Posted February 11, 2019
BRICK, NJ — The need for an updated hydgrographic survey means dredging at Traders Cove Marina remains on hold while Brick Township continues to work through the process of getting a permit to do the work.
Efforts to renew a dredging permit have been under way since November, when the state Department of Environmental Protection notified the township that dredging already conducted at the marina on Mantoloking Road during the fall was unauthorized and issued a violation notice, after it was discovered township permits had expired.
On Tuesday, the state Department of Environmental Protection met with Brick Township officials to go over the details of a technical deficiency letter issued that cited the need for the survey.
"Please provide the updated hydrographic survey and an estimated volume of material to be removed from the dredge area. The NJDEP will utilize this survey and volume calculation to prepare a Sediment Sampling and Analysis Plan for the remaining volume of dredge material to be removed from the basin."
On Tuesday night, Township Councilman Jim Fozman railed about the DEP letter, criticizing the decision to hire ARH Associates of Hammonton in late 2018 to fill out the permit application.
"Doesn't anybody know how to fill out permits?" Fozman said. "Will the taxpayers again have to foot the bill for the deficiencies in an application?"
DEP officials said Fozman's comments were not an accurate portrayal of the issue regarding the updated hydrographic survey.
"The timing of the performing of a hydrographic survey is not a bad effort on the part of the township," said Caryn Shinske, a DEP spokesperson. "These types of surveys take some time because of the various components involved – the actual survey work to be done, and then transcribing the data for a plan."
A hydrographic survey measures the depth of the bottom of a body of water, usually using sonar, and gives a complete picture of the bottom, from rocks and lumps to debris such as sunken vessels, according to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Multibeam sonar and side scan sonar (used in more shallow waters) are combined with information gained by measuring and predicting the rise and fall of tides and location information to produce a final survey showing the depth of water throughout the surveyed area.
Fozman has been criticizing township employees over the Traders Cove permits since early November, He brought the issue up at the Nov. 5 Township Council meeting, ripping the town for doing the work without having proper permits in place. Fozman said he called the DEP to have it investigate dredging after seeing dirt piled behind the municipal building — material that had been dredged from the marina. The DEP issued a notice of violation Nov. 30. Read more: Traders Cove Dredging Draws DEP Violation Notice For Brick
Business Administrator Joanne Bergin said the township thought its DEP permits for the original dredging that took place at Traders Cove were still in force. Officials later learned one expired in 2013 and one expired in 2017. A federal permit was good through Dec. 31, 2018.
At the Dec. 18 council meeting, Bergin said the expired permit issue was a mistake by a township employee.
"There was absolutely mistakes made here," Bergin said, as Fozman spoke during the public comment portion of that meeting. "More diligence was needed to ensure our permits were up to date, accurately filed and that we did the project in full compliance."
At the end of that meeting she reiterated that it was a mistake and said the difficult part was that when municipal employees make a mistake "it can become part of the public discourse." But she objected to "the continuous belittling and criticizing in a public forum of our employees."
"These are real people," she said, and urged that they not be caught up "in someone's negative personal agenda."
Fozman since has been particularly critical of Bergin over the handling of the issue, and on Tuesday demanded to know whether ARH would have to be paid more money or whether the town would have to hire someone else to do the permit.
According to the DEP letter, the current application was not rejected; it says the permit application will not be considered complete until the hydrographic survey is completed and sampling of the previously dredged materials, which are at the township's public works yard, has been finished.
The DEP letter did not indicate that the portion of the application submitted so far has to be redone.
Bergin said the hiring of ARH to fill out the dredging permit was no different than any other issue where the township uses its pool of professionals for specific projects.
Fozman has been at odds with Mayor John Ducey and the rest of the council since last spring, when Ducey ran against him for chair of the Democratic Municipal Committee. Fozman was angered by Ducey's last-minute decision to run and changed his political affiliation to Republican shortly thereafter, despite years of ardent service as a Democrat. Fozman's wife, Vera, was the treasurer of the gubernatorial campaign of John Wisniewski, who lost to Gov. Phil Murphy in the Democratic primary in 2017. Fozman and Ducey were running mates for Township Council when both first were elected to the governing body.
DEP officials have said they are monitoring the Traders Cove issue. Below is the techincal deficiency letter from the DEP to the township. In addition to noting the need for the hydrographic survey, it spells out certain other steps that must be taken along with the survey.