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New Jersey Sues the Municipality That Repaired the Eroding Beach Despite a Restriction Following a Sandstorm.

Jersey coast sandstorms are growing.

New Jersey is suing a coastal town that restored fall storm beach damage against state orders.

North Wildwood, defiant, says it will set material to create a banned bulkhead on the beach next week and build the wall if a storm forecast for this weekend collapses the partially repaired dune.

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The state worries that the city’s work could worsen beach erosion.

On Thursday, a Superior Court judge scheduled a Jan. 17 hearing for the North Wildwood-DEP issue.

The judge did not immediately enjoin the town from erecting the bulkhead or making other emergency repairs.

Hurricane Ian’s leftovers destroyed sand dunes on some North Wildwood beaches in October, causing the disagreement.

North Wildwood requested emergency sand pile reconstruction from New Jersey environmental officials.

State denied. It happened.

New Jersey Sues the Municipality That Repaired the Eroding Beach Despite a Restriction Following a Sandstorm.

Mayor Patrick Rosenello told The Associated Press that situations have worsened since then.

“Practically every high tide has devastated the dune,” the mayor remarked Thursday. This weekend’s nor’easter might collapse that dune.

“If the dune falls, we will erect the bulkhead,” he said.

The state denied that the dune had worsened since October in court files and argued North Wildwood should not be allowed to break state rules.
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“North Wildwood must not be allowed to act in defiance of the Department of Environmental Protection through beach development activities that will cause serious harm to the ecosystem,” the state declared.

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“Restraining North Wildwood from installing the bulkhead is necessary to prevent permanent and irreparable harm to the environment, including the vegetated dunes, exceptional freshwater wetlands, transition area, and a critical wildlife habitat with threatened or endangered species at this location,” it added.

State-city disputes and fines are widespread, but beach conservation usually brings states and local communities together.

On Oct. 7, the DEP allowed the city to erect concrete “Jersey barriers” as a temporary preventative measure but prohibited it from touching the dunes without a full examination and approval of correct plans and permits.

North Wildwood disagreed and deployed bulldozers onto the beach to drive massive sand piles back.

The mayor warned of a 15-foot drop from the eroded dune to the beach below.

North Wildwood is part of a proposed multi-town beach project with Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, and Lower Township.
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Most of the Jersey Shore’s 127-mile shoreline gained replenished beaches after Superstorm Sandy.

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In August, the state anticipated that it would take until fall 2024 to start that project due to the many legal and real estate agreements needed.

The mayor said North Wildwood has spent more than $20 million on imported sand over the past decade, trucking tonnes from neighboring Wildwood, which has some of New Jersey’s widest beaches. The most recent bill was $3.8 million.

The agency also stated that North Wildwood had ignored a 2020 order to repair 12 acres of mature, vegetated dunes taken for a different unlawful seawall project.

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