Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Last Word for 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

All The Best

Fair Housing & anti- "steering" codes prevent all Realtors from passing judgment on any given neighborhood, town, or school district. We advise buyers to drive around any area of interest and then go online and research. One of the best full spectrum sites is Sperling's "Best Places". They boast that "Our neighborhood profiles contains almost 100 pieces of data on every zip code in the United States." Check it out.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Christmas Gift for Liongate

Yet another reason for celebration in Bloomfield:
Fefferman/AFC Fairways, a deep pockets NY Developer, has just withdrawn its DEP application to add 114 townhouses to this property. This could signal the end of the community's six year battle to forestall developers on Liongate Drive. Full details on The Bloomfield Third Riverbank blogsite.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Council Coup for Christmas in Bloomfield

You don't have to go to Thailand, Fiji, or a banana republic to see coups and insurrections. Bloomfield's normally staid council conference meetings have recently been the scene of several occasions of closed door maneuvers by his fellow Democrats that have left two term Mayor Ray McCarthy with less and less influence. From last summer's firing of Vincent Pirone, the town attorney for decades,to, this week, sacking equally long term Zoning chief, John Lazar. According to the council's lone Republican, Ray Tamborini,"
“They have, in essence, rendered the mayor completely ineffective.”

from My Community Life/Bloomfield Life:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Check Up Time for Green Challenge

Over the last eight weeks, 30,033 (and counting) Green Challenge participants have pledged to shed 58,678,436 pounds of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 5,998 cars off the road for a year. Now comes the moment of truth: How many of your pledges have you fulfilled? Did you really cut beef from your diet, inflate your car tires, turn down your thermostat, and take the train instead of flying? The Green Challenge wrap-up quiz asks you to revisit your pledges. Will we meet our goal of a 20 percent reduction in collective carbon emissions? Only you can help us find out! Learn about The Slate Green Challenge here, or go straight to the Slate Green Challenge Wrap Up Quiz.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Buck Stops at Schoor

Noted engineer is indicted as part of corruption probe
From The Star-Ledger

The founder of a prominent engineering firm that has become one of the state's biggest government contractors was indicted by a federal grand jury on corruption charges yesterday.

The charges against Howard Schoor, 67, of Colts Neck stem from a long-running federal investigation into corruption in Monmouth County that has snared two dozen public officials.

he firm Schoor founded in 1968, Schoor DePalma, has been involved in high-profile projects in the public and private sector and has showered New Jersey politicians with millions of dollars in campaign cash over the years. The firm's engineers have been involved with everything from the Asbury Park waterfront redevelopment to Jersey Gardens mall and the Turnpike's Interchange 13A.

Schoor DePalma, based in Manalapan, is a household name in New Jersey politics. As governments around the state have debated a crackdown on pay-to-play, the practice of contributing campaign cash to help win public contracts, the engineering firm has often been cited as a prime player in the system.

The firm and its employees have donated nearly $3 million to New Jersey politicians and political parties at the state and county levels over the past quarter-century, mostly to Democrats. It ceased giving donations last August amid criticism of pay-to-play and the corruption investigation.

Continue reading at:
(graphic courtesy of The Asbury Park Press)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another Revolting Development?

Just when you thought they couldn't possibly squeeze any more riverside condo developments into the mix, our ace council observer for The Bloomfield Third RiverBank Association, first broke this story to her email list:

Well, Ralph Salerno was back in front of the council
last night promoting the latest housing nightmare for

This time a developer wants to rezone the area of
National Starch (off Belleville Ave..across the river
from memorial field) to a garden apartment zone...but
instead of making low rise garden apartments, he
wants 4-story buildings... enough for 300 units

Several pitches included expanding the permeable
surface. There was a square on the plan that said
recreation center. Repeated questions were
mysteriously avoided by Salerno who said, for legal
reasons, this couldn't be discussed. So I guess they
are dangling a new recreation center in exchange for
high density on a flood plain? ... they were also dangling
age-restricted housing units. They were also somehow claiming the
traffic from these units would be less than the truck
traffic tying up Belleville Avenue currently. Or at
least I think that was what they were saying. And they
were saying this would bring another $3 million
dollars to Bloomfield's pocket book.

The council is sending a request to the planning board
to consider rezoning the property.

