Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Wrap: The Election, Climate Change, Zoning

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By Herald Staff

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Oct. 23-29

The Election

The general election next week is characterized by a number of uncontested races. It is not unusual in Cape May County to be presented with ballots with little or no formal opposition for municipal governing body seats.

The big exception to little or no opposition this year is in Wildwood where 14 candidates are seeking three commission seats. Former Mayor Pete Byron is trying to regain the seat on the commission that he lost when he resigned just ahead of a move by the state attorney general to unseat him. Byron pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges and is under state indictment for health benefits fraud, along with current Commissioner Steve Mikulski and former Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr., who are both also seeking reelection. New names and old rivals add to the drama in the Wildwood race.

Some other municipalities will see interesting contests this year, with an important school district public question on the ballot in Dennis Township. Several state and county races have Democrats looking to unseat Republican incumbents, newcomers are trying to break into the governing body in Upper Township and West Cape May, and a number of school board races are contested.

Climate Change

The Sweeney Center at Rowan University held a conference to look at emerging technologies that may play an important role in the transition to a green energy future. Panels discussed hydrogen hubs, the future role of nuclear power and even the use of ammonia as a hydrogen transport mechanism. Acknowledgement was made that wind and solar power remain at the center of the state’s push toward zero emissions.

On display at the conference were the differing views on the speed with which the state must respond to climate change. State officials from the Department of Environmental Protection and New Jersey Board of Public Utilities endorse the aggressive schedule the state is pushing, indicating, as one did, that the time for debate is over. Meanwhile, three chief executive officers of state utilities caution that moving too fast with the “electrification of everything” strategy runs the risk of forcing utilities to burn fossil fuels to meet the growing demand for electricity. They also warned that the fight against climate change must involve solutions affordable to ratepayers.

Oceana, an ocean environmental group, issued a report that catalogues the number of large sea-going vessels that speed through zones demarcated by the federal government as Seasonal Management Areas where vessel speeds are set by regulation in order to protect the North American right whale. The report argues that vessel strikes are a major threat to the endangered sea mammals.


Recently both Stone Harbor and Sea Isle City altered existing zoning regulations to change elevation levels. Both have now made moves to pull back from those changes to more “reasonable” and less controversial levels.

This week, Sea Isle City altered the first floor elevation of unfinished space set in June to one the administration described as “more practical” for homes in low-lying areas of the city.

Stone Harbor, confronted with the unintended consequences of recent ordinance changes concerning lot grading, is making changes to the ordinance that will prevent homes with second story pools, as is the case in a conspicuous home under construction on 113th Street.

Stone Harbor is also seeing considerable debate over a recently introduced ordinance dealing with side-yard setbacks.

With the DEP set to issue its coastal zone rules, the task of zoning for the future is likely to get more complicated. Changing climate conditions, predictions of sea level rise, and impending state and Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations all complicate what was already a complicated endeavor tackled, in most municipalities, by volunteer boards. Climate resilient development at the local level is likely to face a lack of consensus on the threats it is seeking to protect against.


The misconduct case concerning a county detective is going to trial. The detective is being accused of inappropriately using his position to launch an unauthorized investigation into a hit-and-run that involved a family member. The court recently denied a motion to toss the indictment.

Readers asked and the Herald responded on the seeming mystery of why county taxes can go up when the county tax rate declines.

Following a tip from U.S. Customs, local law enforcement allowed a controlled delivery of drugs to a home in Lower Township. A subsequent search of the home led to the arrest of two occupants on drug distribution charges.

Two men were rescued from the Intracoastal Waterway off West Wildwood after their personal watercraft capsized.

In response to a reader question, the Herald obtained information on where the money goes that is solicited at the entrances to the county park and zoo.

A 15-year-old Court House youth with severe autism realized a dream vacation to central Florida theme parks thanks to the Sunshine Foundation.

Avalon altered parking regulations in an attempt to free up space in municipal lots that support those visiting borough hall, the free library or the town’s school.

A candlelight vigil at the First Baptist Church of Whitesboro brought hope and a sense of support to those who have survived abuse.

Upper Township introduced an ordinance that would significantly increase the penalties for illegal dumping.

Sea Isle amended its capital spending plan to account for the increased cost associated with this year’s beach replenishment project.

The landmark tower at the B.L. England plant has been demolished. The tower had long served as a visual cue for those crossing into Cape May County.

Spout Off of the Week

Cape May – I certainly understand the benefits of technology but I’m old. I miss the world where a human answered the phone on the second ring instead of push this for…… etc. I miss the world where you didn’t get 6 reminders you have Doctor appt., orders ready, etc. I long for the days where “App” wasn’t a word and text wasn’t a verb. Can’t imagine what a young adult in today’s world will long for when they reach their 80’s? Cell phones? Cars?

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Spout Off

Wildwood – We hear a lot of spouts about thousands of illegal immigrants crossing into our country every day. People say they are given free phones, food , housing, medical care etc. Are they really and if so…

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West Wildwood – A spout commenter recently asked, “Who cares about the NFL?” This is who cares. The Eagles’ 21-17 victory over the Chiefs drew 28.96M viewers across ABC and ESPN, marking the largest audience for…

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Sea Isle – Yo the Dennisville spouter asking why Sea isle doesn’t give seniors a break on the price of beach tags. How about Taxpayers and homeowners. We don’t get a break on anything that the city charges for.

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