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Sunday, May 26, 2024


The Wrap: The Geography of Value, Dueling Offshore Wind Sessions, State of the Consumer


By Herald Staff

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May 17  

The Geography of Value 

The state equalization of property value tables for 2023 show Cape May County with a true value of real estate estimated at $77.3 billion. That represents an increase of 64% since 2015 when true value stood at $47.1 billion. The amazing fact from the annual tables is that during the two years of 2021 and 2022, the estimated true value of real estate in the county rose by $19.8 billion 

The frenzied real estate market that began with the pandemic drove valuations up at a rapid pace, leaving every county municipality but one, Woodbine, below the 85% ratio that normally might trigger a revaluation. The county, as a whole, has a 69% ratio of assessed to true value.  

The growth in true property values has been spread widely across the county municipalities.  

Since 2015, the three communities on Cape Island saw an increase in their true value of 67%, with Cape May now at $4.4 billion, West Cape May just under $1 billion, and tiny Cape May Point at $700 million. 

In the same period, the five mainland communities, which include Dennis, Lower, Middle and Upper townships and Woodbine, saw an increase in true value of 42%, with a combined valuation on the 2023 tables of $12.2 billion 

The island communities above the Cape May Canal increased by 69% from a combined $34.9 billion in 2015 to $59 billion in 2023. The two municipalities on Seven Mile Island shot up by over 80% each, leaving Avalon in the 2023 tables with an estimated true value of $14.4 billion and Stone Harbor with $7.5 billion.   

To protect against flood risk, county property owners have over 46,000 flood insurance policies in force, according to the most recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data. Coverage from these policies amounts to $11.5 billion, with premiums paid of over $28 million.  

Dueling Offshore Wind Sessions 

The offshore wind battle produced dueling virtual sessions, May 3, that even overlapped each other in time. A county organized meeting of mayors from all 16 municipalities also had offshore wind high on its agenda. 

Four New Jersey state Republican senators, including the county’s own First District Sen. Michael Testa, held an independent hearing on the rise of sea mammal fatalities, which many are blaming on offshore wind preconstruction activities. The hearing did not stick to the issue of the whale and dolphin deaths, moving repeatedly into other areas of offshore wind opposition, including potential damage to the tourist economy, the commercial fishing industry, and even to the assertion that wind farms will lead to higher temperatures in shore communities.  

The essential message of the Republican hearing was that the work on offshore wind needs to halt for a period that will allow for better analysis of environmental and economic consequences which have not had adequate study because the pace of development has been too rapid. 

Meanwhileseveral current and former state officials, along with wind industry representatives, held an offshore wind technology conference at the Steve Sweeney Center for Public Policy at Rowan University.  

Placing an emphasis on the threat posed by climate change, speakers at the conference shared time with two topic areas of discussion. They presented the case for the negative impact of climate change and the scientific arguments for decarbonization of energy use on the one hand and painted a picture of New Jersey as a leader in a new green industry that could transform the state’s economy. 

The dueling sessions presented little that was not already in the public domain from other events. While speakers on both sides advanced their cases, the preparations for wind farm construction continued to move forward with Ocean Wind I gaining necessary state permits and an Ørsted representative at the Rowan conference saying that construction efforts could begin this year.  

State of the Consumer  

McKinsey released its monthly state of the consumer report for April 2023. The results suggest some areas of concern, but they also hold some promise for 2023 in terms of the hospitality and food and beverage industries.  

The report states that the level of consumer optimism is “even lower than at the start of the pandemic.” This sense of unease is acting as a constraint on spending. Charts from survey responses show consumer optimism dipping in the latter half of 2022 and only making modest improvements in the first months of 2023. 

While overall spending is decelerating, the intent to “splurge” is most pronounced with Generation Z and high-income millennials. The baby boomers give the least likely signs of excess spending. The intent to spend where it exists is focused on things like travel and restaurants and less on more durable purchases.  


Both Wildwood and Lower Township adopted 2023 budgets with tax increases. In each case, the level of tax increase was reduced from what was called for when the budgets were first introduced. 

Avalon officials seem to be presenting different views to the public about the scope of a planned consultant’s study of the borough’s business district. 

The search continues for a missing Cape May mailman whose vehicle was found abandoned in Monmouth County. 

Middle Township has asked its Planning Board to look at an expanded area in Rio Grande as a potential redevelopment zone. That proposal brought a group of residents to a meeting to urge a focus on public safety and quality of life issues that will not be addressed by development. 

An Ocean City condominium has been declared unsafe by the state Department of Community Affairs. Residents have been ordered to evacuate. 

An Egg Harbor Township man was arrested for providing fentanyl-laced drugs that killed two teenagers, one of which was from Sea Isle City. 

 The New Jersey State Board of Education voted 65 to cut the required proficiency score in the state’s high school graduation assessment. 

Avalon adopted a 2023 budget with a tax increase for the first time since 2015. Several residents turned out for the hearing to object to funds allocated for intervention in Armacost Park. 

A DNA test on 23andMe led a Wildwood woman to a half-sister she did not know she had, living just 90 minutes away. 

West Wildwood residents learned of a living shoreline project being designed for the north side of the Wildwood Canal.  

Cape May adopted a new Dune Vegetation Management Plan. The city then forwarded the plan to the state Department of Environmental Protection for approval. 

A domestic violence case that escalated to charges of attempted murder became even more complicated when four members of the defendant’s family were arrested for witness tampering. The defendant’s uncle was released on level-3 monitoring this week 

Spout Off of the Week 

Del Haven - So? Where are we exactly? If Del Haven’s zip code is the same as the Villas, and if you fill out a form online it auto-fills as the Villas. If you speak to anyone not from here in official context they think you are in the Villas,…NOT Del Haven, WHY is Del Haven playing close to double for the new city water if we’re in the Villas? OFFICIALLY we are a part of the Villas, so says the GOVERNMENT post office. Either we’re the Villas or not. Only in NJ can there be TWO towns with one zip code. And somehow that makes it cost double for the same exact same water. Cue the Twilight Zone Music 


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