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Monday, May 20, 2024

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Stone Harbor Blazing a Trail With Stormwater Utility Study

Stone Harbor Blazing a Trail With Stormwater Utility Study

By Vince Conti

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STONE HARBORThe borough is taking the lead in Cape May County in studying the creation of a stormwater utility.

In its 2024 budget, Stone Harbor appropriated funds for an engineering and financial study of the value of such a utility. A feasibility study is one of the first steps in a long process of evaluation.

In 2019 a new state law authorized municipal and county governments to establish stormwater utilities as a mechanism for developing a new revenue stream that would be solely dedicated to stormwater management projects. A stormwater utility, supporters argue, would also play a role in reducing pollutant runoff into waterways.

In a recent press briefing on new coastal zone climate-related regulations, Shawn LaTourette, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, urged New Jersey counties and towns to embrace the use of stormwater utilities.

DEP guidance on feasibility studies recommends involvement with stakeholders and the public as an important part of a utility feasibility study; at the Stone Harbor Borough Council meeting on May 7, Councilwoman Robin Casper urged her colleagues to involve the public continuously through the process.

When the 2019 law was first passed Republicans in the state dubbed it the “rain tax”; now a very Republican Stone Harbor is among the municipalities in the forefront on stormwater utilities.

A lack of public support has doomed similar projects in some New Jersey municipalities. Stone Harbor Property Owners Association President Richard Fuchs said his organization is in favor of having the borough establish a utility.

Contact the reporter, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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