LAKEWOOD-A video posted this weekend by a YouTuber who goes by the name of “First Amendment Activist” posted a shocking video of Lakewood Township planning board members mocking his right to record the open public hearings. For the past month, the YouTuber has been providing the public with an inside look into the inner workings of Lakewood Township. Videos include meetings of Lakewood’s Master Plan Committee, an arrest of an Orthodox man who was accused of physically abusing his wife and township planning, zoning and committee meetings.
Unlike nearby towns such as Brick and Toms River, the Lakewood government does not provide video recordings of its township meetings.
Angry and upset with the person’s activities, the Lakewood zoning board members last week pulled out their own smartphones and began recording the public audience.
“Before you come up, make sure the cameras are all rolling,” said Abe Halberstam, the zoning board chairman. “All the cameras, every one of them, put the cameras on, everyone.”
At that point, he and other board members joined in, laughing, began video recording the audience.
Under New Jersey state law, the public has the right to record open public meetings of governing bodies.
Under New Jersey law, if any of the board members actually did record the meeting on their device, those recorded files from their mobile devices would also be treated as public records, accessible under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.
Tensions are heating up across Ocean County as governing bodies are being more regularly recorded by ordinary citizens where the government entities do not provide the service to the community.
Lakewood’s zoning board has a notorious reputation for granting approvals for high density commercial projects that probably would not be approved in other communities in the county, frequently rubber stamping variances that exceed a parcel’s zoning limits.
You can watch the video here: