Dump Sites Explored for Little Egg Harbor Dredge Spoils

Oct 18, 2017

Little Egg Harbor Business Administrator Garrett Loesch asked the mayor and township committee to rescind two resolutions passed last month that are part of a package of resolutions dealing with dredging lagoons and waterways.

Loesch said he had spoken to Mayor Ray Gormley about the resolution that directs the township engineer to investigate areas that might be used as dredge spoils deposit sites, and also take tipping fee bids from the owners of these areas. He also asked to rescind a resolution that allows the mayor to change the state permit obtained by the Osborn Island Residents Association to reflect the dumpsite location or locations.

Loesch spoke as a resident during the public portion of the Oct. 12 municipal meeting.

Because Gormley had not named any of the sites except for the township’s public works yard, which could only accept a small amount of material, Loesch said it had caused him and his family and other residents living on Bridge Road anxiety because there are two gravel pits not far from Bridge Road.

“There are very few potential locations to accommodate such spoils, and without naming such sites, you are seeking bids for tipping fees without requiring NJDEP (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection) approval, virtually approving these sites before getting state permits,” said Loesch. “Our concerns are heightened as I own a tract of land near one of these unnamed sites. In fact, all our families’ homes are on that site. All of our homes are relying on well water and we do not have any access to any other source. How can any homeowner be assured of their water staying healthy and uncontaminated with a dredge spoils site within close proximity?”

Loesch said he understood that some of the mud in the lagoons has already been tested by the DEP and found to be within safety parameters, but he was unconvinced that would be safe enough for drinking water.

“We want our properties, our lifestyles and our legacies protected from these types of troubles.”

Loesch also said the resolution confirming Gormley as the representative in altering the dredge spoils site took all responsibility off the rest of the committee.

“You must avoid personal agendas under the cloak of doing good for the (waterfront) residents. After all, as was said before, you are a committee of five, not one.”

Loesch then said if a site nearest to his house became a dredge spoils site, he would consider it retaliation for a lawsuit that he has brought against the mayor and members of the committee.

At that point, township attorney Jean Cipriani told the mayor and committee not to respond to his concerns. “Since Mr. Loesch has made reference to pending litigation and many members are involved in the same litigation, I would suggest no statement be made from the dais. You may consult with the counselor representing you, but I’m suggesting you make no statement now in this matter.”

Committeeman Dave Schlick asked Cipriani if what was said about the mayor having sole say about where dredge spoils site would be located was correct. “When we passed that resolution, did we lose representation?”

“No, I don’t think that’s correct,” said the lawyer. “He seems to be referencing information he has found in his professional capacity, but no, I do not believe that’s a correct recitation of the resolutions.”

Cipriani said any contracts always have to come back to the committee for approval.

Any owner of a potential site would have to apply to the DEP for a dumping permit, she added, and anyone could do that anyway without the consent of the township.

Debbie Allen of Bridge Road asked if residents living next to a potential site, or the general public, would have the ability to comment on a project. “Who determines whether these sites are appropriate for dumping dredge material?” asked Allen.

Township engineer Jim Oris said he believed there would be a public process if the DEP were to approve a site.

Gormley said, “Let me make this perfectly clear: we will continue to look at additional sites. The NJDEP has purchased a 200-acre site off the Atlantic City Expressway and earmarked it for dredge spoils. We are in the process of seeing if that site is open to all towns.

“We have to explore all opportunities, all the chances for this project. I got a call this week that the Deptford landfill is being closed and they are looking for dredge material from both Margate and Ocean City. Of course, that’s far away, but we are exploring every avenue we can.”

“But my fear is once you open an area up to accept dredge spoils, it could come from anywhere,” said Allen.

“We’re exploring every avenue we have, trying to find a creative way that doesn’t impact everyone in our community negatively and what’s fair to the waterfront,” said Gormley. “We have gone over every inch of the meadows and we have a couple of ideas and maybe if these come through it will solve all of our problems.

“There will be a meeting in Trenton on Tuesday (Oct. 17), and if we get some good answers, this could all be moot,” said Gormley.

Oris said the township has taken steps to evaluate sites within a radius of the township. “There has been no site selection. We are in the process of reviewing sites that could be suitable and not pose any environmental concerns.”

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

 

 

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