More info can be found in this week's Bloomfield Independent Press.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Liongate Memories from Weird NJ

Below are links to the WeirdNJ article in the current (October 2006) issue -- via The Third Riverbank blog site. Included are historical photos and personal memories of the magazine's editor, Mark Sceurman, growing up next to the Scientific Glass site.

As to the significance of the mysterious letters on the Clark's Thread tower, you will find it in Mark's article.

For best results with these pdfs, you may need to copy, paste, & rotate.

To send letters to the magazine, use the e-mail address below. If enough letters come in riffing on SGA, the editor will continue to write about the subject. You can also check out their interactive message forum.

Friday, December 08, 2006

From PiggyBack Mortgages to Holiday lights

Some homebuyers used these mortgages, which stack a smaller second home loan on top of a primary mortgage, to buy their homes during the recent housing boom. The Real Estate's Terri Cullen explains when it does, and doesn't, make sense to refinance a piggyback mortgage. (This is one of those rare Wall Street Journal sites that doesn't require a paid subscription --so it's a link worth bookmarking.)
Scroll to the bottom of her column for a light hearted discussion on the reasons why women seem to prefer white holiday plug-ins while men like theirs multi-colored.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Eminent Domain Goes Green


The state Supreme Court today granted its approval to what has been called a new weapon for towns fighting development.

In a 6-1 ruling, the court said that towns have a statutory right to use eminent domain to condemn properties for open space.

"The citizens of New Jersey have expressed a strong and sustained public interest in the acquisition and preservation of open space," the court wrote in a brief unauthored decision. Former Chief Justice Deborah Poritz, Justices Virginia Long, James Zazzali, the current chief, Barry Albin, Jaynee LaVecchia and James Wallace joined in the four-page opinion.

In the name of eminent domain, Mount Laurel took land a builder was going to use for a 23-house project. The town said it wanted to preserve the 16 acres - one of the few undeveloped properties in town. Last year, a state appeals court ruled the town acted properly.

The majority tempered its decision, saying the developer should be paid the property's fair maket value....

The case has been followed by critics of last year's controversial ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed local governments wide latitude to condemn and knock down homes and businesses to foster private economic development.

Visit to read the decision.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New rules for buying NJ farmland

From The Star-Ledger :

Move too slowly to buy a house and a competing buyer may grab it, even in this cooling real estate market. The same is true of farmland in the nation's most densely populated state.

State officials -- who have already spent a half-billion dollars preserving farms -- have come to realize this and have proposed new rules to help shorten the time the state can get checks to farmers. Instead of considering only once a year which farms to purchase, officials are considering looking at farms continuously through the year.

"Absolutely, the biggest complaint about the program statewide is the time it takes, particularly when a landowner is working with the county," said Susan Craft, executive director of the State Agriculture Development Committee.

The organizational shift comes just in time as the state has seen more than a three-fold increase in farms preserved annually over the past decade, officials said. By buy ing farm tracts outright and purchasing easements to prevent development, the state has saved some 1,440 farms comprising upwards of 150,000 acres to ensure agriculture stays viable in the Garden State.

"(Farmers) have been a year into the cycle, and then Toll Brothers or K. Hovnanian shows up and offers them more money," Traylor said.

Morris County Preservation Trust Director Frank Pinto called the rule changes "the most significant in the 23 years" of the state- led program. He said the "revolving door" system will give him increased credibility with farmers who want to close quickly.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Oak Tree Redux -- Any Buyers?

When it was first put on the market 2 years ago, 24 Oak Tree lane was described as an historic Bloomfield farmhouse and family homestead. c.1840
...first time on market...corner property/oversized lot... possible subdivision.... Sold 'AS IS'. Buyer resp. for CO. Oil tank in basement. The asking price was $310,000.

Today, it's being presented as 32 Oak Tree Lane..."Vacant Land" ("Offered with all approved permits and architectural plans. Green Building will be removed and land cleared of debris.") The asking price is $329,000.

A small price for a 19th Century history lesson. It also happens to face the only "footprint" for the historic Morris Canal.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tree Huggers -- Western Style

NJ environ-mentalists have waged many successful battles to preseve old-growth trees. They may find inspiration from these folks in Berkeley:

from SF

Save the Oaks activists are up in the trees at Cal's Memorial Stadium to protest the plans to remove oak and redwood there.

