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County, Wildwood OK Redevelopment Plan; DEP Proposal Deemed Too Costly for Owners

The Cape May County Regional Urban Search and Rescue Team Oct. 26 are thanked for their service in the wake of Hurricane Ida in September by the Board of County Commissioners.  

By Al Campbell

CREST HAVEN – A two-year collaboration between Cape May County and Wildwood to revitalize its Pacific Avenue downtown area was formalized Oct. 26 by the Board of County Commissioners. 
Commissioner Will Morey said the agreement was “part of a collaboration” that the Wildwood Board of Commissioners planned to pass.
The resolution noted that Wildwood was ranked in a 2017 Municipal Revitalization Index of “most distressed city” in the state behind Camden, Salem City, Atlantic City, and Bridgeton.
It further stated that “the private sector, acting on its own, has not been able to ignite an economic resurgence of the Pacific Avenue corridor in the city’s Business Improvement District.”
The entire City of Wildwood was designated an “area in need of rehabilitation” by a Nov. 13, 2013, resolution.
Wildwood, as the pilot community, will be assessed by the county on theventure’s effectiveness, the resolution states.
The Atlantic County Improvement Authority will manage the project. The resolution states that Wildwood is “prepared to employ all redevelopment powers afforded to it” under state law.
Board to State: Weigh Economic Impact
The board expressed its concern to the state over the economic impact a proposed Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulation would have on the county and state.
The resolution targets the Protecting Against Climate Threats (PACT) regulations.
The rule would mandate 5 feet of freeboard above the base flood elevation for new construction in a flood zone.
The board’s resolution noted that such a requirement on new and substantially improved homes “is not only prohibitively expensive for our residents but will not be feasible on many sites.”
The resolution points out that the state requires municipalities to prepare master plans with a 20-30-year scope. The projection is based on a 2100 sea level. The board believes the state should use that same horizon.
Further, there “has been no major discussion concerning the magnitude of the economic impact” of the proposals or how to assist residents who the rules would negatively impact.
The resolution notes no “corresponding legislation” is in the works to authorize the DEP to move forward with its plan. 
Copies of the resolution were to be sent to the governor, DEP commissioner, state senator and assemblymen, and all countiessince all would be affected.
‘Hopefully’ Last Change Order
The board approved the eighth change order on the Safari Cafe project, at the County Zoo.
Acting Administrator Kevin Lare noted the $88,090 change to R. Wilkinson & Sons was “hopefully the last.” 
Patio soil removal, epoxy floor material, and relocation of various outlets, locks, and fire alarms are responsible for the increase. Funding is from a 2019 bond ordinance.
College Trustees Reappointed
The board renamed three voting members of the Atlantic Cape Community College Board of Trustees to four-year seats.
Ellen Byrne, of Sea Isle City, David Coskey, of Avalon, and Daniel Money, of Rio Grande, will serve until Oct. 31, 2025.
RUST Team Lauded Again
The county’s Regional Urban Search and Rescue Team (RUST) was cited for its collective work in the wake of Hurricane Ida Sept. 1, which claimed 25 lives in the state.
Vice Director Leonard Desiderio said the team, which lined the meeting room wall, served in Gloucester County due to a tornado. Later, the team went to Princeton, Lawrenceville, and Manville and assisted in the rescue or evacuation of 264 individuals and 42 pets.
In the absence of Director Gerald Thornton, Desiderio thanked the members for their service and had a group photograph taken.
$5 Million Accepted
The board accepted a windfall of just over $5 million from the U.S. Treasury into the county budget. The sum is part of the American Rescue Plan to “help turn the tide on the pandemic, address its economic fallout,” and aid in a “strong, equitable recovery.” 

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