In a column in the current issue of the triCityNews, Freeholder Director Lillian Burry said that one of her opponents in the coming election was right when he accused Burry of not supporting “agricultural and farmland preservation in “coastal” towns. “It’s for the same reason I don’t support beach replenishment in Upper Freehold and Millstone. There aren’t any beaches there, just as there aren’t a lot of farms in Red Bank or Long Branch or Asbury Park.”
Burry points out that there in only one parcel in the region qualified for the farmland preservation program, in Long Branch, and that the owner of the property has not applied to sell the development rights to the program which is funded by municipal, county and state dollars.
At issue is beachfront property at the north end of Asbury Park that is slated for residential development. There is some vocal opposition to the proposed development and Democratic Freeholder candidate Joe Grillo is trying to jump on that band wagon to get traction in his fledgling campaign against Burry and Deputy Freeholder Director Gary Rich.
Grillo is confusing land acquisition programs…the farmland preservation program is not the same as the open space program..and he is attempting to confuse the public by making the beach front development a county issue when, at this point, it is a Asbury Park issue. Neither the owner of the property nor the Asbury Park governing body has expressed a desire to prevent the development by selling the property to the governments.
Grillo and the local opponents of the development are hoping to create further confusion on Thursday when the Freeholder Board holds its meeting in Asbury Park. They are rallying the public to come to the meeting to oppose the development, as if the Freeholders make those decisions.
The freeholders should not take the bait, no matter how silly the circus gets on Thursday. They should let the members of the public know that, if and when, Asbury Park and the owner of the property apply to preserve the property through whatever appropriate program is available, that the county will consider it. Until such time, it is a local issue and the locals need to figure it out.
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders should not usurp the planning and zoning decisions of municipalities. That, in effect is what Grillo and the opponents of the beachfront development are advocating.
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