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Bayshore Council Incorporated, Intends a United Voice in Trenton

Sen. Jeff Van Drew

By Jim McCarty

PORT NORRIS – The New Jersey Delaware Bayshore Council, Inc. was created at a special meeting of the Board of Trustees July 28 in Port Norris. 
Assemblymen Robert Andrzejczak and Bruce Land (both D-1st) were present as Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) swore in the officers of this non-profit corporation. It was founded for “the purpose of advocating for the health and sustainability of N.J.’s Bayshore communities from the Cape May Canal to the Delaware Memorial Bridge,  amplifying the voice of Bayshore issues and community needs and facilitating a healthy balance of conservation and economic vitality”, as stated in the articles of incorporation.
Norris Clark, deputy mayor of Lower Township, was selected as the council’s first chairperson, with Meghan Wren, executive director of the Bayshore Center, vice-chair and 1st District Legislative Director Jonathan Atwood, secretary/treasurer.
Regular members include several municipalities along the bay including Mayor Robert Campbell of Downe Township, environmental and business groups and other stakeholders who seek to safeguard the environment while promoting and developing economic initiatives that will sustain the communities along the bay for the future.
State government was also represented by Elizabeth Semple, Department of Environmental Protection Manager 3, Office of Coastal and Land Use Planning, and Coastal Planner Rick Brown.
The Coastal Planning representatives pledged support and assistance to the council.
Brown stated that the state has representatives of the bayshore communities to talk to and that the organization has a collective voice that will be stronger than individual members alone.
Clark asked the DEP to suggest the “smartest single goal” that the council should be seeking to achieve. Brown suggested that the board develop its own needs list of priorities.
He suggested they ask “What is important to the council, and what do we need to accomplish those goals?” 
Semple suggested that a work plan, with specific deliverables would be a good start. She further suggested that there is grant money available in the state that they might use to fund their operation, such as acquiring administrative help for phone answering, and other related tasks.
The board then approved a draft letter directed to Gov. Christie on behalf of the council asking that he support Senate Concurrent Resolution 87 that calls for a constitutional amendment to require the state to make payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) to municipalities for certain preserved open space.
This is designed to make partially up for lost tax revenues when open space purchases result in a loss of tax revenue for the coastal communities who wish to preserve the environment, but cannot afford to lose revenue.
Van Drew pledged his support and that of his legislative team for the council.
Clark complemented the Van Drew team for being responsive and helpful in supporting the council’s creation.
Van Drew had one piece of advice; that was to resist the urge to become more bureaucratic, and to ensure that the council remains open to all stakeholders who wish to participate and express opinions.
Clark and Wren began the work of organizing subcommittees and decided that meetings would be held every two months on the first Wednesday of the meeting month. The location will rotate to the member counties; a release will provide those details to those interested in participating.
To contact Jim McCarty, email jmccarty@cmcherald.com.

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