It may be a bit drafty, but life is pretty good 40 feet above Berkeley.
"You can see the bay and the city lights," said Kingman Lim, a recent UC Berkeley graduate who is among five or so activists who've taken up residence in two coast live oaks and a redwood next to Memorial Stadium.

Three days after they began their leafy sit-in, activists with Save the Oaks were busy chatting with reporters via cell phones, shouting to the festive encampment below and affirming their vow not to come down unless UC scraps plans to replace the trees with a $125 million athletic training center.

"It's exhilarating," said the group's leader, Zachary RunningWolf, a contractor and former Berkeley mayoral candidate, who's now swinging in a hammock in a redwood tree. "It's such a powerful form of protest."

The UC Regents' buildings and grounds subcommittee is scheduled to vote today on the training center plan, which calls for the removal, as early as next month, of 42 oaks, redwoods and other trees next to the stadium.

Among those drawn to the encampment Monday was folk singer Country Joe McDonald, a Berkeley resident who brought Cheez-Its, peanuts and apples for the arboreal activists.

"I've pretty much made up my mind to hug a tree if they try to chop one down," said McDonald. "I'm not going to climb one, though. I don't want to fall like Keith Richards."

The group has grown from three tree-sitters, each perched in a separate tree, to about five sharing quarters and a dozen more below who deliver food and remove waste.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Reverse Mortgages take aim at affluent

From The Baltimore Sun:

Once an expensive last resort for elderly homeowners struggling for financial survival, reverse mortgages are now being sold as retirement planning tools for affluent people.

Despite a softening housing market, mortgage brokers say homeowners are using them to tap into their equity to invest in stocks, upgrade their living quarters or simply pay expenses in lieu of dipping into their retirement accounts too heavily.

Federally insured reverse mortgages grew a stunning 77 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 compared with fiscal 2005, according to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. That's 76,351 home equity conversion mortgages, which are available to homeowners 62 and older.

As the name implies, a reverse mortgage is a loan that allows homeowners to use their equity to create a lump sum of cash, a stream of monthly payments, a line of credit, or some combination of all three.

"Over the next year we're going to see better pricing on federally insured and private loans, so if you can wait, do it," said Ken Scholen, a reverse mortgage expert with AARP.

Reverse mortgages can be an expensive way to tap equity, but some of the newer products allow more flexibility in payment streams and higher loan amounts.

"It's really a changing marketplace. A year from now, the industry will be very different," said Peter Bell, president of the reverse-mortgage lenders association....

"Competition is going to be terrific for this business," said Tom Kelly, author of The New Reverse Mortgage Formula: How to Convert Home Equity into Tax-Free Income.

"Traditionally, this was only for people in desperate situations who were deciding between eating and taking their medications," Kelly said.

With the new products for higher-end homes, however, seniors are thinking about tapping only a portion of that equity. They can take out a reverse mortgage for a portion of the equity, then let market appreciation take care of bringing back the heirs' value over time.

As with all reverse mortgages, remember to study the contract details before jumping in, experts said, because there may be lower-cost and better options for tapping cash.

Mortgage counseling must be provided to all reverse-mortgage shoppers in the federal programs, and counselors in the coming year will be equipped to evaluate how new private loan offers measure up to the federal program, AARP's Scholen said.

Finally, be sure to look at selling your home and compare that with the reverse mortgage fees and interest rates.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Massive Preservation Grants for Morris County

Voters gave approval to ambitious projects

From The Star-Ledger:

Morris County approved $23.8 million in preservation grants for projects in 20 towns, including $3 million for the largest open-space project it has ever helped fund, to save 1,611 acres in the Troy Meadows natural area in Parsippany and East Hanover.

The Morris County Preservation Trust also will provide nearly $5 million to finance purchases of 135 acres in Mendham Township owned by two religious orders of nearly the same name.

The record $23.8 million in open space awards was financed by a voter-approved county tax of 4.5 cents per $100 of property value, generating $40 million this year, said Morris County Preservation Director Frank Pinto.

"There are not a lot of big, open parcels left in the county," Pinto said. "The remaining big parcels, which are attractive to developers, are becoming more expensive. We are facing more competition as the costs go up. Thankfully, we have more dollars."

The first deal garnered $2.6 million in county open space funding that targets 1,431 acres in Parsippany, while a second got $359,500 for a connected 180 acres in East Hanover.

