Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tales of Avalon

Driving along the Garden State Parkway, you can appreciate the natural feel of the highway. Trees are planted along both sides of the highway with a wide meridian designed to mitigate the glare of oncoming traffic. Nearby development is mostly hidden from view by trees and grassy knolls. You can almost forget you’re driving in “The Soprano State” until there’s a sudden break in the scenery and you’re struck by the Avalon at Aberdeen Station apartment complex overlooking the parkway. How did that get there?

In July, 1998, longtime local, Joe Rettagliata, was in danger of losing a thirteen-acre parcel of land in a property tax foreclosure proceeding. (The actual size of the property is up for debate. Discounting the parcel later sold by the New Jersey Highway Authority, the CME tax maps list the property at 16 acres while the T&M survey only shows 13 acres. Go figure.) He had owned the land for fourteen years but was never able to develop the property despite its proximity to the train station and highway. Sadly, his was a familiar story. Three years later, the township seized several properties that had been “abandoned” by their owners, including the Ernest Zobel property that is now part of the transit village development project.

But Joe Rettagliata had a sudden change of heart and, with it, a change of fortune. The following year, he settled his tax lien. Four months later, Aberdeen Township declared the area part of a redevelopment zone. The following year, after nearly forfeiting the property over $8,500 in annual property taxes, Rettagliata sold the land for $4 million. Nobody has suggested that Rettagliata benefited from being the chairman of the Monmouth County Planning Board but it certainly didn’t hurt.

The Developer’s Agreement for the property (then known as Jefferson at Aberdeen) included three payments unique to the development (pages 9 and 11) – “$39,000 for the construction of the Henry Hudson Trail”, “$100,000 towards the traffic signalization of the intersection of Lower Main Street and Gerard Avenue”, and “$75,000 to the Township’s fire company which will service the development to enable the fire company to purchase appropriate equipment to better serve the safety needs of the development and the Township.”

The $39,000 for the Henry Hudson Trail and the $100,000 for the traffic signal are sitting quietly in the bank; the trail is entirely owned by the county and the township never contributed anything towards the traffic signal. As for the $75,000, it’s interesting that there’s no formal fire department review anywhere in the file pertaining to the development. Even more interesting is how the money was used to “better serve the safety needs of the development and the Township.” Nearly the entire wad was blown on two red Ford Expeditions.

Another interesting facet of the file is that it only records a single engineering fee. It seems inconceivable that during the entire development, CME only issued one letter pertaining to payments. More disturbing is the letter on file. When SC Aberdeen (one of the owners) sought to have a maintenance property bond released in 2006, CME demanded a “cash contribution of $39,750” (page 1). The following week, SC Aberdeen sent a check for $37,300 (page 2). What happened to other $2,450? Undoubtedly, this is a pittance compared to the scale of the project but it is also the only payment on file that involves CME Associates.

From the township’s perspective, the development made financial sense. The 290 1-2 bedroom luxury apartments attract empty nesters and generate about $950,000 in annual tax revenue. On the downside are the COAH obligations – 38 affordable housing units, about half of which would go to the elderly. Of the remaining 19 units (including regional contribution agreements if they’re still permitted), plus the handful of kids from the apartment complex, we could expect about 25 children. At $16,000 a kid, it would cost $400,000 a year to educate them. That still leaves over half a million dollars in added tax revenue (not to mention the COAH units were never built).

On a final note, it was fun to review the Jefferson’s request to display a large rental sign overlooking the parkway. The parkway authority and township planner both objected to the sign, citing aesthetics, safety, and statute. The town planning board noted the objections but awarded the variance out of concern for the developer’s ability to rent apartments. Good to know the planning board knows who butters their bagel.
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Anonymous said...

Wasn't Kauff the Township Attorney when all of this happened? Didn't Retaglia work for the Monmouth County Sewer Authority that reviewed the plans? I think you only hit the tip of the iceberg. Good start!

Anonymous said...

Wait just a Norman Kauff minute.

Are you suggesting that Norman Kauff, Mark Corren and the leadership of Aberdeen did something that was not above board and may have been in fact illegal?

Next thing you will be telling me that Norman Kauff, Mark Corren and perhaps others were instrumental in all of the variances granted for this project and that the Democratic parties #1 benefactors CME made money on this also.

After that you will be telling me that Norman Kauff, Mark Corren and others got sweetheart deals on condos in complexes they approved and controlled the variance approvals on. Would that be the same condo complexes just off Highway 34 in Aberdeen. Maybe that is how Councilman Nick got his condo by learning at the feet of Kauff and Corren the real estate moguls that they are?

