Toms River officials, reacting to a letter sent to Lavallette’s borough council by a resident’s attorney asking that several streets in the Ortley Beach section by succeeded by the borough, said they would not give in to such a request.
A copy of the letter, obtained by Shorebeat, asks that numerous streets near the Ortley-Lavallette border be transferred from Toms River’s jurisdiction to Lavallette’s. Lavallette has neither supported nor opposed the request, but officials have cited concerns over different zoning regulations between the two towns. In order for a jurisdictional change to occur, both towns would have to approve the measure. If Lavallette were to accept the proposal and Toms River opposed it, the matter would likely be settled in court. Toms River officials said Tuesday night that they would oppose any attempt by residents to leave the township. More than a decade ago, residents of one street, Bay Beach Way, successfully convinced a judge to allow them to be succeeded by Lavallette.
“I would be opposed to any move for secession,” said Councilman Maurice “Mo” Hill, who will become the township’s mayor Jan. 1. “We’ve been through that once in the North Beaches and I think it was a mistake. It wound up being $42 million in ratables lost to Lavallette on one street.”
The proposal, as detailed in the letter, would move the following streets into Lavallette’s jurisdiction:
- The south side of Brinley Avenue.
- The south and north sides of Haag Avenue.
- Both sides of Bay Boulevard between Brinley and Haag avenues.
- The south side of Trenton Avenue between Baltimore and Washington avenues.
- Washington Avenue between Brinley and Haag avenues.
Lavallette residents enjoy a significantly lower property tax burden than most Ortley Beach residences since the average assessment on a property in Ortley is higher than the township’s average, which takes into account the entire mainland portion. In Lavallette, which boasts the third-lowest property tax burden in the state, Ortley Beach properties would fall closer in line with the average assessment. Lavallette also operates a K-8 school district and sends high school students to Point Pleasant Beach where, likewise, property values are more similar in nature to Ortley Beach.
New Jersey courts have consistently denied requests for secession due to tax burdens, calling the practice “tax shopping,” but in the Bay Beach Way case cited the disconnection from the mainland and easier access to municipal services and first responders from Lavallette as reasons to allow the change. South Seaside Park has similarly been pushing to divorce itself from Berkeley Township.
The letter to Lavallette was written on behalf of an Ortley Beach resident by attorney John Paul Doyle, who previously represented the Bay Beach Way residents.
A continuing cause of consternation in Ortley Beach has centered on Trenton Avenue, which represents a dividing line between Toms River and Lavallette. Residents have complained that neither town takes proper care of the street due to the jurisdictional issues.
“We’ll take a look at the street too, and if we have to work out a deal with Lavallette, we will,” said Council President George Wittmann.
One Ortley Beach resident who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting indicated she would oppose a secession movement.
“I think any problems we have are spread amongst a much larger town,” said Pat Klaslow. “With a smaller town you could get hit with a much bigger bill.”