As a courtesy to our SHPOA Members, we’re bringing you a summary of each Stone Harbor Work Session and Council Meeting. Intended as summaries, these intentionally don’t have a lot of details and are not a substitute for the official Borough minutes.
CFO Jim Craft presented a detailed, line-by-line overview of the 2023 Borough capital improvement and water and sewer budget requests. The total request for capital improvements is $6,1882,150. Of that, $1,315,650 is to be funded in the operating budget; $170,000 is to be funded by grants; $3,958,175 by bond ordinance; $208,325 is the 5% down payment on the bonds, and $530,000 is to be funded by prior ordinances.
The total request for water and sewer is $4,342,000. Of that, $185,000 is to be funded in the operating budget and $4,157,000 by bond ordinance.
Firehouse for Training
Fire Chief Roger Stanford noted that the firehouse will be used as a training facility for safety classes run by the NJ Division of Fire Safety, allowing staff to take the classes without traveling to other locations. A resolution to this effect is set to be considered at the next Council meeting.
The Borough’s only ladder truck is now 13 years old. The practice is to replace trucks when they reach 15 years of age. Unfortunately, due to several factors, delivery time for new trucks has risen from a lead time of one year to three to four years. The new truck, which will be ordered this year, will arrive in 2026-2027 when the current truck will be 16-17 years old. In addition, the costs have also risen steeply. Funds for the new truck are included in this year’s budget ($1.34 million).
No Smoking and Unruly Persons
Police Chief Tom Schutta reported that the Borough is currently drafting an ordinance to implement a smoke-free environment in public spaces, including parks, beaches, and the business district. The ordinance addresses both NJ state regulations and Borough regulations; it should be ready for consideration at the next Council meeting.
A second ordinance would add “breach of the peace” language to several existing ordinances. This will give police an extra tool to take enforcement a step further when handling non-compliant individuals.
For example, if a person violates a municipal ordinance, the breach of the peace language would not apply, but if the person is unruly and noncompliant, the new language will allow police to detain them.
Invasive Species Ordinance
Councilmember Robin Casper defined the terms of a new ordinance addressing the planting and containment of invasive species, defined as plants, vines, and vegetation that grow out of place and can cause damage. The ordinance will control planting and cultivation as well as containment of invasive and nuisance plants (e.g., bamboo). Such plants that currently exist may be retained, but they must be contained to prevent their spread.
Public Works Updates
Public Works Director Manny Parada reported on a number of issues:
•Municipal Public Access Plan (MPAP). With this plan, required by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Borough outlines how it will provide the public with access to the tidal shorelines and waters. The DEP has been unresponsive to the Borough’s requests for approval of the Borough’s MPAP update, submitted on November 17, 2022. Without an MPAP, the Borough cannot get a General Permit 2 (GP2) which is needed for the Borough to be allowed to place materials on the beach, such as access mats, lifeguard stands, and concession stands. With the approach of Memorial Day, the need for the MPAP is becoming urgent. Methods to get a response from DEP are being considered.
•Emergency Authorization. There is currently no road access to Stone Harbor Point. The Borough needs an Emergency Authorization (EA) from DEP to act quickly and has submitted plans to DEP for a new roadway; however, DEP still has not issued the EA. A resolution is set to be considered in the regular meeting declaring an emergency situation at the Point that will hopefully impel DEP to issue the EA so the road can be built before Memorial Day.
•Beach Nourishment. Initial beach surveys are currently being conducted on the state of the beaches and will be submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE). The ACE will then determine which options for sand placement will be selected. Work in Avalon will start on March 10 and, depending on ACE determinations, will begin in Stone Harbor on April 1 to April 14, and completed by May 13 to June 19.
•Stone Harbor Oceanfront Feasibility Study. The Feasibility Study evaluates options for long-term beach maintenance in Stone Harbor. As part of the study, a numerical model was created that can be used to assess methods to prevent storm damage. The model was tested using data from a past storm, and the effectiveness of the modeling was excellent. It will be a useful tool for determining responses to future storm events.
•Disaster Debris Management Plan. The Borough is required by DEP to develop a plan to handle debris resulting from a major storm hit. The plan being developed can currently address debris disposal from Category One through Category 3 storms. However, a direct hit on Stone Harbor of Category 4 and 5 storms would cause serious problems. Because such storms would affect Avalon and Wildwood at the same time, and because all three municipalities use the same municipal disposal site, that site would be overwhelmed. Further planning will continue.
•Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. The Borough’s MS4 permit, issued under the Municipal Stormwater Regulation Program of the DEP, will expire in 2027. To renew it, the Borough must meet 58 stringent requirements, including developing stormwater pollution prevention, stormwater management, and mitigation plans (the current flood mitigation plan will address this last requirement); addressing erosion issues, herbicide use, and road salt and asphalt storage to prevent runoff. The plan is currently being worked on. NJ announced $19 million in grant money to assist municipalities with this effort. However, because we are a Tier A Municipality, we are only eligible for $25,000 of that money.
The Council discussed a measure that would provide for the delineation of public and non-public areas in municipal buildings for the purpose of protecting confidential information. The measure was sent back to the Administration and Finance Committee for further deliberation.
Borough Engineer Marc DeBlasio provided an update on the Community Rating System (CRS) points issued under the National Flood Insurance Program. The Borough’s rating of 5 under the program was in danger of rising to 7 or 8, resulting in higher rates for flood insurance in Stone Harbor. However, DeBlasio’s team has identified an action plan that he estimates will secure 1,300 CRS points, securing our 5 rating, and possibly securing a 4 rating, which would lower flood insurance rates. Work continues.
Cape May County will award $400,000 under the American Rescue Plan Act Fiscal Recovery Fund to assist municipalities with projects that are currently underway addressing water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure. The Council committees will decide which projects to put forward for Borough’s application for the funds.
Form of Government
Borough Solicitor Marcus Karavan presented a review of Stone Harbor’s form of government. New Jersey law (NJS 40A:60-1 through 8) provides the factors for establishing the borough form of government used in Stone Harbor. Karavan reviewed the powers and duties of the Mayor and Council under that statute. That statute can be viewed here:
The Mayor and Council recognized and honored the 21-year career of Staff Sergeant Greg Jackson who retired from the Police Department on February 1.
SHPOA Sustainability Committee Chair Geoff Woolery spoke on behalf of SHPOA about revisions to the rules governing the leasing of boat slips at the 81st Street Marina. He thanked Council Members for making themselves available over the weekend for discussions with SHPOA regarding requested changes to parts of the proposed new policy. He also cautioned that the revised language could be ambiguous regarding the right of first refusal and handling of “legacy” applications, an issue raised by Council Member Bunny Parzyck in a previous meeting. Council agreed that there would be further discussion on the legacy issue.
Finally, on a different subject, he offered SHPOA assistance regarding ongoing delays with DEP approval of the Public Access policy.
Ordinances and Resolutions
The Council addressed a number of ordinances and resolutions. They included:
•Ordinance 1624, clarifies responsibilities for the removal of brush, grass, weeds, debris, overreaching tree limbs, trash, and garbage. Passed on first reading, to be taken up on March 21, 2023.
•Ordinance 1625, regarding access of boats to the beaches. Passed on first reading, to be taken up on March 21, 2023.
•Ordinance 1626, regarding an application process for use of the docks at the 81st Street Marina. This ordinance contains a provision that rules and regulations concerning guidelines for the use of the facilities may be established by resolution. Passed on first reading, to be taken up on March 21, 2023.
•Ordinance 1627, regarding the use of beaches and pavilions for marriages or civil ceremonies. Passed on first reading, to be taken up on March 21, 2023.
•Resolution 2023-S-64 authorizes DeBlasio & Associates to provide engineering and construction services for the installation of tidal valves on 93rd, 94th, and 95th Streets at a cost of $18,500. Passed
•Resolution 2023-S-65 provides rules and regulations regarding permit guidelines for the 81st Street Marina and establishes fees. The text of the resolution as it appeared was amended at the meeting.
The changes are:
2. The season boat slips at the 81st Street Marina shall be issued to power vessels and sail craft only.
4.a. Proof of power vessel or sail craft ownership with correct registration is required. The owner of the power vessel or sail craft must be the same name as the lessee. Passed as amended.
— Resolution 2023-S-66 establishes fees and procedures for the use of beaches and pavilions. Passed.
— Resolution 2023-S-67 establishes the existence of a public safety emergency exists at Stone Harbor Point. Passed.
The Council moved to a private executive session after which the Mayor announced that she will be reaching out to individuals to determine interest in serving as Acting Borough Administrator.
For documents discussed at the meeting, please click: http://stoneharbornj.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Special-Meeting-Agenda-February-28-2023.pdf
To view a recording, please click: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhgXDIOsyno
To read past Stone Harbor Council Meeting summaries, please click here: https://www.stoneharborpoa.org/category/borough-meeting-summaries/
To watch recordings of past meetings, please click here: https://stoneharbornj.org/agendameetings/watch-mayor-and-council-meetings-online/