Very interesting.

Didn't Kauff retire not long after the Rettagliata windfall. I am sure that is just a coincidence. Right?
And isn't Rettagliata a republican?

And people say that Norman Kauff and Mark Corren did not like working with republicans. I guess Rettagliata changed all of that?

Next thing you are going to tell me is that Norman Kauff and the Aberdeen Town Council and the other greedy rat bastards who are working with a convicted felon on the train station redevelopment project?

Lets see a convicted felon, a underhanded and former town attorney, a greedy and overpriced politically connected engineering firm, a politically controlled approval process and legal representation that looks the other way.

Yup I am still in New Jersey. Just checking?

Who says Aberdeen is a sleepy bedroom community?

Anonymous said...

Kenny I am laughing so much at your post I am crying.

If it wasn't so sad and costly to the residents of Aberdeen I would still be laughing.

Unfortunately the only ones laughing are Kauff and the rest of his crew.

I know without a shred of doubt that Coren hated the republican controlled council in Matawan.

So as far as working cohesively with republicans there had to be a big payoff for Kauff and Coren.

But that would be illegal and easily investigated. One would think. Perhaps if Prosecutor Valentin would just look O'h I forgot what county I live in.

Never mind.

Anonymous said...

Just in case he feels left out.

I am certain that Vinny "what is in it for me" Vinci was a part of this whole very questionable and all too familiar process. I mean after all Vinci only lives about five hundred yards away on his recently enlarged palatial estate "Casa Greedy uno" Councilman Vinci's estate which recently was significantly enlarged thanks to two $1.00 land sales by the Township of Aberdeen and the Garden State Parkway Authority. No conflict there for Councilman Vinci the hard working public servant.

I have to go I will be right back.

I'm back. I had to go throw up.

That happens every time I put the words Councilman Vinci and hard working public servant in the same sentence.

Don't look for any legal review or expert legal opinion on the terms "conflict of interest" from the purported legal minds of Aberdeen on the Vinci land deal or this latest disclosure of Kauff and Co.. The boys at Rogurt McCarthy Troy Attorneys at Law took care of that I am sure. No legal opinion either from the Rogurt McCarthy Troy "of counsel" partner Norman Kauff.

Once again no conflict of interest there either for Norman Kauff. Just good old fashioned pay to play Norman Kauff style.

Right Norm?

Dinner time.

Middlesex Jim

Anonymous said...

Isn't Sharpe James going to jail for something like this? I don't even think that's James' profit margin was this large.

Walks like a duck ...

Anonymous said...

What a topic and once again with attachments as proof. Great!

How many posts do you think this one will garner? The numbers go off of the charts anytime subjects like this come up on the Aberdeener.

Some are calling for restraint on the Aberdeener blogosphere. I am calling for more and more. Pile it on and make them really really uncomfortable.

I did not understand the firefly reference in a prior subject post. I do agree the taxpayers are in a war against pay to play and those who control the purse strings.

The more leaders have to read in the public domain and then have to respond to the questions from Aberdeen residents the better.

I should also report that while going to pay a bill at town hall today I think I may have seen the infamous Norman Kauff. He was coming out of town hall and getting into a nice silver colored four door. The car matched his silver hair nicely I do have to say. I always had a weakness for older men. Don't tell my husband.

Got to run.

God forbid I get a minute to myself. Calgon take me away. I need some chocolate at least to hold me over.

Anonymous said...

New blood on the scene.

Sharpe James is the poster boy for Pay to Play in New Jersey. Now only today they are talking of Chris Christy running against John Corzine. It will not be Corzine that will be running for Governor against Christy in a couple of years. It is very simple as Corzine the political sell out and poster boy for ignorant and limousine liberal politicians, is soon to be on his way to Washington with Barack O Bama. You see John Corzine the purported genius of Goldman Sachs is not so much of a genius as a Governor either.

The Democrats are soon to pull a bait and switch with that old fool Lautenberg. Lautenberg a failure from the first day in office who needs to be put in a home for the ignorantly and pompously rich. All of those years in DC and what did he get for NJ? Nothing, we are dead last in $s returned to our state.

On a local level our financial genius Norman Kauff needs a good swift kick. I must have missed his political handouts when he ran for office several elections ago.

What is that? My wife is yelling at me. She says Norman Kauff never was elected to ruin, oops I mean run Aberdeen. Then why is he...

I too forgot this is New Jersey.

Sorry for waisting your time. Sometimes I wonder why I left Brooklyn. I cannot afford to move back, which I regret deeply.

