Middle Township Says no to Storing Ocean City Dredge Spoils

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Rocco Tedesco

Posted January 1, 2019

Township Committee this month denied approval for Cape Mining and Recycling to accept hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of silt dredged from Ocean City lagoons at its sand mining operation on Goshen Road.

“For me, this is about the history of Middle Township, and the history of the barrier islands dumping on Middle Township,” Committeeman Tim Donohue said during a Dec. 17 meeting. “It’s a long history. It’s not a pretty history. We have dumps all over this community. They call them the Stone Harbor dump, the Avalon dump. They’ve been a big burden on Middle Township.”

He said the township should learn from that history.

Both Mayor Michael Clark and Donohue declined Committeeman Jeff DeVico’s motion to take up a vote, so the motion died.

Representing the mining company, attorney Rocco Tedesco said, “You can’t find a better location to put this material than an active mining site.”

After the meeting, Tedesco declined to comment on the committee’s decision.

The township would have received about $150,000 as the host community if the site at 560 Goshen Road had taken in the maximum, which would have meant more than 250,000 cubic yards of silty material trucked in from Ocean City.

Neighbors turned out in force to oppose the plan. For about an hour, they raised concerns that the material would hurt property values and harm groundwater.

“It’s scary,” said resident Sean Dougherty. “I’m leaving it up to this Township Committee to take care of it.”

Fred Durst, another neighbor, told committee he is concerned about the smell and about contamination of well water. Others questioned placing the material near homes, Atlantic Cape Community College and the township recreation center.

The plan would be to store the material at the site for future use as fill or for other purposes. Ocean City is in the midst of a push to clear back bay lagoons for boating, but finding a site for the wet, silty material has been a problem. Approved dredge spoil sites in Ocean City fill quickly. The city has paid to haul the material to Lower Township sites and to a former landfill on the back bay of Wildwood.

As proposed, 75 trucks a day would take the material to the Cape Mining site, which has been used as a sand mining operation since the 1940s.

Citing previous testimony, Tedesco said the material would be tested to the second highest standard for fill under New Jersey law, and would have to be found safe for residential use.

“That means kids can roll around on it without any concern, Tedesco said.

Township Attorney Frank Corrado recommended a series of conditions be made part of any approval of the use of the site for dredge spoils, including an increase to the buffer between the site and residential properties.

In his comments, Donohue cited Cape Mining’s operation in Lower Township, where the state Department of Environmental Protection shut down a similar operation in spring 2017 over issues with how the material was stored, according to reports from the time.

He called Corrado’s proposed conditions sensible.

“But I have very sincere doubts about this company’s commitment to meeting those conditions based on the history of the project in Lower Township,” he said. “We’re better off not doing this.”

He said he would not support bringing any dredge spoils into Middle Township.

“I feel Ocean City’s pain, but I don’t feel it that badly,” he said. “My job is to protect the people of Middle Township.”

The matter originally came before Township Committee in July, when the three members put off taking a vote.

This was likely DeVico’s last meeting as commissioner. He lost his seat in the November election to challenger Theron ”Ike” Gandy, which tips the balance on the governing body to the Republicans 2-1. At the reorganization meeting Jan. 2, most in the township expect Donohue to replace Clark as mayor.

Source: Cape May County