNERS STILL STEAMING OVER BUDGET


I wasn’t able to attend last night’s Middletown Township Committee meeting due to a death in the family. I knew that it was going to be contentious and a spectacle to observe, and according to an article posted on the RedBankGreen.com by Dustin Racioppi it seems to have been just that, below is a small snippet of what he wrote:

“…A pending review of the 2010 spending plan at the state level pushed back the adoption date to mid-August. Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger said the Local Finance Board, which reviews municipal budgets for compliance with state laws and regulations, is backlogged, and Middletown is set to have its done by August 11.

Meantime, the township committee held a public hearing on the $65 million proposal, which would increase average tax bills by $211 annually.

As usual of late, the governing body took a beating from the public.

“Everything we buy goes up, but everything coming in goes down,” resident Angela Bennik said. “At the end of the day, when our tax bill comes in, it’s up.”

Bennik later said she’s disappointed with how the town has been run, without a budget in place for most of the year and, in tough economic times, an increase to boot.

“The town should be run like a family,” she said. “I go out to get groceries. If I can’t afford it, tough, you can’t eat. You can’t spend what you don’t have.”

There’s also a sense of frustration that the municipal portion of tax bills skyrocketed over last year, up 13 percent.

“I have wants and I have needs. I can’t have all my wants,” Sandra Craig Barry said. “You are asking us to sign off on a 13-percent increase. We just can’t do it anymore.”


“Not really,” Scharfenberger interjected. “It’s going to be cut down from there.”

Scharfenberger says pending measures, like spreading out retirement pension and benefits payouts, will drastically alter the spending plan when it comes back for adoption next month…”

It seems like they had themselves one hell’va, rip roaring , good time last night! But after reading Racioppi’s column I am left with a few questions for our acting mayor Gerry Scharfenberger.

First of all, Scharfenberger is quoted as saying that the tax increase will not be 13% or above because it will be cut down from there… really, by who? Is Scharfenberger and the rest of his GOP majority buddies waiting for the Local Finance Board to make cuts to the proposed increase for them, therefore skirting their own responsibilities over the budget? It would seem that way.

If that is not the case and Gerry and his friends are trying to spread out pension payments and other cost to limit the 13% tax increase then why wasn’t this plan presented last night with the corresponding savings to the tax rate? They have had nearly a full month since the budget was first introduce to the public on June 23rd, why wasn’t anything new presented last night?
Lastly, according to Scharfenberger, the online suggestion box at the Township’s website is not bearing the fruit that they had hoped it would, so it seems the majority that controls the Township Committee, is out of ideas of their own on how cut costs.
A quote from the article has our mayor stating,

“I would prefer people say what they could do without, we have to hear that. We can’t just surmise it, and then there’s a lot of people on the other side.”


This quote is a classic example of a “cop out” if I ever saw or heard one. As our mayor, Gerry Scharfenberger needs to have a backbone and lead… or step down. Make the tough choices you were elected to make and stop looking to others in order to make yourself and others look good. It is a sign of weakness and unbecoming of an elected official.
You can read Dustin Racioppi’s full article >>>Here


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Filed under budget introduction, Dustin Racioppi, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, RedBankGreen.com, tax increase