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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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The Wrap: NJ Pushes Offshore Wind, Juveniles and Summer, REAL Is Now Very Real

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By Herald Staff

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May 27-June 2

NJ Pushes Offshore Wind

Offshore Wind Turbines

The Murphy administration’s response to opposition to the fast pace of his offshore wind agenda has been to double down on his ambitious goals and infuse more speed into the process. On May 28 Gov. Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities announced the acceleration of the state’s fifth solicitation for offshore wind farm developers. The announcement moves the previous schedule up by over a year, from the third quarter of 2026 to the second quarter of 2025.

It was only January of this year when the state launched its fourth solicitation. The projects are piling up behind one another as the state sticks to Murphy’s goal, 11 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2040.

In related news, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a favorable final environmental impact statement for two wind farm projects by Atlantic Shores South. This paves the way for a final federal approval soon and start of construction this year. The two projects will place around 200 wind turbines off the shore of Long Beach Island.

Meanwhile, Murphy touted a settlement agreement with the Danish firm Orsted. Orsted pulled out of its commitments for two wind farms, Ocean Wind 1 and 2, this past October. The sudden withdrawal was a blow to the state’s plans, and an angry Murphy promised to seek a full $300 million from the wind farm developer that he claimed was owed to the state. The final settlement announced May 28 was for less than half of that promised amount: The state will receive $125 million.

There is still no word on what Orsted will do with its purchased lease areas off the Cape May County coast.

Juveniles and Summer

Since the Murphy administration initiated its juvenile justice reform program, Shore communities have seen an unwelcome marriage of the summer season and large groups of juveniles engaged in disruptive and at times dangerous behavior. Over the last few summers, attempts to control rowdy behavior and still stay within the guidelines of state statutes and directives has resulted in many changes to traditional summers at the Shore.

Towns have imposed curfews, limited the use of backpacks, closed beaches early and increased the police presence on boardwalks and other popular locations.

Now the start of this summer season saw upsetting developments along the Shore and at Ocean City and Wildwood in particular in Cape May County. Angry local officials have vowed that juveniles will not mar the summer experience for the county’s all-important tourist economy.

Legislation to aid Shore towns in dealing with this unintended consequence of state reform actions has generally not fared well, needing to be watered down to gain Murphy’s signature even if it does manage to clear the Legislature. This year he has refused to sign legislation that allowed for a $50 fine for underage drinking, saying it was counter to his efforts at juvenile justice reform.

This week Attorney General Matthew Platkin refused to shoulder any blame for the incident where large numbers of unruly teenagers forced Wildwood to close its Boardwalk temporarily. Platkin said nothing in state law or directives prevents police from “doing their job.” He argued that the city was at fault for not having enough officers on duty on the Boardwalk.

Wildwood released a statement calling the attorney general’s remarks “inaccurate and ill-informed.” Throughout the growth of problems at the Jersey Shore over consecutive summers, the state has shown little inclination to help alleviate them.

REAL Is Now Very Real

<p>Flooding in Ocean City.</p>

Murphy issued Executive Order 100 in January 2020, which directed the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop regulations that integrate projected climate change impacts into the regulatory process. New Jersey Protecting Against Climate Threats has been under development for four years. Some pieces have been released, including inland regulations for riverine areas last year.

What everyone has been waiting for is what the state terms Resilient Environments and Landscapes, or REAL. The rules package is expected to be in the New Jersey Register by July, after which the state will have one year to adopt it.

The final package will most likely be finalized in the summer of 2025 with changes to existing flood hazard, stormwater, coastal zone and freshwater wetlands regulations.

These changes will include expansion of the inundation zone, an addition of 6 feet to FEMA’s 100-year flood elevation, alterations to stormwater management and treatment, facilitating offshore wind development by allowing the installation of transmission cables, greater consistency between State Planning Commission actions and the requirements of the Coastal Area Facilities Review Act, and much more.

REAL regulations are about to get very real indeed.