Anybody know anyone who wants to swap houses? Let me know.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember a few months ago a comment mentioned those two explorers. One was supposed to go to the beach side of town but both wound up at Vinci's fire company. And to boot one is being driven by a retired fire official.

Anonymous said...

This is not the smoking gun. The MONEY is everything.

Follow the money.

Who owned what and when. Who helped who and when and for how much.

These are the important things.

And once and for all it is two Ford Expeditions. Yes the Fire dept. got two Ford Expeditions.

What needs to be looked into officially is what was allowed, overlooked, or expanded on that site which precipitated the two Ford Expeditions and worse.

Did CME say one thing and then Kauff and Corren get them to change their minds and expand the density, height, location or more allowed.

And do not think for one minute that Councilman Vinci was not all over this one.

Whether it be Councilman Vinci, Fire Commissioner Vinci or "what is in it for me" Vinci he was there every step of the way. His ego and wallet would not have allowed otherwise.

Just one of them stand up and tell us or prove to us we are wrong.
I laugh every time I see him and think to myself Vinci thinks it is one or two people providing this information on him and the rest. If he only knew the numbers of people that contact the Aberdeener. The taxpayers know and as the song says "the times they are a changing".

They all need to realize the numbers of very dissatisfied people with corrupt and immoral politicians is growing and is about to get very public and very soon.

Aberdeener said...


Thanks for the correction regarding the expeditions (not explorers). I've corrected the article.

Anonymous said...

I think it is time to take up donations and arrange a mass mailing of a postcard with just five or so examples to start off. A postcard detailing the corrupt actions, secret land deals, Kauff involvement and more that burdens Aberdeen.

Start with the money paid to the connected firms and CME that they refuse to go out to bid on. on a side note there is an article in the APP today on bidding for governmental services and concerns of the same accountants doing the same work without a bidding process.

I have to agree the times they are changing. It cannot come soon enough for us.

The truth shall set us free.

And we all know that politicians hate the truth.

It is the ultimate oxi-moron.

Politics------- Truth.

Good day.

Anonymous said...

I'm back. What did I miss?

FRom looking at the blog I see that once again our local political leadership and their handlers are still being shown for the scum they are.

From the article and the input it seems their is a whole lot of circumstantial evidence with Avalon.

I Looked to rent at that place when it was JPI. I think with all of the changing of ownership and the Norman *just so coincidental* connection and favors done to another connected politician coupled with the fact that Norman Kauff and the former Township Manager controlled and hand crafted every aspect of the entire project with a CME rubber stamp and the CME inflated bills and more. It seems prime for an investigation.

They shoot elephants don't they? Maybe it is time someone took a shot and who knows maybe just maybe it will turn over the right stone. Or perhaps even turn the right defendant against another defendant in another highly publicized sweep of crooked politicians.

Maybe that is Prosecutor Valentin's problem he does not want that to happen on his watch.

We shall see.

Jail is not a pretty place.

By the way anything going on with the development planned near me at the end of County Road? Let me know if anyone hears anything.

Anonymous said...

What seats or positions are up for vote this year?

I find this whole thing disgraceful. I saw that for rent sign, one of the few on the pway like that. I can't believe that all the town gets in 950k a year before school funding? WOW. NO HENRY HUDSON EXTENSION and NO other development- like a park that meets those woods?

Just when you think conditions cannot get worse. Things can only go up from here.

Donations for post cards ? I'm in. People in town just dont know what is going on here. Tell a friend to take a look. I have told at least 10 people to check this thing out. I do not agree with all Aberdeener opinions, the conversations and information is stimulating.

Aberdeener, there are sites you can go to, and get cheap stickers -what about your blog name only and maybe they will "turn up" all over town......

Sorry kimsmom..........


Anonymous said...

This is a shame.
I agree, only 950k for LUXURY apts.

Shady I am sure.

Funny anonymous........

What about the transit village that someone mentioned. We can take land that was dormant for years and build luxury apys. in months yet cannot build a transit viallge over 5 years time that will create more tax relief???

oh god

Anonymous said...

Joseph Criscuolo as new Township Manager, he is from Old Bridge, doesn't CME have ties with Old Bridge? Any info?

Aberdeener said...

The average household pays around $6,000 per year in property taxes. The average apartment at the Avalon is paying nearly $3,300.

Considering you likely have to offer some form of PILOT program to encourage development, what would be an appropriate level of taxation that would still be an inducement to build?

I think the PILOT program was a good deal for the township.

Aberdeener said...

Old Bridge has four ordinances against pay-to-play.

Mr. Criscuolo may be in for a shock.

Anonymous said...

New Twp. Manager needs to be put under the microscope.

