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Inlet Sand Litigation Continues; More Money Needed

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By Vince Conti

STONE HARBOR – With state financial assistance, Stone Harbor had to sustain unexpected expense for a federal hydraulic beach fill, in 2016, due to a ruling by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, prohibiting the use of federal funds to borrow sand from areas around Hereford Inlet.  

The ruling was based on a new interpretation of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA). Soon after, Stone Harbor joined Avalon and North Wildwood to fight the prohibition.  

A 2019 beach fill project left Stone Harbor without replenishment, while that struggle progressed. 

U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2nd) led an intercession with the U.S. Department of the Interior, resulting in a reversal of the Fish and Wildlife decision, ostensibly leaving the borough in line for participation in a potential beach fill project, in 2022.  

The Audubon Society sued in federal court to block the Department of the Interior’s decision. That case is pending in the backlogged federal courts. 

Through it all, the borough maintained its arrangement with its two neighboring municipalities, each having contributed $30,000 for the cost of legal representation through special counsel.  

Stone Harbor Borough Council March 16 heard a report from its municipal attorney that the joint fund is almost depleted. The three towns are being asked to contribute a second round of funding to maintain the joint legal representation, as the case continues 

The council was receptive to the need, and a resolution appropriating additional funding is expected at the April 6 governing body meeting. 

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