Posted on September 5, 2022
After more than seven years of preparations, the city is ready to submit its application to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection for a citywide dredging permit. Dredging Beach Thorofare over the next five to 10 years will not only improve safety for boaters maneuvering the backbay area, but it will also benefit homeowners who have riparian rights into the water.
In his report to the Board of Commissioners Thursday, Sept. 1, city engineer Ed Dennis Jr. of Remington & Vernick said Stockton University has completed its sampling and testing studies and all other documentation has been completed. The city will submit the application within a week, he said.
“We’re ready to roll,” Dennis said. “It’s a major step.”
When the application is approved, bayfront residents who have homes with riparian rights will be able to dredge their boat slips and canals without having to apply for their own dredging permit. The citywide permit will save them time and money.
A second application, called a Tidelands application, will be made to allow dredge materials to be put into Shelter Island, which is jointly owned by Margate and Ventnor, and will greatly reduce the cost of disposing the dredge material for two reasons: the city already owns the land and Shelter Island is close to the area that needs to be dredged and would eliminate the need to truck or pump dredging materials to other sites.
Both towns have agreed to use half of the capacity available in a 28-foot-deep hole, named Dredge Hole 90, that was dredged in the 1920s to build up Ventnor Heights and the upper end of Margate. If the city is permitted to use Shelter Island, filling the hole with dredge material will create a habitat where marine life can thrive. Currently, the hole is too deep to sustain any marine life. The dredge hole has the capacity to hold 470,000 cubic yards of dredge material. Margate needs about 166,000 cubic yards for a 5- to 10-year dredging project.
Although Ventnor currently has no need for dredging, it agreed to reimburse Margate at a rate of 33 cents per cubic yard within 60 days of Ventnor placing materials in the hole up to 235,000 cubic yards.
A joint permit process meeting has been scheduled with the NJDEP and Army Corps of Engineers to obtain formal direction on how to proceed with the dual application, Dennis said.
Solicitor John Scott Abbott, who lives on the bayfront, said residents often ask him to clarify what the dredging project means for them.
Dennis said there would be more public outreach to allow homeowners to enter into an agreement with the city’s contractor or dredge on their own.
“We will include in our bid package the ability of our contractor to offer to private homeowners to dredge their slips under our permit,” Dennis said.
Further clarifying, Dennis said, “The permit will save private property owners the process of having to get their own permit to do their own dredging, and they can pursue that dredging under our future dredging contractor. Or when the permit is approved, they can hire their own contractor to do their own dredging under our permit. It’s been done in other municipalities this way. That’s the blueprint of what we are proposing to do.”
“The word should start to filter out, because some people will take advantage of it,” Abbott said. “I believe it even applies to our marinas and all waterfront properties. It’s citywide.”
Homeowners can start investigating having their riparian property dredged, Abbott said.
Margate started moving on the dredging permit back in 2015 with the hopes that a long-term dredging project will preserve existing marina businesses along Amherst Avenue, help the city maintain its navigational waters and preserve property values for bayfront property owners.