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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.

Irina December 28, 2012 at 04:32 PM
It's about time! This eyesore should've been gone years ago. BUT a nice donation from Ms Money-bags Pricilla Johnson-Oughton, this will be swept under the rug AGAIN!!!!!
Mary Megs Tilton December 28, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Agreed! Enough with the bureaucracy and the nonsense! This should have been bulldozed a long time ago, and something useful put in! This has gone on long enough!!
Fedup December 28, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I heard they don't want to demolish the building until they find the $500,000 in gold and silver coins the old-man reportedly hid in one of the stores when he built the place.
WhyohWhy December 28, 2012 at 05:54 PM
OK, so her lawyer is going to try an say that the alot of the damage was done by "Sandy" and it needs to NOW be evaluated? Over a month after the storm, NOW she is going to evaluate and access it? I think its a stall tactic and I hope Berkeley Township doesn't fall for it. This was run down and an eyesore WAY before the storm. And she was give notice about it Looong before the storm. I wonder, if and when she appeals the fines will she still be liable for the daily fine until its settled? I don't think this should subject to an appeal because of how long she has been getting away with it.
Nj Ghost December 28, 2012 at 06:32 PM
O.K. so it's an eyesore and a hazard and should be addressed by re construction or removed. Two of the previous comments are lending themselves to that fact. However, the remaining two seem to indicate that her crime, if it is a crime, is that she and her family is wealthy......well which is it? Is she just too wealthy or that she just doesn't care and tries to get away with neglect? Much blame is put on the seemingly wealthy as if it were a crime to be so.
Eric December 28, 2012 at 07:12 PM
To be wealthy is not a crime to wealthy and think you are above the law because of your money, and don't have to follow rules like the rest of society should be.
suz December 28, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Oh come on now...the point should not be if she is wealthy or not! She just needs to take care of the eyesore. I personally don't give a rats behind if she has $...she just needs to address her responsibilities.
Beachweird December 28, 2012 at 07:26 PM
The only person who is suggesting that wealth = crime is you. She does not TRY to get away with neglect, she IS getting away with neglect. Now that you have read this you can go back to watching Fox News. Have a nice day.
lacey voter December 28, 2012 at 08:15 PM
This place was a garbage hole since 1960 when I moved down here
Nj Ghost December 28, 2012 at 08:34 PM
@ beachweird.....I won't get into the meaning of your chosen screen name....Re Read my comment....It didn't avoid the fact that it must be taken care of....however 50% of the previous comments were infact about the wealth of the person involved and that's a fact...Now go back to watching Mess nbc like a good little tyke [[[[ patting" beachweird" on the top of head]]]]]
Sandra December 28, 2012 at 09:54 PM
The owners lawyer can "boo-hoo" to their insurance company over the damage if they want. The rest of us want it GONE! Clean-up and Pay-up...or just get rid of it and most of us would be happy with that.
barb December 28, 2012 at 10:38 PM
I'll be AMAZED if Bayville sees one dime of that money, no way, not going to happen. Can't it just be bulldozed? I'll bet people would volunteer!!
George December 28, 2012 at 11:42 PM
The comments concerning her wealth refered to her ability to pay for the repairs needed on the property. Even the losers at the FOXIE News Network would agree with that.
Sandra December 29, 2012 at 01:14 AM
The fence is an improvement to the old shopping center. Thank you Santa for the "trimmings".
edward pearce December 29, 2012 at 02:50 AM
wheres donald trump when you need him?
Keeping whats mine December 29, 2012 at 01:10 PM
More Blah blah blah. Just flatten the place.
JackScratch December 29, 2012 at 02:39 PM
This is what the emminent domains laws were designed for. Why haven't the local elected officials started proceedings to acquuire this property, demolish it and construct what isplanned for the public good?
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
Irina 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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