Brielle man’s 65-foot golf net rejected by planning board, but it’s not gone yet


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A Brielle man who constructed a 60-foot net to keep golf balls away from his house is being challenged by the planning board and neighbors.
Joe Strupp, Asbury Park Press

BRIELLE – A neighbor of the Manasquan River Golf Club who built a 65-foot high net to keep flying golf balls off his land was ordered to remove the structure after the Planning Board denied his request for a variance to keep it up.

But the driving-range sized netting, which has been in place for more than a year, will not have to be removed for at least two months while the decision is possibly appealed.

The unanimous planning board rejection occurred on Oct. 8 after several neighbors claimed the netting was an eyesore and negatively affected their community.

“It has to be in the public good and serve the public interest,” Planning Board Chairman Tom Condon said about the reasons needed for receiving a variance. “And in this case, it is not serving the public interest, it is serving only the applicant’s interest.”

One resident’s giant golf net along the Manasquan River Golf Club is drawing opposition from neighbors who call it an eyesore. (Photo: Joe Strupp)

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That applicant is Ron Dana, who lives on Riverview Drive along the edge of the course, and who built the 65-foot-by-130-foot netting in 2018, but without any permits or official approvals. He is also facing four violations of the municipal code and requested the variance to allow the net to remain while neighbors launched a protest.

Earlier: Brielle man built 65-foot net to stop golf balls; neighbors aren’t happy

More: Brielle residents oppose giant golf net

“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, said in July when the issue first reached the planning board. “Was it done properly? How safe is it? Is it going to fall down tomorrow?”

She was one of several neighbors who opposed the net and requested its removal. They even launched an online petition demanding that the net be removed that had garnered more than 200 names as of Monday.

“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.

Manasquan River Golf Club opposes the giant golf net placed by neighbor Ron Dana on his adjacent land. (Photo: Joe Strupp)

Tom Hirsch, an attorney representing the golf club, said the net was 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,” he said.

Dana could not be reached for comment Monday.

Borough zoning officials issued a notice of violation on Aug. 13, 2018, because the netting surpassed the township limits on fencing, which are between 6 and 12 feet, depending on the fence.

The notice stated, in part, “the fence in question exceeds the maximum height of that which is permitted by borough ordinance.” 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 Oct. 16, 2018, and April 15, 2019. His court dates have been delayed and the next is set for Oct. 29.

His attorney, Keith Henderson, said last summer that 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. It’s a dangerous situation but there are ways to address it.”

Henderson, who could not be reached for comment Monday, said previously that the home was built in 1920, two years before the golf course, and at a time when golf equipment was not as powerful as it is today. He said balls that would have never reached his client’s property 80 years ago now come barreling through.

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He also said Dana never obtained permits or approvals because he did not think he needed them “to put up a safety net.”

The Brielle Planning Board first met June 11 to consider the issue and the violation but came to no decision. It did not take up the matter again until last week.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was investigating if the large netting violated any DEP standards because of its proximity to the river.

But the net will not have to be removed anytime soon, Condon said. He said the planning board must vote again at its Nov. 12 meeting to officially memorialize the earlier ruling. Dana will then have 45 days from that point to appeal the decision to the Monmouth County Board of Adjustment.

“I’m confident that the actions of the planning board will be upheld by Monmouth County,” Condon said. “I listened to the testimony, both the applicant’s experts as well as the objector’s experts. My conclusion was the same as the other members.”

Joe Strupp is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience who covers education and Monmouth County for APP.com and the Asbury Park Press. He is also the author of two books, including Killing Journalism on the state of the news media. Reach him at jstrupp@gannettnj.com and at 732-643-4277. Follow him on Twitter at @joestrupp

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