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Beachwood Shopping Center Owner Being Fined $40,000 A Day For Numerous Violations

Owner can still appeal fines, Township Council president says

The meter is running.

Beachwood Shopping Center owner Priscilla Oughton is now facing fines of $40,000 a day for the condition of the battered plaza on Route 9 South in Bayville.

The entire perimeter of the shopping center is now fenced in, so vehicles and pedestrians cannot get near the battered stores and parking lot with sinkholes.

"There's a lot of challenges presented by that particular structure," Township Attorney Lauren Staiger said after a resident asked about the status of the shopping center.

The shopping center - a longtime eyesore off the busy highway - has been vacant for years. Township Fire Official Jack Wiegartner ordered a number of corrective actions be taken after a vacant store in the strip mall caught fire during the height of Hurricane Sandy.

He ordered owner Priscilla Oughton to take a number of corrective actions immediately, including vacating the shopping center, removing the structures, demolishing the structures and removing all debris.

There were eight violations in total. Oughton is being fined $5,000 a day for each one, Township Council President James J. Byrnes said after the Dec. 27 council meeting.

Oughton is the daughter of the late James E. Johnson, who built the shopping center decades ago. She lives in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea in Florida.

Oughton's attorney, Michael J. McCalley, countered with a Nov. 21 letter to township officials

"As you are well aware, Ocean County was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy," McCalley said in the Nov. 21 letter to township officials. "The damage referred to in the cover letter to the Notice of Violation appears to be a direct consequence of the storm."

McCalley said granting a hearing and giving Beachwood Mall LLC more time to assess the storm damage is "both necessary and appropriate."

Byrnes said after the council meeting that Oughton can appeal the violations and the fines before the Ocean County Construction Board of Appeals.

The Beachwood Shopping Center is ground zero in the township's massive redevelopment plan, which was approved by the state Planning Commission early last July.

But Donato Donofrio, the redeveloper of record, informed township officials earlier this month he was no longer interested in developing the site because of the poor economy.

The news was a blow to ratable-poor Berkeley and the redevelopment plan. Amato has said the township's primary focus on the site will be code enforcement for the near future, until another redeveloper can be found.

tom walker December 29, 2012 at 04:16 PM
mrs oghton should have donated the property to berkley township years ago and saved herself a lot of money AND got a nice tax break for her kind actions. i smell a rat
Marina December 29, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Towns will use emminent domains to steal peoples home for private development (Look at Long Branch) Why can't Beachwood use it here? I'm betting their worried they'll get stuck with the cost to clean up the contamination and demolition. And with wealth comes the ability to buy one lawyer that will delay everything. AND make a sizable donation to a public official to make this go away. The damage to this eyesore had nothing to do with Sandy, it was NEGLECT by Patricia Johnson Oughton.
Mattie December 29, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Bingo! I said this a month ago: 6:47 pm on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 Probably wants to try and collect insurance money on all the "hurricane damage" before tearing the whole darn crap-fest down. The Johnson family should be ashamed of themselves...nothing but money grubbin' slumlords.
Beachweird December 29, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Funny, but somehow the fence does make it look better.
Berkeley proud January 01, 2013 at 03:32 PM
At over 62 million dollars to demolish and clean up the contamination. It is no wonder they keep putting off demolishing it. It seems wrong that they are blaming the sandy storm for damaging that wreck of a building the owner has the means to do what needs to be done but gets away with not doing anything because of her donations or family or political ties to Bayville and that is flat out wrong. They even blocked the locker street access from mizzen avenue to gladney avenue. Which now ffurther causes more traffic problems on rt 9 not to mention what they are doing to de winder Weiner and that the only source of income there. It's a crying Shane. If it were me or you mr/mrs John public. We would. Be forced out or be maid to cure in thirty days!!! I hope there is no corruption going mm

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