Parsippany Mayor Michael Luther, who called the county funding "very exciting," said he hopes to reach an amicable agreement with Wildlife Preserves. He noted an uplands portion of the property has development potential, which concerns him.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

NJ Vernal Habitats

Here's a source for some unique NJ maps:
In conjunction with its newly adopted vernal habitats protocols, the NJDEP is providing mapping to assist in locating the vernal habitats so far identified and certified by the Department. The mapping is approximate, and will be updated and refined on an ongoing basis as more vernal habitats are certified. More detailed information on a particular vernal habitat can be obtained by contacting the Land Use Regulation Program at

Areas highlighted in green on the New Jersey state map on the site represent USGS Quadrangles in which there exist vernal habitats. If you click on area representing the quadrangle, a detailed map will appear showing specific locations of the vernal habitats in that area. The example here is in the Wanaque Reservoir region. To access other regions, click on the heading above.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pushback on NJ School Consolidation Proposals

From the Glen Ridge Paper:

Educators start new funding call

Paul Rooney is a lifelong Democrat, but after Wednesday’s Education Forum at the Women’s Club of Glen Ridge, he said he will vote for any Republican who opposes the recommendations recently submitted by the Government Consolidation and Shared Services Committee.

Rooney, a Glen Ridge resident, was among several dozen homeowners from this borough to attend the Board of Education forum, titled “Save Our Schools — Save our Town,” which served two purposes: answering questions about the committee’s proposals, and encouraging residents to lobby against the ideas..

A study released by the New Jersey Department of Education said Glen Ridge spends about $1 million more than it needs to spend in educating its children. “I am not an alarmist by nature,” said [School District Superintendent Daniel ] Fishbein, “but leveling down education for the sake of lowering property taxes is not the answer.”

The consolidation committee had originally been interested in consolidating all New Jersey’s school districts into 21 county districts, but that idea has been shelved in favor of a pilot program that would use one voluntary county as an experiment in county-based education administration.

Ginsburg said any promise of savings from consolidation is false.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Roasting Penguins on Thanksgiving

Right wing grinches have found a new bete noir.
It's those rascally penguins as depicted in the current hit film: "Happy Feet."
According to the Media Matters story, their issue is with the "far left global warming propaganda" they found in the movie.
Don't miss the comments that follow the text version of the video clips.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Top 10 Least Affordable Markets in 2006, 3rd Quarter

We're still reading the latest from those pesky real estate bloggers:

The National Association of Home Builders has their new affordability survey out and the results are very scary for average earners in these regions. [All are in California except for the NY_NJ Metro-market at no. 10] To understand the severity of the situation, only 1.8 percent of the new housing inventory could be afforded by the average earner in L.A. Watch the middle class flee these cities as they gentrify to the extreme.

1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA 1.8 percent of homes built that are affordable to average buyer
2. Salinas, CA 2.6 percent
3. Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA 3.8 percent
4. Modesto, CA 4.1 percent
5. Merced, CA 4.3 percent
6. Stockton, CA 4.8 percent
7. Madera, CA 4.8 percent
8. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 4.9 percent
9. Napa, CA 4.9 percent
10. New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ 5.1 percent

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NJ Improving on Foreclosures


10 States with Highest Foreclosure Rate October 2006

RealtyTrac has come out with their October 2006 numbers and the results are in. Colorado leads the way with once out of 337 homes in foreclosure. Vermont had the least amount of foreclosures in the country with only one home in foreclosure. Bet that guy has the neighbors talking for breaking the perfect streak. (Although still on the bottom 10, New Jersey is now trending towards a decreasing foreclosure market.)

The percentages are the change from October of 2005.

Top 10 States with Homes in Foreclosure October 2006

Colorado 1 out of 337 homes (117 % increase)

Nevada 1 out of 389 homes (557 % increase)

Georgia 1 out of 449 homes (99 % increase)

Michigan 1 out of 623 homes (88 % increase)

Illinois 1 out of 632 homes (144 % increase)

Florida 1 out of 640 homes (49 % increase)

Ohio 1 out of 654 homes (55 % increase)

Tennessee 1 out of 668 homes ( 99 % increase)

New Jersey 1 out of 675 homes (37 % decrease)

Utah 1 out of 718 homes (13 % increase)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