Happenings

Ann DeGennaro has been appointed as the new CFO for Avalon, succeeding James Craft, who is retiring after 26 years. DeGennaro, previously Avalon’s assistant comptroller, brings extensive experience and qualifications to the role.

Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio reported that over 500 foundation piles for the new community center will be installed in June, with completion expected by September 2025. Contractor Earnest Bock and Sons will take measures to minimize summer disruptions.

Stone Harbor Borough Council opened the beach parking lot east of Second Avenue for permit parking in the 2024 season, addressing last year’s permit space shortage. Police will not ticket vehicles with permits in this lot, and permits will be capped at 225.

Ocean City Fire Chief James P. Smith will retire on July 1, and Deputy Chief Bernard F. Walker will succeed him as the new chief of the Ocean City Fire Department. Mayor Jay Gillian praised Smith’s 30-year service and expressed confidence in Walker’s ability to lead the department forward.

Cape May City Council introduced an ordinance for lead paint inspections in pre-1978 long-term rentals, with a $20 surcharge and linked to Fire Bureau checks. A task force will consider extending inspections to short-term rentals.

The Lower Township Police Department urges residents to prevent auto thefts, which have increased due to unsecured vehicles with keys left inside. Residents should always remove keys, lock doors, and hide valuables, and report suspicious activity to 609-886-2711 or dial 911 in emergencies.

Cape May County’s Comprehensive Bridge Program progresses with plans for Ocean Drive and 96th Street bascule bridge replacements, supported by strong financial backing and strategic planning for infrastructure upgrades.

Police arrested Nicholas Gibson, 23, and a juvenile on weapons and assault charges after a disturbance on the Wildwood Boardwalk involving a knife and a firearm. Gibson was released on a summons, while the juvenile was detained.

Lower Township Police investigated motor vehicle thefts in North Cape May, leading to charges against a 13-year-old, emphasizing vehicle security and community involvement in crime prevention.

New Jersey Board of Public Utilities held hearings for a revamped Energy Master Plan, emphasizing economic analysis and decarbonization strategies, paralleled by state Department of Environmental Protection’s modernization of land use rules, amid a push for climate action before leadership changes.

A Superior Court judge has approved the merger between Cape Regional Health System and Cooper University Health Care, aiming to enhance health care access and resources for residents of Cape May and Atlantic counties, with formal signing scheduled for July 1.

Stone Harbor Borough Council approved a lower-cost plan for rebuilding the 97th Street playground, focusing on accessibility and additional equipment for children aged 2-5, aiming for completion by late July or early August.

A 69-year-old pedestrian was hospitalized after being struck by a vehicle on 8th Street in Ocean City. The incident is under investigation by the Police Department’s Traffic Safety Unit, with information requested from potential witnesses.

A 20-year-old man from Clayton was arrested for eluding police after fleeing in his vehicle when officers attempted to stop him for reckless driving. He was charged with second-degree eluding and other traffic offenses, and was lodged in the Cape May County Correctional Center.

Paul Offit, a prominent pediatrician and vaccine expert, shares his journey from childhood trauma during polio outbreaks to becoming a leading advocate for vaccination, emphasizing public health and vaccine education despite challenges.

Spout Off of the Week

Cape May – People blame relaxed laws and understaffed police forces for the youth violence movement. I would bet that if you fined the parents of the unruly kids $2500 every time their kid is arrested, this nonsense would come to a screeching halt

Read more spouts at spoutoff.capemaycountyherald.com. 

Spout Off

Sea Isle City – I have grave concerns over the Sea Isle fire company. We called when our alarms were sounding and it took them nearly 20 minutes to arrive. Now hearing rumours the chief was removed by the city….

Read More

Villas – I found out most spouters do not want to hear any positive things, when I put or other spouters spout nice spouts no one responds. There are good things that happen here why not say something…

Read More

Cape May – PLEASE respect the signs on the Cape May bridge and do not ride your bikes over it with ongoing traffic. There are 4 signs that say "Walk bikes over". You are risking your life and others…

Read More

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