Camp Osborne is a unique neighborhood in town – and not just because of its quiet, skinny streets that run from the ocean to the bay.
The neighborhood, just south of Bayview Park and Brick Beach III, is a cooperative, meaning residents own their homes, but not necessarily the land on which they are built. The arrangement works out just fine – until, however, a homeowner wants to make repairs or renovations to their home.
Under long-standing township zoning laws, residents often had to endure an arduous regulatory process to make the simplest of upgrades, such as replacing windows, Councilman Michael Thulen said recently.
"To get a permit, you had to jump through so many hoops, it wasn't funny," said Thulen.
Even worse, when a site survey was required to make a renovation, the entire neighborhood was required to be surveyed, causing financial hardships for many residents.
"It's no big deal if it's your own house or your own lot ... but when it's 100 houses, it's a big cost," said Councilman Dan Toth.
But a new zoning ordinance introduced Nov. 22 aims to make things easier.
The ordinance takes into account a full survey conducted on the entire neighborhood, the cost of which was assessed to the local homeowners. So when one resident seeks to modify his or her home, the township will already have a full survey document on file.
"It may not be perfect, but we're going to try and see how it works, and we'll get more feedback," said Toth. "It's a living document, so we'll be able to add to it."
Since the survey has been completed, residents are already seeing benefits, and the ordinance modification will only make things easier.
"WIth the survey that's already been accomplished, over 30 permits have already been put through," Thulen said. "It will be another way to avoid a cost to the homeowner to get a permit."
The revised ordinance is expected to be approved on second reading at the council's December meeting.