Pebble Beach Seeks Kim’s Help With Dredging Issues

By Eric Englund | Oct 16, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Barnegat — A group of homeowners from Pebble Beach, a residential development encompassing both Barnegat Township and Waretown, are asking Congressman Andy Kim to intervene in resolving dredging issues with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

In the past, the Pebble Beach Homeowners Association has worked with the federal, state and county governments to complete dredging of the Double Creek. After Superstorm Sandy, the group partnered with the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove debris from its lagoon system, making the waterways safer for navigation. In 2008, the association dredged the Pebble Beach Inlet.

But Mickey Sherry, president of the association, said that within the last five to six years, the DEP has come up with more stringent laws that have made dredging extremely complex and expensive.

“These laws make dredging extremely tough, especially in small communities such as ours,” said Sherry. “In short, the laws have changed mostly in the permit process. The biggest change to dredging involves the management of the dredging activities and removal of the dredged material.”

He said the association previously used to dredge spoils to reinforce areas in the development such as at certain street ends where there is flooding at high tide.

“But now we have to take it to a landfill,” he said. “As a result, the procedure calls for sampling and surveying the dredge site before, during and after. It’s literally following the dredge material from start to finish. This drives up the cost of the dredging project.”

Sherry said Pebble Beach, which has approximately 600 homes, is one of few area developments that has a dredge fund.

“But the cost of permitting is rising a lot faster than our fund,” he said.

He said the DEP would charge $80 per cubic yard of spoils, which would result in a cost of approximately $200,000 for a dredging project.

“Our homeowners can’t afford that,” he said. “We’re hoping the state will make this less stringent. That’s why we’re calling on the congressman.”

As a result, some dredging work has been put on hold, such as a shoaling problem on 11th Street. Barnegat Mayor Alfonso Cirulli, one of several area officials in attendance at the recent meeting with Kim and the association, said that during the summer, residents along the lagoons have to wait until high tide to get their boats in the lagoon behind their properties. That’s because silt discharging from a storm drain pipe connected to the Lochiel Creek creates shoaling conditions where boats could get stuck if they venture out during low tide. The creek serves as a border between Barnegat and Waretown.

“Having stormwater runoff from the pipe into the lagoon is normal,” said Cirulli. “But lately a lot of sediment has been discharged. We’ve received quite a few complaints. Sometimes, the boats all have to go to one side of the lagoon to make their way out to the Barnegat Bay.”

Cirulli said he initially thought the storm drain pipe was owned by the county, but that is not the case.

“The county would have taken responsibility to fix it up, and it would not be a major undertaking,” he said. “We’re not talking about dredging up the whole lagoon. It’s mostly in the area of the pipe. But now that no one seems to know who put that pipe in, nothing happens.”

Following the meeting, Kim issued a statement, saying, “Getting a chance to listen to homeowners on this issue and see first-hand what they’re going through is absolutely critical. I look forward to working closely with Senator (Christopher) Connors, Mayor Cirulli, Mayor (Ben) LoParo (of Waretown), and others to make sure our community’s best interests are kept and we help them make progress.”

— Eric Englund

ericenglund@thesandpaper.net

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