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Judge Rules: Brick Neighborhood Destroyed by Sandy Cannot be Rebuilt as Planned

An Ocean County Superior Court judge ruled this week that a plan to rebuild a portion of the Camp Osborn neighborhood – destroyed in Superstorm Sandy – cannot go forward. 

Judge Arnold B. Goldman ruled that a plan to build 13 homes on a plot of land where 32 once stood violates the zoning of the neighborhood to an extent where the variance granted by the township’s Board of Adjustment is invalid. 

Even though the owner of the plot of land, located in the southernmost portion of the barrier island neighborhood, reduced the number of homes there by half, neighboring homeowners on Lyndhurst Drive – which backs up to the parcel – sued, arguing only three or four larger homes should be able to be constructed there. 

The plot of land is in the township’s R7.5 zone, which requires 7,500 square foot lots. John Jackson, attorney for the developer, argued the land was historically used for smaller homes and the proposed development fit in with the character of the neighborhood. The case also highlighted a larger debate as to whether middle class buyers are being blocked from living on the barrier island due to zoning regulations. 

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The longtime owner of the plot of land, Bob Osborn, died during the proceedings. His family has since sold the land to a North Jersey developer. Osborn’s family had leased the land to homeowners at the site for generations before a fire ignited during Sandy destroyed the community. 

The nearby homeowners opposing the project were supported by the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, which favors less dense development in coastal areas.