Little Egg Harbor Shoreline Protection for Iowa Court Begins

Apr 03, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson Albert Marine has delivered equipment next to marine lumber delivered back in 2018.

Christmas came and the residents of Iowa Court in Little Egg Harbor decorated the pile of marine lumber left on the marsh with wreaths. For Valentine’s Day, hearts were added, and some green shamrocks showed up for St. Patrick’s Day. The residents are hoping that red, white and blue bunting for Memorial Day won’t be needed to dress up the pile, that instead, the lumber will already be in the water for a bulkhead.

This week, Albert Marine Contractors started mobilizing its equipment for the shoreline protection project and should start building the ledge on April 3. Residents have been waiting since 2015, when the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation gave both Little Egg Harbor Township and Tuckerton borough a $2.1 million grant for such projects.

To be fair, the holdup was not the township’s fault. At first the idea was to use dredge material from the lagoons to spray mud across the depleted marshes, a process called thin layer deposition. Then the federal government, which owns much of the marsh, did not sign on to the process, saying it was not a proven way to help a marsh.

But on Iowa Court, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation owns the marsh that will be built up behind a hard structure of wood and rocks, and the “living shoreline” will consist of oysters planted on shell to buttress the rocks.

During the March 28 township municipal meeting, the township committee also introduced an ordinance to bond up to $4.5 million for the Phase 1 Mystic Island lagoon dredging project of Rose Creek and lagoon sections on the east side of Radio Road. The 526 residents were asked to return a certified letter as a vote on the project, which included a special assessment of $9,500 for each lot, to be paid at the rate of $950 per year for 10 years. The advantages would be increased boating and access to the bay and subsequent (assumed) increase in property values.

The township committee (Ray Gormley and John Kehm were absent) also passed a resolution making application to the local finance board for permission to bond the $4.5 million. “This is in the spirit of being prepared,” said Township Attorney Jean Cipriani.

Dredging is permitted only between July 1 and Dec. 3 unless the town can get an extension. If the population of Mystic Island included in Phase 1 (those living east of Radio Road) decides by majority that they support the dredging, it could begin as early as August of this year.

Letters should have been returned to the township clerk by March 29. If the vote is approved, the township will advertise for a contractor in May, award the bid in June and start construction in August and hope for completion by Dec 31.

As in the Osborn Island dredging, the contractor will be responsible for dewatering the mud and trucking it to an approved disposal site.

In other news, the committee approved spending $156,000 to repair the HVAC control boxes in the Little Egg Harbor Justice Complex. The municipal building was finished in 2004. Township Chief Financial Officer Rodney Haines said the money for the project was already approved in an ordinance passed in 2017 for various capital improvements.

Township Engineer Jason Worth said the sidewalk improvements between Mathistown Road and Center Street will restart April 1, and the paving of Spring Lakes Boulevard will start April 15. He also reminded those living on the waterfronts that the township participates in the Community Rating System through FEMA and through town diligence has received a 20 percent discount on flood insurance. He reminded people to check with their flood insurance carrier to make sure they are getting that discount.

Detective Joel Mahr was promoted to sergeant during a brief ceremony. Police Chief Richard Buzby said Mahr has over 13 years of service in the township, has been an SRO officer in the schools, and is a member of the SWAT team and Ocean County Strike Force. “He has been a detective for the last four years, has an excellent record, and his promotion is part of our plan to keep up our drug (deterrent) efforts and our quality of life here in Little Egg Harbor.”

During the public comment period, a resident asked if Buzby could comment on the township’s use of electronic weapons (such as Tasers). Buzby said the devices are used only when relevant to the situation, such as when an emotionally disturbed person is in danger of hurting himself or others. The department has been training with these weapons. We do own them and deploy them under strict limitations,” he said.

In answer to another resident, Township Administrator Matthew Spadaccini said he and the township engineer met with public works to try to address the erosion at the Graveling Point Beach at the end of Radio Road. Before they can formulate a plan, they must meet with the county to determine what portion of the land the township owns, what the county owns and what the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge owns.

Great Wolf Lodge
Gets LEHT Letter

Linda Fahmie, the owner with her family of 68 acres abutting Walmart off Route 9 and Otis Bog Road, was disappointed with a letter the township has sent to executives of Great Wolf Lodge resorts. “I thought I was getting a letter of endorsement, but instead I got a ‘To Whom It May Concern,’ general letter,” she said. “They (executives) want to hear ‘We want to get to the table with you.’”

The letter, signed by the township administrator and dated March 18, does begin with “To Whom It May Concern,” but then goes on to say, “The Township of Little Egg Harbor is very interested in exploring the possibility of new commercial development within the township. The Township offers a business-friendly environment and would be pleased to explore any grant incentive opportunities available.”

He goes on to extol the virtues of Little Egg Harbor and “We are continuously seeking opportunities for improvement and fostering the development of new business catering to the tourism industry. There are currently large undeveloped parcels in the Township’s Commercial Zone that are ideal for large-scale developments.”

Then he states the requirements for development: Little Egg Harbor Planning Board, Little Egg Harbor Municipal Utilities, Ocean County Soil Conservation District, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Ocean County Planning Board, New Jersey Department of Transportation, and the Coastal Areas Facilities Review Act plus any other permits that might be required for a specific project.

Then Spadacinni included a paragraph on how to contact him and an offer to help set up any conference calls to facilitate further discussion.

During the municipal meeting, Fahmie read a more enthusiastic letter that she wrote that ended with “the community is excited about Great Wolf Lodge,” and asked if it could be sent as well. Mayor Barbara Jo Crea said the committee would look at her letter but added that she must not give the impression she is endorsing the project. “I sit on the planning board, and statutorily, it’s not correct that I do that.”

After the meeting, Crea explained that Fahmie’s land is not the only land available in the township, and she can’t give the impression that she favors one landowner over another.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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