Messing With Nature

Oct 02, 2019

To the Editor:

I am a lifelong area resident who grew up on LBI from 1967 to 1985. I recently moved back to the area and chose to live in Beach Haven West. My home was affordable shortly after Superstorm Sandy and it remains an old-school, two-story home on an oversized natural stone lot.

I have chosen to keep it that way to help allow water to run off and so far, with the exception of a few high tides, we have had no issue with flooding in the yard despite the severity and frequency of recent thunderstorms, nor’easters and near misses with tropical systems.

I see homes going up all around me covering the entire footprint, usually with pavers. With all the overdevelopment and the green lighting of a large project like the Hotel LBI we are certainly working against what Mother Nature is doing.

Whether you believe climate change is man-made or part of the natural change in the Earth, it is real and it is happening. Sea levels are rising and we are experiencing much more frequent strong storms. There have been eight confirmed tornadoes in New Jersey this year alone, something virtually unheard of and confirmed by me in conversations with area meteorologists.

The Hotel LBI project, for example, replaced a gravel parking lot with an impervious parking garage. This was done in an area with drainage problems so extreme a rain storm flooded out access to the Causeway this summer.

These projects are inconsistent with building in harmony with the changing climate, the surrounding neighborhoods and with other businesses looking to exist in the same area, especially in Beach Haven. I shudder to think what the environmental impact will be to the area around The Boatyard if that project is green lighted, as well as the proposed hotel at Morrison’s in Beach Haven. Will the electrical grid be able to handle it? What about overflow parking? The situation in Ship Bottom is enough to prove that these other projects will be problematic.

Our sandbar was not cut out for such massive projects. I think we need to take a hard look at what we are allowing to continue. It seems really counterintuitive to continue to allow such large projects in an ecologically sensitive area that’s experiencing a rapid shift in sea levels and other external factors.

All you have to do is look at areas of the Island that fared better in storms – Barnegat Light in particular. My family home is still there in its original state and it dates back to the 1944 storm. The natural dunes and vegetation protect that part of the Island, much like the dunes did in the area of Haven Beach where I grew up.

We rode out storms and multiple tropical systems and at no time were we in danger of having water in our home. The blocks of bayberry dunes and open access to the bay from the bay beach allowed the runoff. Sure there would be times we had some street flooding but nothing to the extent that we have now, nor the frequency.

I am asking that our town leaders put not only the interests of residents first because they enjoy a special quality of life from living in a small shore community but that they also take into consideration the environmental impacts and, instead of working against Mother Nature, start taking a hard look at what we can do to not be part of the problem and be part of the solution.

Melisa Fillman

Beach Haven West

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