Tuckerton Receives DCA Funds for Planning Purposes

May 06, 2016

After Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of Tuckerton borough and Little Egg Harbor Township, they were recipients of a grant offered through the state Department of Community Affairs to help with their post-Sandy planning for Reconstruction and Resiliency. The efforts of two planning experts from the nonprofit group New Jersey Future were gifted to the towns for two years, and David Kutner and Leah Yasenchak helped prepare the borough and township’s Strategic Recovery Planning Report. They were re-upped for an additional year in 2015.

During the May 2 Tuckerton municipal meeting, Borough Clerk Jenny Gleghorn said she had been contacted by the NJDCA to ask if the town needed any more help with planning as it had disaster funds left to put toward such efforts.

Gleghorn, the mayor and council found four additional areas: to prepare a reexamination of the Master Plan and update it, to prepare a plan for the historic center of the borough, to prepare a capital improvement plan and to prepare zoning amendments for resiliency.

Councilman John Schwartz, back from his winter respite in Florida, said the borough had sent out requests for proposals to two companies, and New Jersey Future responded to all of them. The same two planners from New Jersey Future, Kutner and Yasenchak, who know the borough well, will work on all the plans, and there will be no cost to the borough.

Mayor Sue Marshall said the council and the land use board should be discussing and thinking about how they want Tuckerton Beach to evolve after Councilman Keith Vreeland requested that an ordinance dealing with square footage of homes be tabled. At the April 21 land use board meeting, residents from Tuckerton Beach protested the need for a variance if they want to enclose the bottom of their newly elevated houses.

The variance was granted to the Provenzano household after it was calculated they had gone over the allowed square footage of living space by enclosing their pilings.

But Vreeland reported beach homeowners had said how enclosing the bottom space around the pilings would give the borough a neater appearance. “What do we want the beach to look like, houses on stilts or a cleaner, uniform appearance?” he asked. “It also means fewer sheds, and in the winter, people can store their equipment under the house.”

Vreeland did note that in case of a storm like Sandy, the breakaway walls could pose a problem. “Plus all the stuff that will be stored under there,” he said. But it was worth talking about.

Councilman Ron Peterson said enclosing the bottom of the houses also helps with energy efficiency.

Councilman Mike Santo reminded people that anything stored on the bottom floor is not covered by flood insurance.

Marshall said that at the past land use board meeting, Chairman Chris Bethmann had suggested the board and the council should “sit down and discuss what’s the vision for Tuckerton Beach as it rebuilds.”

Ordinance 11 was tabled until the legislative committee could get more input. Marshall suggested the people in the beach area voice their opinions by email or to the council in person.

The council also tabled Ordinance 8 that would have bonded $976,396 for improvements to the new town hall and carried an ordinance dealing with commercial trailers until the next meeting because it needed to be amended.

The board adopted Ordinance 9, which allows the borough to re-appropriate $166,047 in capital funds for new uses. Gleghorn explained the borough had a cache of money left in older projects that had been bonded, but not all the money had been spent. The borough is allowed to recapture those funds that had been sitting in accounts, some as long ago as 2007. Some of the money will be used for software programs for the police department and new computers for the construction office and the software to update new permits.  Borough Attorney Christopher J. Connors said the state does not allow bonded funds to be used for tax relief.

Because of a glitch in publishing, the borough postponed adopting its 2016 budget until the next meeting, on May 16.

The resurfacing of Parker Road is due to start this Friday, but is contingent on the weather, said Schwartz.

He said there are seven roads in total within the borough that will be worked on during this season: Parker, Marlin, Dolphin, South Green Street and Little Egg Harbor Boulevard in Tuckerton Beach will be paved by Mathis Construction and Arawak Paving, and these roads will be “crowned” to make passage easier during high tides. Main Street is going to be paved by the state Department of Transportation, and the intersection of Route 9 and North Green Street (Route 539) will be improved with a new turning lane, also by the DOT.

“Heron Road is in my back pocket because we have received grants to mill and pave it, but we may want to go the whole distance by replacing the water and sewer lines,” Schwartz said.

