Posted January 22, 2019
AVALON - Avalon Borough Council approved the purchase of wetland mitigation credits Jan. 9 for slightly over $1 million.
The expense will allow the borough to meet the state and federal permit requirements related to maintaining the once temporary road through the wetlands which the borough built to support the dredging project begun in 2014. The 2,156-foot road runs from Avalon Boulevard to a confined disposal facility (CDF) on Graven’s Island.
The road was built to allow access to the CDF in support of a multi-year dredging project involving Avalon and Middle Township, along with the State and the Army Corps of Engineers. The road was approved through state and federal permits as a temporary structure which the borough would be required to remove after the conclusion of the project.
The CDF property is owned by Avalon but sits in Middle Township. The assessed value of the 285-acre parcel is just over $400,000. The property is tax exempt.
Following the dredging project, Avalon lobbied state and federal officials to keep the road in place in order to minimize the cost of future dredging efforts, including projects done by federal and state agencies.
The borough has received approval to keep the road provided that it purchases the mitigation credits required to offset the area of disturbance to the wetlands.
At the council meeting, Council member John McCorristin assured taxpayers that the borough would recover the cost of the mitigation credits through fee-for-use arrangements.
As part of the negotiation to keep the road in place, the borough was able to purchase credits from a wetlands mitigation bank approved by federal and state agencies.
The Cycle of Dredging
Coastal communities face a never-ending challenge to keep back bay waters safe and navigable. The projects require both federal and state environmental permits which in turn mandate plans for the location and removal of the soils produced by the dredging.
During the most recent dredge project, the CDF was able to hold over 100,000 cubic yards of dredge materials for dewatering and eventual removal.
Another problem the coastal communities face is finding an approved location for the soils after dewatering. A recent attempt to relocate dewatered dredge material from Ocean City at a mining and excavation site in Middle Township was defeated when the mining company could not gain needed township permits.
A recent dredging project in neighboring Stone Harbor was twice interrupted over problems at the dewatering site, a marina parking lot in an area where residents complained about the impact this had on the quality of life in the area near the marina.
Having a safe and secure location for deposit of the dredge material, even if the material must eventually be removed, provides a regional site in support of dredging projects in the future.
“This is a milestone accomplishment for the Borough of Avalon as we have been able to achieve what many believed was unachievable,” stated Mayor Martin Pagliughi in a statement.