(Photo by Joe Strupp, Asbury Park Press)
Ron Dana erected the netting next to the Brielle, N.J. club’s property in 2018 without any permits. He faces four violations of the municipal code but has stymied efforts to get the “hideous mega-structure” taken down by requesting a variance.
For nearly 100 years, the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press reported, Manasquan River Golf Club in Brielle, N.J. has boasted pristine greens, lush fairways and a view of the river second to none (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/stronger-storm/).
Recently, however, the Press reported, that picturesque portrait has been obstructed by what many of the club’s members and neighbors call an eyesore: a giant golf net.
Ron Dana, who lives on Riverview Drive along the edge of the course, built the 65-foot by 130-foot netting in 2018, but without any permits or official approvals, the Press reported. He is facing four violations of the municipal code and has requested a variance to allow the net to remain while neighbors have launched a protest.
“It was done without any inspections or permits or variances by anyone,” Patricia Housen, who lives across the golf course from the net on Laurel Avenue, told the Press. “Was it done properly? How safe is it? Is it going to fall down tomorrow?”
Tony Mascia, another neighbor and a member of Manasquan River GC, said Dana should not object to golf balls near a golf course, “If you buy a house that is on a golf course, you sort of expect that to happen,” Mascia said. “It was done without consulting anyone.”
Added Robin Hackett, another neighbor, “I just don’t like looking at it. It does not fit in with Brielle and our community. And it’s a safety issue, too.”
Several neighbors have launched an online petition demanding that the net be removed, the Press reported. So far, it has garnered more than 200 names.
“The presence of this hideous mega-structure directly conflicts with the quaint and environmentally friendly image that the borough of Brielle prides itself on, as indicated on the borough’s own website,” the petition states.
Tom Hirsch, an attorney representing Manasquan River GC, told the Press that the net is inappropriate for the area. “The club’s position is that there is no basis in the land use law for allowing a variance for this type,” Hirsch said.
Borough zoning officials first issued a notice of violation on August 13, 2018, the Press reported, because the netting surpasses the township limits on fencing, which are between 6 and 12 feet, depending on the fence.
The notice stated, in part, that “the fence in question exceeds the maximum height of that which is permitted by borough ordinance,” the Press reported. It also noted that if the fence was not removed within 45 days, the landowner would be in violation and face municipal court charges.
When that deadline passed, Dana was issued four citations between October 16 and April 15, the Press reported. His court dates have been delayed, and the next is set for October 29.
Dana, who bought the house three years ago, has also filed an application for a variance to allow the net to remain, the Press reported. He did not respond to requests from the Press for comment, but his attorney, Keith Henderson, said he has the right to a net to protect his land and home.
“The problem exists that you’ve got to stop hundreds of balls from entering his property,” said Henderson, who claims several balls have gone through windows and landed when workers were on site. “It’s a dangerous situation, but there are ways to address it.”
Dana’s home was built in 1920, two years before the golf course, Henderson said, and at a time when golf equipment was not as powerful as it is today. Balls that would have never reached his client’s property 80 years ago now come barreling through, he said.
Dana never obtained permits or approvals because he did not think he needed them “to put up a safety net,” Henderson added.
The Brielle Planning Board met on June 11 to consider the issue and the violation, but came to no decision, the Press reported. It is not expected to consider it again until September 10 due to scheduling issues.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is investigating if the large netting violates any DEP standards because of its proximity to the river.
DEP documents indicate that no NJDEP land-use permit was obtained for the netting, the Press reported. Those documents also note that large stone anchors used to weigh down support ropes for the netting were placed along the riverside and may be an intrusion on the area’s wetlands.