Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Case of the Sunken Car

Here's a real local "cliffhanger": Bloomfield resident Scott Garder has his Honda slip off a 25 ft embankment and deep into the frigid waters of Greenwood Lake. He manages to climb out of the submerged car and hitch a ride back to his Bloomfield where he reports the accident. Only coverage so far was in a local Middletown NY paper: We're still waiting to see another newspaper fill in the blanks. Did he or the stranger who picked him up have a cell phone? Could he have dialed 911 (or AAA) earlier to retrieve the car? How crucial is the time factor? Bottom line he can expect to be ticketed for "Leaving the scene of an accident"

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Want It Haunted? No Problem!

Definitely a niche market, but there is indeed a demand for certifiably haunted houses.
San Diego Paranormal has teamed up with Professional Licensed Real Estate Agents to match buyers and sellers of real haunted houses within the United States. Some people really want to have these types of homes and will pay extra for the added "house guests". The paperwork is handled by a licensed agent in your area and the transaction is done the same way as any home purchase. Serious replies only as all addresses are confidential.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Undergound Pioneer

Who knew we were that big in South Jersey, but Cherry Hill's John Pangia saw our last post and contributed a great link to neighbor Guru of the Underground -- Malcom Wells.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Moving Underground

From The Maryland Gazette:
"Just picture an upside down swimming pool,” said Bill Garay, owner of the underground home, as he described the way the home looked as it was being built. The Garays moved into their home is located in in Clinton, Maryland, a few months ago. The said they are very pleased with the final product.

The Garays decided to build the underground home for practical reasons. Both liked the strength of the construction, the natural shelter provided by being under the earth, the minimal costs of maintenance and repair, and the economic savings that come from reduced energy costs. Building the underground home costs slightly more than building a traditional home, but constructing the former took about twice as long as latter. The building cost was approximately $350,000, excluding the land.

‘‘This was an exciting project to be involved in. Everything we did, we had to find a new way of doing. We had to be innovative,” said Otis Johnson, the builder. The home took twice as long to complete because all of the interior work had to be custom fitted. The walls are curved inside the dome shaped exterior, but from inside, the home resembles any other.

‘‘When we first moved in, it felt a little different. But it’s not like you realize you’re underground. We’re not looking at windows covered with dirt and have earthworms looking back at us,” Bill Garay said, jokingly.

At its widest point, the house is between 50 to 60 feet in diameter, with slightly curved walls and high ceilings creating a dramatic effect from the inside.

Now that Johnson has constructed one underground home, he is anxious to build others, and already has inquiries from five other potential clients.

‘‘The energy costs are basically zero. We didn’t have to install any heat or air conditioning systems. The only heat in the house is a wood burning stove. Three feet of dirt cover the house, so the interior temperature is not controlled by the weather outside. I think once people start to see how energy efficient and how safe houses like this are, they will begin to become much more popular,” said Johnson.
As for the Garays, they are used to their house being a bit of a tourist attraction.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Living planet: facts and figures

The living planet: facts and figures
The planet's natural resources are being consumed faster than they can be replaced, according to the WWF.

If current trends continue two planets would be needed by 2050 to meet humanity's demands.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Living it Up Wild in Bloomfield

It ain't easy being a wildlife photographer in North Jersey. Especially if you live in Bloomfield and only focus on what passes by your back deck. Pat Ciesla shows us a few of the fauna that a dedicated amateur can capture-- without leaving her home off Liongate Drive(she admits to following the hawk a block or so down the road.). We've never featured this many pictures in one post, but hey...why not? (Click on smaller photos for larger image)

This happens to be part of the tract that The Bloomfield Third RiverBank Association is fighting to preserve against developers' plans to build upwards of 150 townhouses.

They're having a garden party fundraiser this Sunday from 4 to 7 at 96 Lakewood Terrace. For info call: 973-951-4339

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Make Your Own Local Map

It's been a while since we mentioned one of our most inspiring greenway sites:
It's the one with the elaborate county maps.
This time we've checked out the Interactive Map Link.
This can keep you up all night!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

North Jersey Housing Inventory Update

Posted by James Bednar under North Jersey Real Estate:

GSMLS - http://www.gsmls.com
(Garden State Multiple Listing Service)
Single Family Homes, Condo, Coop
(Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, Warren Counties)

10/11 - 19,084
10/18 - 19,035 (0.3% Decrease)

NJMLS - http://www.njmls.com
(New Jersey Multiple Listing Service)
Single Family Homes, Condo, Coop
(Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic Counties)

10/11 - 9,261
10/18 - 9,183 (0.9% Decrease)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Extreme Town Makeover

Of the "A" list Hollywood actors, Leonardo DiCaprio is probably on top of the growing number of eco friendly stars who put their time and money where their mouth is. His current project is producing a TV show that will transform troubled towns into environmental models. Inspired by Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth, "E-topia" will chronicle the reconstruction of an American town as it is transformed into a "Green utopia of tomorrow."