NJ on Track for Mild Winter

Nov. 16, 2006 — Meteorologists at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center today released the latest U.S. seasonal outlook and reiterated once again this winter is likely to be warmer than the 30-year norm (1971-2000) over much of the nation, yet cooler than last year's very warm winter season. NOAA's heating degree day forecast for December, January and February projects a 2 percent warmer winter than the 30 year average but about 9 percent cooler than last year. (Click NOAA image for larger view of winter temperature outlook for December 2006 through February 2007. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Meanwhile, a strengthening El Niño event continues to develop in the equatorial Pacific and is likely to continue into spring 2007. "During moderate as well as strong El Niño episodes, an increase in the occurrence of extreme cold days, especially in the Northeast, becomes less likely," said Vernon Kousky, research meteorologist at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

EcoTalk on Election Results

Wonder how greem friendly candidates and issues fared last week? Click on the heading above for an 8 minute podcast on this an other hot eco-topics.Also China's dubious global warming mantle, new coal-powered plants in Kansas, and one of the best inventions of 2006,

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

NJ Residents Distrust Eminent Domain

From the AP:
Most New Jersey voters dislike the ability of government to take land from its owners for redevelopment, according to a poll released yesterday.

The survey also found that interest in the topic remains high nearly a year after a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed a Connecticut city to use eminent domain to seize homes for commercial use. Several bills to restrict the use of eminent domain are pending in the state Legislature.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll asked respondents to consider four scenarios under which local and state governments might seize property; none was supported by a majority.

The least objectionable plan, found acceptable by nearly half those polled, would have "dilapidated properties" replaced by better housing and shops. Only two in seven voters said it was acceptable to raze houses and shops for a new school, while one is six said it was okay for active farmland to be taken to build a new school or ball field. Nine in 10 voters said it was not acceptable to take middle-class housing and replace it with "upscale condos and shops," said the survey, which was sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau.

"This issue has staying power," said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickin son and a survey analyst for Public Mind. "In a crowded state with pressure for development, pressure for redevelopment and pressure for conservation, there is bound to be conflict."

The poll of 577 likely voters was conducted by telephone from Oct. 25 to 31 and has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hedging Election Bets

From the Inman News Blog:

No matter what the outcome of the elections, the real estate industry had all the bases covered. Although all the campaign spending numbers aren't in, real estate political action committees pumped at least $7.2 million into the midterm Congressional elections. Republican candidates got 57 percent of real estate PAC money and Democrats 43 percent, according to Open Secrets, which tracks campaign spending.
According to Open Secrets, the National Association of Realtors PAC was the biggest spender of any in the nation, regardless of industry. NAR spend more than $3 million, with 52 percent going to GOP candidates and the remaining 48 percent to Democrats. With more than $1.9 million in campaign spending, The National Association of Home Builders was also among the nation's top 10 PACs. Republicans were much more likely to be the beneficiaries of the home builders' largesse, taking 74 percent of that pot to 26 percent for Democrats.
The few real estate PACs that favored Democrats included -- surprise! -- Fannie Mae ($523,400 in federal campaign spending, 56 percent to Democrats) and Freddie Mac ($254,250, 52 percent to Dems).
Many of these PACs, including NAR, spent even more money on state elections.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Painting the Town Green

If you're planning on using eco-friendly paints for your next home improvement project, don't count on most latex paints to meet optimal standards.
although much better than oil based paints, even with latex paint there is potential for unhealthful exposure to certain VOCs (volatile organic compounds/chemicals). The most common definition of a VOC is any organic (carbon-based) compound that evaporates at ambient temperatures.
The folks at have many suggestions: YOLO Colorhouse, Sico's zero-VOC option, Anna Sova are just a few that have been discussed in detail. Two other brands to check out are SafeCoat and BioShield. They've also invited readers to share their experiences with finding, buying, using and disposing of low or zero-VOC paints? What works? What doesn't? Has milk paint ever entered the equation?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rising Rivers in Bloomfield

It seemed like a metaphor for yesterday's election "Wave". NNJ was hit by about 18 hours of unrelenting deluge not seen since Floyd with floods to match. With many new developments along The Third River since then, it seems to take much less rain to overrun the riverbanks. Photos were taken in Brookside Park, Lakewood Terrace, and Clark St.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Adapting to a New Market for New Construction

With the glut of unsold new homes coming on the market, one enterpreneur, Thomas V. Caldwell, is predicting a shift by investors to rentals -- telling the NY Times:
"...But smart investors, he argued, were absorbing the surplus by buying up homes that builders were now unloading at bargain prices — some for as little as $60 to $80 a square foot, which local experts say is barely enough to cover construction costs let alone land expenses.