“There are a number of other things we have to look at in the borough. The borough owns a number of deteriorating bulkheads, and these are big-ticket items to replace: the bulkhead around the Grist Mill, Water Street by the creek and a section around Stewart’s (Root Beer). The two landings (historic Scow and Willow Landings in Tuckerton’s port area) are really in rough shape. We are going to start digging for grants; meanwhile, we will do whatever we can to keep them safe.”

Schwartz also had a bone to pick with residents and the media about calling the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation $1.2 million grant that Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor received in 2013 a dredging project. He said it was never a “dredging project” and should not be referred to as that. “It is a Marsh Restoration and Replenishment grant.”

The grant states silt will be removed from three lagoon communities and a 7-mile stream area (Thompson Creek) where it impedes boating and fishing, and maps of those areas have already been done and paid for.

The dredged material was to be put on sinking marshes to increase their elevation, but now the state Department of Environmental Protection is requiring more testing of the material to make sure that polluted silt doesn’t wind up on the marsh.

Schwartz said the shoreline restoration project has been extended another year with the proposed finish date June 2018.

Council President Sam Colangelo said the borough is exploring the possible use of an energy broker for the borough buildings only, not including the residents. This is not an energy aggregation program like the one Little Egg Harbor Township is looking at. “It’s only for the borough offices,” he said. “We’ll look at it, and if we don’t like it, we don’t do it.” The public works committee is also exploring placing solar panels on the garage.

The Ocean County Corrections workforce will be at the borough yard on May 9 to do some work. Colangelo again asked residents to call the public works department at 609-296-5058 before putting trash on the street.

Construction department revenue of $19,537 was down for the month of April with only 49 permits applied for and 84 inspections completed. Councilwoman Doris Mathisen said rebuilding on the beach is slowing. Code enforcement did 34 on-site inspections and 15 bulkhead inspections.

The Pride and Celebrations Committee will be showing an outdoor movie on May 14 at 8 p.m. at the All Wars Memorial ball field on Bay Avenue. The movie is “Back to the Future,” and a custom “time machine” DeLorean will be on site for photo ops. Rain cancels the event.

It was announced a golf outing at Sea Oaks Country Club to benefit the 4th of July committee is May 16, and the Tuckerton Library is hosting a tea party at Cuisine on the Green on May 14.

Councilman Ron Peterson said Police Chief Michael Caputo will be the keynote speaker during the May 20 Ocean County Police memorial ceremony to honor all police officers who have died on duty and paid the ultimate price for peacekeeping. The event is at 10 a.m. at the police academy in Lakewood.

Peterson said the borough has saved $2,000 by the donation of two boxes that will be used to collect old and unused prescription drugs. One of the boxes is a reused heavy mailbox and will be in the police station in borough hall; the other is portable and can be taken to events. The donation was made by the DART Prevention Coalition/ Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention.

Mayor Marshall said two separate entities had approached the borough desiring to purchase the historic grist mill on Tuckerton Creek that used to be the construction office. “We need to decide what we do with it; anything is better than having it sit empty.”

Schwartz also said that during the recent storm events, puddles on two streets were not draining, and he found out that borough easements for stormwater had been impacted by pilings being driven into them. “It’s kind of hard to empty when there’s a big plug in the middle.”

During the public portion of the meeting, Bill Severage from Paradise Cove suggested that neighbors help each other and the borough save money by sharing trash cans. “One less stop the truck has to make saves on brakes and equipment,” he said.

Nancy Speck of Wood Street asked people to come to the next meeting of the Greenwood Cemetery Old Home Society, held May 11 at 7 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Tuckerton, North Green Street. Joel Mott, also of Wood Street, volunteered to be part of the master plan review team and the historic center planning team.

The town hall, at 140 Main St., is draped in black bunting for former councilman Howard Francis. Francis served on the council between 1979 and 1987 and was instrumental in building up the public works, said Marshall. Colangelo said Francis was also a respected and honored member of the Red Men and served as both the state’s Great Sachem and the Grand Keeper of the Wampum. He was also instrumental in moving the town’s Native American statue from Camden to Tuckerton, said Colangelo. “Howard was a good man,” he said. 

— Pat Johnson


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