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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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The Wrap: Ocean Wind Goes to Court, Stormwater Utilities, County Drug Problem

wind farm from above

By Herald Staff

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Oct. 31 to Nov. 6

Ocean Wind Goes to Court

The Ocean City Council passed a resolution Nov. 3 authorizing an appeal of the Board of Public Works (BPU) decision concerning high-energy transmission cables in Ocean City. The BPU made that decision at a September meeting.  
The controversy over the cables has its roots in the resentment many Ocean City residents have expressed about the entire offshore wind farm initiative.  
Some have praised the effort as a needed counter to climate change and as an economic opportunity for the region, one that will employ union labor at union wages. Others have expressed concern at the fast pace of the initiative and its lack of pilot projects. They claim the 1400-page draft environmental impact study is inaccessible to many members of the public and they warn of environmental dangers and damage to commercial fishing.
The struggle continues with remarkably little active opposition among county residents south of Ocean City who appear to be waiting until the announcement of hearings on Ocean Wind II. Back in January, the Stone Harbor Property Owners Association did request the borough organize a presentation and discussion on Ocean Wind LLC’s plans but there was no response from the borough and nothing was organized. 
Recently Cape May County submitted a series of concerns directed at the draft environmental impact study. 

Stormwater Utilities

In 2019, the state passed legislation that gave counties and municipalities the ability to establish stormwater utilities. These utilities would provide a dedicated stream of funds for stormwater flood mitigation projects. The funds for these expensive projects would no longer be a burden on the property tax rate but rather would use a fee structure that assessed property owners based on the amount of stormwater runoff from their property.  
When the law was passed, many state Republicans termed the utility fees a rain tax. Although over 1,700 such utilities are in operation across the country, no New Jersey municipality has yet embraced the concept and established one. 
Stone Harbor has recently begun the process of seeking state funding to aid in the development of a preliminary feasibility study. Borough officials say no commitment to such a utility is implied in the initiation of a feasibility study. The borough is looking for ways to fund its flood mitigation projects, one of which, a stormwater pump station at 93rd Street, was recently abandoned when the estimated cost jumped to over $11 million.

County Drug Problem

The recent sentencing of a convicted drug distributor provided another glimpse into the damage to individuals and families as a result of illicit drug use in Cape May County. 
In 2020, the Substance Abuse Overview report showed 68% of those admitted for treatment were either unemployed or not in the labor force at all, making clear the impact the scourge has on the county as well.
The Herald reports that the number one drug being abused in 2021 was heroin (36%), often with fentanyl. Alcohol (34%) is running a close second. The 2020 report lists 1,137 Cape May County residents in treatment programs inside the county and an equal number, 1,049 county residents, being treated elsewhere in the state, mostly in Atlantic County. 
The popular online job search site, Indeed, shows the position of substance abuse counselor as among the top available positions in the county. 
Within the county, state data reports the substance abuse problem is heavily concentrated in Lower and Middle townships and Wildwood.  

Happenings

The struggles between the county municipalities and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) continue. Wildwood Crest will seek alternative dispute resolution in its disagreement with the agency over beachfront storage plans. In North Wildwood an order from the DEP to stop shore repair activities is falling on deaf ears in the municipality; litigation is likely. In Cape May, a DEP-required notice about pH levels in the drinking water raises a technical violation that was remedied and is over a year old. The city defends the quality of its water.
Police responded to claims of an “unwanted guest” at a Wildwood motel only to be confronted with witness statements that the individual might be making a bomb. The unwanted guest was arrested and taken for a psychological evaluation. 
Video obtained by the Herald shows a juvenile attacking a senior citizen in North Cape May. The incident adds to the growing lament from county residents that juvenile behavior is increasingly disturbing and sometimes violent.
The ARC of Cape May County held a “Daybreak” program that highlighted its special needs services.
A new pastor in Whitesboro has a vision for reconnecting with the community in order to grow church membership and better meet the needs of the community.
story keeper and language instructor of the Lenape nation of Pennsylvania is working to share her culture as part of the Cape May MAC’s (Museums, Arts, Culture) Lunch and Learn Program. 
Three Cape May County women were honored as the 2022 Women of Wonder at a luncheon held in Ocean City. The honor goes to women who have distinguished themselves in different areas of Cape May County.
Atlantic Cape Community College has announced a new director for its Cape May County campus. 
Second Amendment advocates protested the speed of gun permit issuance. They also called attention to pending legislation that they said would further restrict the right to carry guns.
Avalon held a public meeting on plans for the rejuvenation of Bay Park Marina with added ADA access, enhanced flood resiliency and improved environmental stewardship.
Wildwood Crest Mayor Don Cabrera continues to compete in Ironman competitions, the most recent one being in Panama City, Florida. 

Spout Off of the Week

Cape May Court House – We need term limits across the board for everything. Not just for presidents and governors. We need it for the US Senate and House, for NJ Assembly and Senate, for mayors and committeemen, for county commissioners, for school board members, for everything. Just saying that’s what elections are for is nonsense. The same people just get reelected over and over until they die or retire! No one should be a career politician regardless of party and that’s what we have.
Read more or submit your own at spoutoff.cmcherald.com.

Spout Off

Lower Township – As a retired long time bus driver for NJT,and an even longer resident of LT : Thank you to all the school bus drivers for an accident free year. It is a monumental achievement in this day and age!

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Del Haven – I couldn't help but note that a Republican Rep likened Trump's speech to that of a drunk uncle at a dinner party, when he ranted about Milwaukee as being a terrible "city", Pelosi…

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Wildwood – I think it's only fitting wbp honors past chief cirelli with some sort of badges on their uniforms . Chief Lou lived for the summers and only wished the best for our city

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