Little Egg Harbor Talks Garbage, Lagoons

Mar 14, 2018

Little Egg Harbor Mayor Ray Gormley was absent for the March 8 municipal meeting when two ordinances were introduced to give clarity to what businesses, nonprofits and government entities in the township can have their garbage picked up by the municipality. The garbage pick-up controversy has become part of every Little Egg Harbor Township meeting since Committeeman Dave Schlick raised the issue in January.

When the township’s codebook was redone in 2007, the section dealing with garbage collection (section 293) stated that only residential properties would receive weekly collections, but a different ordinance under “Land Use Regulation” (section 15) stated that new businesses would have to pay to have their garbage collected. This allowed for some businesses, such as  Mayor Gormley’s “My Three Sons Produce and Seafood Market,” to be grandfathered and continue to have their garbage picked up by the township.

The two new ordinances introduced on Thursday were fashioned to allow the businesses, nonprofits and government entities that have been getting the service to retain it, but in the case of businesses, only as long as they remain in the same hands. Once they are sold to a new owner, the practice would stop. The second ordinance would remove the verbiage pertaining to garbage collection from the Land Use section of the book.

Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said she wanted to certify what has been the current practice since 2007. “If you want me to go in a different direction, you have a great deal of latitude,” she told Schlick, who objected to the two ordinances being introduced that evening.

“I only received the packet this afternoon, and one day is not enough time to create an ordinance,” said Schlick. He tried to have the ordinances tabled, but there was no second to his motion.

The township will have a public hearing on the two ordinances on March 22.

Schlick said 31 entities get the benefit of having their trash bins emptied by the township, of which nine are municipal entities, four are nonprofits and 18 are businesses. Conversely, 168 businesses in the township must pay to have their garbage hauled by a commercial company, “which is ridiculous,” he said.

Schlick also said there was another committee member who benefited from the “grandfathering,” but he would talk about that with the attorney in private.

Schlick asked Cipriani who had ordered her to write the ordinances; she said it was just time to start the process of making the law fit the practice, and since it was just the introduction, the committee could tweak it.

Schlick voted “absolutely not” to the introduction while Deputy Mayor Barbara Jo Crea, Committeeman John Kehm and Committeewoman Lisa Stevens voted yes.

An ordinance establishing a “Trap Neuter and Spay” program for feral cat colonies that was scheduled for public hearing and adoption was tabled until the March 22 meeting. Stevens said she had heard from too many residents about the ordinance and it needed more thought.

In other business, the township reentered a three-year shared-services agreement with the Little Egg Harbor School District to provide snow and ice removal and to service BOE equipment and vehicles.

The long-awaited Marsh Restoration Projects in Little Egg and Tuckerton are set to begin this spring, and the township voted to divert $117,221 National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funds and $75,053 from other funds, from the proposed thin-layer deposition of dredge materials (now disallowed by the NJDEP) to the creation of restoring shorelines. Iowa Court in Little Egg and Little Egg Harbor Boulevard in Tuckerton are the recipients of this work.

Township Engineer Jason Worth said there is much more than this available from the $2.1 million NFWF grant obtained three years ago.

Worth reported the township has received $350,000 from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to pave Maryland Road in Mystic Island.

A resolution authorizing a schedule “C” agreement with Ocean County to pave roads in Little Egg this year includes Candle Lake Drive, the rest of Mohican Lane in Mystic Shores and Firehouse Drive.

Worth had also met with the county engineers since the last municipal meeting and reported they are preparing to pave Railroad Avenue from Thomas Avenue to Tuckerton.

He also updated the news on the Park and Ride commuter lot planned for the corner of Route 539 and Poorman’s Parkway near the Garden State Parkway interchange. “The plan was to pave 27 parking spaces and bank 29, but now they are paving all 49 spaces.”

During the public portion of the meeting, Craig Verscheck said he was positive that New Jersey Transit would be stopping at the Park and Ride between its run from Atlantic City to Toms River and on to New York City.

“I’m the vice chairman of the Ocean County Transportation Advisory Board, and nine years ago I came up with the idea for the park and ride, and I can tell you that Route # 319 will service the Park and Ride. They are definitely committed to stopping, and the plans include a bus-loading area,” said Verscheck. “New Jersey Transit will stop as long as there is a want.”

Dave Fuller, a member of the Osborn Island Residents Association, asked the engineer if he had a timeline yet for the lagoon dredging in and around Osborn Island. Worth said he believed the township would go out to bid the project this year.

Lou Capalizzi from Mystic Island congratulated the OIRA for its persistence in getting its lagoons dredged and said residents of Mystic have formed their own “dredge association” and are now 400 strong.

“We had a meeting at the Italian American Club, and 60 people showed up. Our first goal is to get a permit started.”

Worth said some of the lagoons in Mystic east of Radio Road and west of Big Creek were part of the initial NFWF studies and surveys. He said it was determined that 58,000 cubic yards of material would need to be dredged from these to aid their navigation: 40,000 cubic yards east of Radio Road and 18,000 from west of Big Creek.

“The town had to pay a large fee (to the NJDEP) so there would be no new permit fees (for those areas),” said Worth.

But another Mystic resident asked why the township couldn’t get the entire lagoon dredging permits and dredging on all the waterways done at once, rather than piecemeal.

Business Administrator Garrett Loesch explained the dredging projects would be paid for by special assessments levied on homeowners on waterways, but that to do a tax assessment, the improvement had to be done first and the township would have to bond (borrow) the money. To do the entire township would require more bonding power than the township has (think equity loan for a house). And so the projects must be done piecemeal through capital projects.

Osborn Island is the first project because those residents took it upon themselves to pay for the NJDEP permits, spending upward of $100,000.

The discussion then turned to whether the township would allow a vote to take place from the OIRA or just decide to levy the tax on the waterfront properties on Osborn.

Cipriani said the township could levy the tax assessment as it does for water and sewer projects, but the committee prefers to let a two-thirds majority of the taxpayers vote for it.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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