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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Avalon May Face Court Fight Over Plan to Move Outflow Pipe

Avalon May Face Court Fight Over Plan to Move Outflow Pipe

By Vince Conti

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AVALON – The borough’s plan to relocate an outflow pipe on 7th Street may be challenged in court.

After Business Administrator Scott Wahl told the Borough Council June 12 that the pipe was failing and “had a negligible impact on flood mitigation in the area,” he added that the borough planned to relocate the pipe to a borough-controlled easement.

The outflow pipe currently sits in an easement close to 576 7th Street, a property owner by Paul Morrissey. An attorney for Dan Hopkins, the owner of adjacent 606 7th Street, is threatening legal action to block the move.

Wahl said the borough’s plan is to replace and relocate the pipe with an outflow pipe of a larger size. In an email responding to Herald questions, he added that it is borough policy to “share the burden” of the pipe along the line of the two adjacent properties, 576 and 606 7th Street. The relocated pipe would still be on the property of 576 7th Street, buried in an easement that Wahl says dates to 1980.

Following the meeting, Wahl told the Herald that the firm that manages the water/sewer utility for the borough concurs that the pipe has suffered a “catastrophic failure.” He added that he has been informed that “the pipe during storm events may even bring water from the bay into the community” due to its failure.

At the meeting Hopkins’ lawyer, Jacob Perskie, said his client would oppose any movement of the pipe toward his property, would challenge any change to the state permit required for relocating the pipe, and would contest the easement the pipe is to be moved to under the borough’s plan.

Perskie’s threat of litigation led Borough Attorney Nicole Curio to advise council members to refrain from any response.

One issue raised by Perskie was the fate of trees and vegetation along the easement to be used for the relocated pipe. He said that the borough has stated publicly its commitment to maintain trees whenever possible. In an email Wahl admitted that in any effort to relocate the pipe, “disturbance of the vegetation may occur.”

Council President Jamie McDermott recused himself from the discussion, remaining in the room but leaving the dais and taking a seat with the public. He did not explain the reason for his recusal.

The issue came up during a work session, where formal action is never taken. Wahl said the issue would return to the council on its business agenda, where action can be taken.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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