At such prices and with interest rates still low, an investor can cover his monthly costs, maybe even earn a modest income, by renting homes for $900 to $1,400 a month while the market recovers, Mr. Caldwell noted.

“It is not a get-rich quick scheme,” he acknowledged. “But investments in real estate,” he added, “do go up over time.”

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Retiree Gets Soaked by Town Council in Land Deal

From North
Ronald Leach thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity -- a chance to buy a sprawling, tree-studded lot in the center of the densely packed town of Ridgefield, a quiet place where he and his wife could build a retirement home.
As soon as Leach heard the borough was accepting bids for the town-owned land, he rushed into Borough Hall with a promise to pay $350,000.

The 59-year-old trucking company employee also cut a $35,000 check, the required 10 percent down payment, which he borrowed from his retirement plan.

But days later, when Leach found out his was the winning bid -- and the only bid -- he was not celebrating.
By then, he realized he had made a "stupid, stupid mistake." He had assumed he knew what lot the town was selling when an acquaintance in town said it was "next to the Community Center."

He never bothered to look at the zoning maps for the "Lot 3, Block 907" described in the bid specifications.
Leach had not submitted a bid for the beautiful, vacant corner lot next to the town's Community Center, but for the narrow, flood-prone parcel that sits on the other side of Slocum Street and straddles a creek.

The borough's response when Leach tried to back out of the deal and retrieve his $35,000 check added insult: Sorry, it was your mistake, borough officials told him before a majority of the council voted to accept his bid at a meeting in late June.
The bid specification allowed the town to keep the down payment if he were to back out of the deal.

Leach, a 20-year Ridgefield resident, accuses borough officials of being greedy and questions why they would take the retirement money of a well-meaning resident who made an honest mistake.

But Borough Attorney Stephen Pellino said that the borough is not under any legal obligation and that doing so could set a dangerous precedent. "The implications are huge," Pellino said. "We do large [street] repaving bids, and we can't just allow those people to back out of bids."

Leach refused to sign the contract that would have finalized the $350,000 deal, meaning the town still owns the lot, which has an assessed value of $560,000. The problem is, the 7,500-square-foot lot borders Wolf's Creek, and any development of the land would require lengthy and costly approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The bid specifications state that the borough may keep the winning bidder's down payment to cover the town's losses if that bidder does not sign a contract.

The borough recently advertised the land a second time, Pellino said, but there were no bidders.

Suarez said he would not comment on the matter because it could be the subject of litigation. But Councilman Robert Avery, one of two members who voted in June not to accept Leach's bid, said taking Leach's money could lead to a costly lawsuit.
"I'd rather there be a peaceful resolution of the issue instead of more expensive litigation," he said.

"That means negotiations."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Bike Ride for a Healthy Planet

Organized by Essex Greens Clean Energy Campaign, BlueWaveNJ, Bloomfield Third Riverbank Association and Cornucopia.
Photos were taken during their stop at Liongate Drive in Bloomfield.
from UPI:
Thousands of people turned out in London and elsewhere Saturday to march in support of efforts to curb global warming.
The marches were held in the run-up to the Nairobi Climate Talks that begin Monday in Kenya, Sky News reported.

The marches came on the heels of disturbing and disputed predictions that global warming could lead to a severe downturn in the world economy and even the extinction of large numbers of seafood species, Sky News said.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pending Sales Slip

From CNN/Money:

Pending sales of existing homes fall in September, as latest reading from Realtors shows continued slump.

The pace of existing home sales continue to slip in the latest reading of real estate market strength from an industry trade group. The National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index slipped 1.1 percent in September, to a reading of 109.1, the group reported Wednesday.

A reading of 100 represents where the market was in 2001, before the home sales boom of the last few years. The index was down 13.6 percent from the sales pace of September 2005.

Every region in the nation, other than the Midwest, showed a slowdown in sales in the most recent month. Still the trade group said the index was still at historically high levels.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Human Targets for Eco Activists

The League of Conservation voters is a great site for tracking the guys with the poorest environmental voting records. With offices in most states(they're big in NY but not yet in NJ), the LCV also tracks local and national bills and issues that can have the best chances of passing.

