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Monday, June 17, 2024

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Matalucci Named to MUA, Replaces Groon; Fight Against Ocean Wind 1 Continues

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By Al Campbell

In this story, the Cape May County Board of County Commissioners:

  • Appointed Dennis Township Mayor Zeth Matalucci to replace Carl Groon.
  • Approved spending $37,440 for a three-bedroom unit for two homeless applicants in what is deemed “bridge housing.”
  • Awarded a contract to Warwick Group Consultants to advance the county’s opposition to the Ocean Wind I project with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. 
  • Approved a net credit of $327,192 with South State Inc. for work at County Commons in Rio Grande.
  • Passed a resolution to lease a vacant parcel to Erma Volunteer Fire Department that will be used for training and drills.
  • Run for the Fallen Inc. was given the nod to use county roads and bridges Sept. 22.  

CREST HAVEN – Dennis Mayor Zeth A. Matalucci was appointed to the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA) by the Board of County Commissioners Aug. 9.
Matalucci, a Republican, will serve a five-year term that will begin Aug. 17 and expire Feb. 1, 2027. He will take the seat vacated by former Wildwood Crest Mayor Carl H. Groon, who resigned June 30.
Matalucci is a lifelong Dennis Township resident and Middle Township High School graduate.
He served in the U.S. Secret Service under President George W. Bush. He and his wife have two children.
Groon had served seven years as a commissioner since being appointed by then-freeholders in 2015, according to an MUA resolution passed June 29. 
That document noted Groon had provided the authority “with leadership and direction as chairman of the Wastewater Program Committee.” He also served on the Budget/Review Finance, By-laws, Construction Claims, and SCADA Committees.
Groon had taken the MUA seat of another former Wildwood Crest mayor, John Pantalone.
A 1989 salary resolution for MUA commissioners means that Matalucci will receive $7,500 annually.
The county MUA operates four regional wastewater treatment facilities, a solid waste transfer station in Middle Township, and a sanitary landfill in Woodbine. 
Homelessness Trust Board 
On the recommendation of the Homelessness Trust Fund Advisory Board, commissioners approved spending $37,440 for a three-bedroom unit for two new applicants in what is deemed “bridge housing.” Both applicants were “unsheltered during their housing search,” according to the resolution.
Both applicants will receive “intensive case management” from the Homelessness Trust Fund case manager.
In addition, one-time discretionary funding for a maximum of $15,000 will pay for furniture, overdue utility bills, landlord incentives, and other expenses.
In a related matter, Lt. Charles Ryan of the Lower Township Police Department was appointed to the Homelessness Trust Fund Advisory Board from Aug. 10, 2022, until Dec. 31, 2025.  
Oppose Ocean Wind Project
The proposed Ocean Wind I project, located about 15 miles off the county’s coastline, is still opposed by commissioners. 
In a resolution passed Aug. 9, the board hired Warwick Group Consultants LLC without bidding as allowed by law for professional service contracts.
The resolution cited the Orsted and Public Service Electric and Gas proposal for the state’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm as the reason it hired the firm.
According to Warwick’s website, the firm is “Washington, D.C.’s leading coastal advocacy group.”
The firm noted Avalon and North Wildwood as two client communities on its site. Other clients include South Carolina, California, Georgia, and Hawaii communities.
The resolution cited the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s “inability to comply with certain requirements in prior offshore wind projects, which is likely to a lack of consideration of cultural, environmental and economic harms that will be caused by Ocean Wind I…” 
Quite a Credit
“As-built quantity adjustments” at County Commons, in Rio Grande, that resulted from a series of change orders with South State Inc. resulted in a net credit of $327,192.
The site of the former Kmart is the current location for county Human Services and the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, as well as several commercial stores. 
Erma Volunteer Fire Company Lease
A lot adjacent to the county fuel depot near the firehouse at the County Airport will be leased to the Erma Volunteer Fire Department (District No. 3), which will allow the firefighters to hold training and drills on the vacant parcel.
Lower Township Council approved the action at its recent meeting, according to the commissioners’ resolution passed Aug. 9.  
Run for the Fallen 
An annual tribute to fallen state military personnel won approval to use the county’s roads and bridges Sept. 22. 
The Run for the Fallen is a tribute by military members who pay homage to state residents who died in military service. 
The event begins in Cape May Point and continues northward to Ocean City. Stops are made every few miles to honor the memory of one service member.  

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