Lets see what our leadership considers qualifications, experience and professionalism.

I am betting of the connection to CME and the fact that Old Bridge being one of the most corrupt towns in Middlesex County as being the qualifications, experience and professionalism our leadership needed for their latest puppet.

Anonymous said...

Does this guy have any college degrees? APP didn't mention. Not that college is needed for everything; but wasn't that a requirement in the job application? Can we get his resume posted on here?

Anonymous said...

Avalon aka. Jefferson

In addition to the financial gamesmanship mentioned by the Aberdeener; the new approach shown by the council on this project is P.I.L.O.T or Payment In Lieu Of Taxes. This was a brilliant scheme to keep the lion's share of the tax revenue for the municipality, and send a pittance to the Board of Education.

PILOT allowed the council to keep municipal tax increases artificially low; then blame the schools for all of the tax increases at election time. I would be interested to know how many children are living in Avalon. At $12,000 a child, what is it really costing us?



What is his compensation? Did anyone hear about it? Nothing on the website except the press release.

Hey council members! Can you tell me when your next meeting is? It should be the 19th, but it is not posted. How about posting the minutes on the website? I have not seen any since Mr. Brown left as manager. Are you afraid to let the people see them?

If you are not too busy working on the next no bid contract. Can you get someone to update the website?

Anonymous said...

I beleive he went to Seten Hall.


Anonymous said...

seton hall that is


Anonymous said...

Aberdeen hires new township manager
By Sametta M. Thompson • KEYPORT BUREAU • August 14, 2008

ABERDEEN — Joseph Criscuolo, the assistant business administrator in Old Bridge, will take over as township manager here Sept. 8.

Criscuolo, 49, will receive $115,000 a year.

Anonymous said...

The article says he managed Old Bridge's capital projects - explains how CME was able to give a stamp of approval. Team Kauff rules!

Anonymous said...

As previously stated on the Aberdeener it is time to put your newly hired manager under the microscope.

Anybody know anyone who works in Old Bridge?

Anyone know the past history of CME involvement with Old Bridge?

Anyone know anything about this guys education or management style?

Anybody know anything other than Kauff and CME?

I think I just answered my own question?

Here you go again Aberdeen.

The grass may not be always greener on the other side. Those who worked so hard to oust your former Township Manager may soon be wishing he had never left.

Sure their will undoubtedly soon be a response to my posting from some of those who helped Kauff and Crew get rid of the other guy.

Who cares?

Not Me. I have my own Mullaney to worry about.

Middlesex Jim

Anonymous said...

Seton Hall? As in attended (no degree), Associates, or BA? It's just curious the article didn't mention anything about his education.

Anonymous said...

I just saw the Agenda for Tuesday, August 19, 2008 Council Meeting. The Consent Agenda is a Pay-to-Play pay day! It looks like all contributors to the Aberdeen Democrat Executive Committee are being rewarded. I heard that Kauff was in the parking lot of Town Hall yelling - It's good to be the King. How does an independent auditor stay independent when his livelihood is based on keeping Scudiery and Kauff happy?

D. CONSENT AGENDA - All items listed under 8D are considered to be routine by the Township Council and will be enacted by one motion. There will be no separate discussion on these items. If discussion is desired, that item will be removed from the Consent Agenda and will be considered separately.

1. RESOLUTION NO. 2008-97 – BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council that it hereby authorizes Mayor and Clerk to execute an agreement with CME Associates for engineering services for year 2008.

2. RESOLUTION NO. 2008-98 – BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council that it hereby authorizes Mayor and Clerk to execute an agreement with Rogut McCarthy LLC for Township Attorney services for year 2008.

3. RESOLUTION NO. 2008-99 – BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council that it hereby authorizes Mayor and Clerk to execute an agreement with Coppola & Coppola for COAH planning services for year 2008.

4. RESOLUTION NO. 2008-100 – BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council that it hereby authorizes Mayor and Clerk to execute an agreement with Coppola & Coppola for planning services for year 2008.

5. RESOLUTION NO. 2008-101 – BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council that it hereby authorizes Mayor and Clerk to execute an agreement with Fallon & Larsen LLP for auditing services for year 2008.

Anonymous said...

All of Norm's little bitches get their jobs awarded just before Norm's latest stooge hits the ground running.

No one cares. Just let Norm have his way until he dies and all we will have to worry about then is
the idiot Norm put in charge of the indictment--I mean Democratic Prty of Aberdeen.

F U Norman !

Anonymous said...

U C Brother sounds as though he is getting a little tired of Kauff's BS.

Join the club.

F U Norman