Little Egg Harbor Creates Community Advisory Board
Little Egg Harbor Mayor Ray Gormley said the township has received numerous inquiries from residents wanting to be part of a new community advisory board. At their Jan. 26 municipal meeting, the township committee adopted an ordinance creating the board.
The Little Egg Harbor Community Advisory Board will meet once a month to discuss community needs and make recommendations to the governing body. The board will have no powers to adopt policy, nor will members be paid.
Gormley said the committee should have no problem selecting 24 candidates for the board.
Two other ordinances were also adopted: 2017-01 defines laws limiting mobile signs, makes provisions for community uses, and increases the zoning fees for fences on commercial sites; ordinance 2017-02 refers to bulkhead construction.
Township Administrator Garrett Loesch said some companies that install bulkheads were getting their materials on-site in pieces and this means the inspector has to return to the site more than once. If the inspector has to return multiple times, the company will now be charged for the extra visits.
“This is to promote getting all the materials there at one time for inspection,” Gormley explained.
Township Engineer Jim Oris said the township has applied for a Safe Routes to Transit N.J. Department of Transportation grant that would be used to create curbs and sidewalks on Oak Lane between Route 9 and Radio Road. Oris explained that the low- and moderate-income housing apartment complex on the corner of Oak Lane and Radio Road is still viable. Oak Lane LLC received zoning board approval in April last year to construct 56 units of affordable housing.
Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said the town’s affordable housing obligation to provide low- and moderate-income housing is “around 300 units.” Because the township settled a lawsuit brought by the Fair Share Housing Center (advocates for affordable housing), they were not subject to a Jan. 19 N.J. Supreme Court decision that required communities to add the housing needs that accumulated over the 16-year “gap” period when COAH was unable to come up with a third round of housing obligation figures. Instead, the lower courts were appointed to settle the numbers.
Little Egg Harbor was among 13 Ocean County municipalities that settled in court.
Loesch said the township has received a favorable interest rate when refinancing its bonds: one-half percent lower than the previous rate. Loesch did not yet have the savings figure, he said.
Loesch also said the township’s taxable value is on the rise since the double whammy of falling real estate values in 2008 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“In talking with the tax office, over the last three years a lot of new homes have come back on line. The township was found to have lost $661 million in value, with $50 million due to Sandy. In 2014 we gained back $25 million; in 2015 we gained back $35 million; and in 2016 we gained back $52 million. These are very positive gains,” said Loesch.
During the public comment period, Osborn Island resident Ed Andrew read a letter to the township in which he suggested if the township wanted to increase the value of the waterfront properties, they should be looking to improve the lagoons.
“The lagoon properties will not grow in value if there is no good boating,” he said. He asked if the township had any plans to dredge the lagoons and improve the waterfront.
Gormley said that he had met with Stafford Mayor John Spodofora, Tuckerton Mayor Sue Marshall and Eagleswood Mayor Michael Pasternak about bolstering the back bays and barrier islands in order to break the energy of storms. “Spodofora would like all the towns to join together, and we hope to ask (Senator) Chris Connors and the 9th District for help and support.”
— Pat Johnson