Established in 1998, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has actively fostered awareness of environmental issues through participation with such organizations as Natural Resources Defense Council, Global Green, USA, the International Fund For Animal Welfare, and National Geographic Kids.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Sound of Dirty Birdies

Want a rationalle for including a local jug band in Ecorealty?
Well, there's few musical genres more Down to Earth than a jug band; they call themselves the Dirty Birdies; they've been based in Bloomfield since they began in 1965 --making them possibly the world's oldest surviving jug band as decreed by The Guiness Book of Records. They're featured performers this weekend at The National Jug Band Jubilee in Louisville, Ky. And we love their sound which you can sample on their cool website.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Inflation Jitters Drive Mortgage Rates Up

On Friday, Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.37 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending October 12, 2006, up from last week when it averaged 6.30 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.03 percent.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Justices Reject Challenge to Waterway 'no-build zones'

Third River Near Broad St. in Bloomfield

From The Star Ledger:
The state Supreme Court will not consider an appeal by the New Jersey Builders Association challenging the state's water protection regulations, leaving intact rules that are considered the toughest in the nation....

The builders were attempting to appeal an April state Appellate Court ruling that held the state Department of Environmental Protection had the power to establish 300-foot "no-build zones" around New Jersey's most pristine waterways, effectively putting up to 300,000 acres off limits to construction.

The zones do not prohibit construction of single-family homes that were approved before Feb. 2, 2004, and are not part of a larger development. Towns that have stormwater management plans can reduce the buffers to 150 feet.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Housing For The Birds

From Business Week Online:

Designer tree houses are a personal way to add fun and value to your home, and they're not just for kids anymore. This next-generation tree house is a prefabricated modular structure that is fully livable and can be adapted for a family of up to eight.(lower photo)Free Spirit Sphere by Tom Chudleigh, Errington, British Columbia
About $44,700 to buy and install; $134 for one-night rental

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Eco-Auditing at Bloomfield College

BCU's Halls Of Ivy

Bloomfield College is participating in an innovative environmental compliance peer auditing program. The college’s participation ensures that its campus is environmentally compliant; satisfies environmental regulatory obligations and provides a safe living and learning environment for students, faculty and staff.

The environmental peer audit approach blends a self-audit and a third-party independent audit and enables trained peers from participating schools to audit each other’s campus under the direction of an experienced professional auditor. Joining Bloomfield College in its commitment to the program are eight other NJ schools including Atlantic Cape Community College, Camden County College, Centenary College, College of Saint Elizabeth, Cumberland County College, Drew University, Georgian Court University and Saint Peter’s College.

The New Jersey Council of Community Colleges sponsored this program which is supported by the New Jersey Association of Independent Colleges.

The program will enable Bloomfield College to comply with all major federal environmental programs including air, water, pesticides, solid and hazardous wastes, hazardous substances and chemicals, environmental response, emergency planning, community right-to-know, and toxic substances control.

[Full disclosure: Along with President Richard Levao, three of the most eco-friendly people we know, Paul Russo, Pat Kenschaft and Fred Chichester, currently teach at BCU.]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Site Specific, NJ on Web

With campus security at an all time high, it's often a daunting task to get the art enthusiast to venture to exhibits on a college campus. Fortunately, enough of Site Specific, NJ's environmentally oriented images are available on line to give viewers a look at the distinct points of view of all seven photographers in this ambitious Union County College show. Guest curated by Montclair's Mary Birmingham, the show is running through October 26. (Photo deleted a request of photographer)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Smart Growth Financing

ParkLoans 75% Below Market Rate!

From the NJ Environmental Infrastructure website:

To encourage development in urban areas and preserve open space, the Environmental Financing Program (EIFP) offers a special low-rate loan for qualifying Smart Growth projects. The current rate is only 1.07%!

Under a regular EIFP loan, 50 percent of the loan is from zero interest State Revolving Funds and 50 percent is funded through a market-rate Trust loan (50/50 split). By combining the funds, program participants’ loans are half the market rate.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Basement Bed Ban Bugs Buyers

Many buyers have asked us to only show them homes with finished basements. If they indicate they are planning to rent them out as an extra source of income, we are honorbound to inform them that the law precludes basement living. Full baths are OK, but not full kitchens or bedroom facilities. Today's Star Ledger explains the reasons why it's becoming a major issue in NJ -- and most of the US.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

When the Preferred Buyer is a Polluter

From The Times of Trenton:
HOPEWELL BOROUGH -- Brenda Goeke thought she had found the house of her dreams: a two-bedroom bungalow on a quiet street in desirable Hopewell Borough. Little did she know that her Somerset Street home was sitting on millions of gallons of polluted groundwater that could take decades to clean up.

Now Goeke, along with neighbors of the former Rockwell Industries plant that polluted the land, want the company to buy out their homes because they charge that the contamination has turned their slice of bucolic Mercer County into a worthless investment that no one will want to buy -- at least not for years to come.

"To be quite frank, Rockwell is not going to purchase any property because it all can be fixed," said Ulrike Williams, a corporate director of Rockwell Automation. "They are newer homes and the modifications are rather simple. They can be made -- we have seen it before."