Thursday, October 31, 2013

Long Beach Island, NJ Effectively Kills Modular Housing After Sandy

Even though Gov. Christie, FEMA and every one with common sense knows that modular housing is a great way to rebuild NJ after Hurricane Sandy's destructive hit last year, one township in NJ is now effectively stopping modular homes from being built. The people elected to power in Long Beach Township seem to be in the pocket of stick builders as they have enacted restrictions so harsh on modular home builders that they can't build there any longer.

A builder that has built many homes in Long Beach Township just sent me this email along with the ordinance that was put into effect in 2007 but was renewed with vigor on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. If this isn't discrimination against both builders and their customers, nothing is.

UPDATE: Interesting note, Joesph Mancini, who is currently mayor of Long Beach Township, is president and CEO of Mancini Realty Company, and president and CEO of Mancini Custom Homes, a stick builder.  Hmmmmm!

Let's hope this doesn't become a pattern in NJ!

First the email:
Sort of ironic that on the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, that I am informed by Long Beach Island Township of the "special" requirements for modular home construction.

I have attached a copy of the ordinances that I was directed to by Long Beach Island Township for modular construction.

The restrictions make it extremely difficult for a modular home to be constructed in this Township.  Apparently modular construction was "singled out" with special bonding and ordinance requirements which, at the very least, are discriminatory against modular construction.

First, a modular home builder must post a $5,000 bond whereas a stick builder does not.  When asked why, I was advised in case the modular units cause damage during delivery to the work site.  I asked if the same requirement applied to lumber deliveries, concrete deliveries or any other construction product deliveries - I was told only modular units. I asked them what would happen if a concrete truck or lumber truck caused damage during a material delivery - I didn't get an answer.

You also can't store modular units at anytime anywhere in the LBI but the storage of other construction materials for stick builders is just fine.

If you require a street closing permit, you can't perform any construction on a a modular home between June 15th and September 15th.

There is a window between 7AM to 10AM for the modular builder to have all the modular units delivered to the work site from over the LBI bridge - very difficult, if not impossible, if you have to store all the units off LBI.  Then, if you block the street by bringing over all the units - you would of course need a street closing permit.  In any other Town we would bring one unit at a time so not to obstruct the street.  If we were to obstruct the street, we would contact the Town and hire traffic control well in advance of the set.

They also only allow you a one hour window to deliver the units from the scheduled time.  It's just fine for any other building material deliveries to happen during normal business hours without this one hour restriction or any other "special" conditions.

And if I violate the ordinance, I could be subject to a fine not to exceed $2,000, a jail term of up to 90 days or perform up to 90 days of community service.

We build day in and day out in Chadwick Beach, Lavallette, Ocean Beach, Ortley Beach, Surf City and Seaside Park without any "special" conditions - we are required to meet the same conditions as all other contractors which is fair.

We have three jobs in LBI - one that we intended to go in for permit within the next several days.  Due to the above "special" conditions, I don't know if we can build this home without violating LBI's "special" ordinances for modular construction.  If I was a stick builder - no problem at all.

I am all for playing by the rules - but everyone should be following the same rule book.
Here is the ordinance:


Anonymous said...

The town of Arlington, MA requires a $100,000 bond on the transport of modules through their town. Most surety bonds are 2% to 3% of bonded amount. . . . this amounts to $2000 to $3000 added charge to the homeowner because they're building modular.

Tom Hardiman said...

Hi Coach, I have messages in with multiple departments at LBI Township. Its challenging identifying, tracking and trying to minimize interference from the state level regulations, let alone city ordinances. I think as modular gains in popularity and acceptance among the public, we are going to see more of these battles at the state and local levels. Its about protecting their status quo. Someone recently posted on another story about how the legislative and regulatory issues have largely been dealt with. I couldn't disagree more. I have never seen the regulatory climate this bad in my ten years of industry advocacy, especially in the NE.

Anonymous said...

This is why trade associations can be valuable. Evidently, there is not one to represent us in NJ?

Coach said...

The MBSA is again gathering strength to work for everything modular. Tom Hardiman, the Executive Director, is aware of this situation and has already started to get answers.

If you want to belong to an organization dedicated to modular housing, this is the one to join.

Tom Hardiman said...

Careful Gary, you don't want to be accused of drinking more kool aid! In all seriousness, this is one of the main reasons associations exist. Yes I would like your readers to join MBSA, but by all means, join and support the organization(s) you feel will best serve your industry and don't sit on the sidelines. There are far too many issues and opportunities at stake.

Anonymous said...

Any reason you don't post LBI's phone numbers and address so we can call in/write in and pester er, I mean "push" for answers?

We live in a democracy. In order for change to occur, voices must ring out. And loud. What they are doing is patently ridiculous.

LBI has started a fight. We should bring it to them. Light up their phones and join MBSA!

Coach said...

Hold on Anonymous. Sounds like somebody has been guzzling the MBSA koolade.

I think if change is to be made to allow more modulars into LBI, especially after Sandy, we need to let Tom and his MBSA team continue their efforts.

Anonymous said...

The only way anything gets done in WashDC is when political aides and chiefs of staff get their phones and email servers blown up with overwhelming traffic. I'm inclined to say the folks in LBI work the same was as our DC "leaders".

I say lite 'em up.

Tom Hardiman said...

I do think this calls for a little more strategy vs. lighting up their phone lines. I will gladly host a conference call for anyone wanting to weigh in and put a plan of action together. email me at if you are interested and I'll pull it together for next week.