Through the Dirty Dozen, League of Conservation Voters identifies those currently holding federal office -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike -- who consistently vote against the environment, as part of its ongoing effort to educate voters about voting records. LCV targets selected members of this list for independent campaigns in competitive races.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Case of the Sunken Car

Here's a real local "cliffhanger": Bloomfield resident Scott Garder has his Honda slip off a 25 ft embankment and deep into the frigid waters of Greenwood Lake. He manages to climb out of the submerged car and hitch a ride back to his Bloomfield where he reports the accident. Only coverage so far was in a local Middletown NY paper: We're still waiting to see another newspaper fill in the blanks. Did he or the stranger who picked him up have a cell phone? Could he have dialed 911 (or AAA) earlier to retrieve the car? How crucial is the time factor? Bottom line he can expect to be ticketed for "Leaving the scene of an accident"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Want It Haunted? No Problem!

Definitely a niche market, but there is indeed a demand for certifiably haunted houses.
San Diego Paranormal has teamed up with Professional Licensed Real Estate Agents to match buyers and sellers of real haunted houses within the United States. Some people really want to have these types of homes and will pay extra for the added "house guests". The paperwork is handled by a licensed agent in your area and the transaction is done the same way as any home purchase. Serious replies only as all addresses are confidential.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Undergound Pioneer

Who knew we were that big in South Jersey, but Cherry Hill's John Pangia saw our last post and contributed a great link to neighbor Guru of the Underground -- Malcom Wells.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Moving Underground

From The Maryland Gazette:
"Just picture an upside down swimming pool,” said Bill Garay, owner of the underground home, as he described the way the home looked as it was being built. The Garays moved into their home is located in in Clinton, Maryland, a few months ago. The said they are very pleased with the final product.

The Garays decided to build the underground home for practical reasons. Both liked the strength of the construction, the natural shelter provided by being under the earth, the minimal costs of maintenance and repair, and the economic savings that come from reduced energy costs. Building the underground home costs slightly more than building a traditional home, but constructing the former took about twice as long as latter. The building cost was approximately $350,000, excluding the land.

‘‘This was an exciting project to be involved in. Everything we did, we had to find a new way of doing. We had to be innovative,” said Otis Johnson, the builder. The home took twice as long to complete because all of the interior work had to be custom fitted. The walls are curved inside the dome shaped exterior, but from inside, the home resembles any other.

‘‘When we first moved in, it felt a little different. But it’s not like you realize you’re underground. We’re not looking at windows covered with dirt and have earthworms looking back at us,” Bill Garay said, jokingly.

At its widest point, the house is between 50 to 60 feet in diameter, with slightly curved walls and high ceilings creating a dramatic effect from the inside.

Now that Johnson has constructed one underground home, he is anxious to build others, and already has inquiries from five other potential clients.

‘‘The energy costs are basically zero. We didn’t have to install any heat or air conditioning systems. The only heat in the house is a wood burning stove. Three feet of dirt cover the house, so the interior temperature is not controlled by the weather outside. I think once people start to see how energy efficient and how safe houses like this are, they will begin to become much more popular,” said Johnson.
As for the Garays, they are used to their house being a bit of a tourist attraction.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Living planet: facts and figures

The living planet: facts and figures
The planet's natural resources are being consumed faster than they can be replaced, according to the WWF.

If current trends continue two planets would be needed by 2050 to meet humanity's demands.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Living it Up Wild in Bloomfield

It ain't easy being a wildlife photographer in North Jersey. Especially if you live in Bloomfield and only focus on what passes by your back deck. Pat Ciesla shows us a few of the fauna that a dedicated amateur can capture-- without leaving her home off Liongate Drive(she admits to following the hawk a block or so down the road.). We've never featured this many pictures in one post, but hey...why not? (Click on smaller photos for larger image)

This happens to be part of the tract that The Bloomfield Third RiverBank Association is fighting to preserve against developers' plans to build upwards of 150 townhouses.

They're having a garden party fundraiser this Sunday from 4 to 7 at 96 Lakewood Terrace. For info call: 973-951-4339

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Make Your Own Local Map

It's been a while since we mentioned one of our most inspiring greenway sites:
It's the one with the elaborate county maps.
This time we've checked out the Interactive Map Link.
This can keep you up all night!