What will it take to stop Jersey Shore town from bulldozing its beach? $12M in fines hasn’t done it

Jul 7, 2023, 8:23 AM

NORTH WILDWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Not even $12 million worth of fines is enough to stop a Jersey Shore town from bulldozing sand on its beach to bolster eroded spots in defiance of state environmental officials.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says North Wildwood once again carried out unauthorized repairs to its eroding dunes, most recently on June 5 without state approval and in violation of a February court order imposed by a judge trying to sort out the decade-long sand storm between the two parties.

On Thursday, DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette wrote to North Wildwood officials offering one final attempt to resolve the matter without imposing additional penalties, and warning that the city’s conduct jeopardizes funding for future beach protection projects.

Describing himself as “perplexed” by North Wildwood’s actions, LaTourette wrote that the city “has repeatedly engaged in destructive and illegal conduct in the name of tourism and, supposedly, public safety. This is wrongheaded and it must stop.”

Mayor Patrick Rosenello said the state is to blame for failing to facilitate the same sort of government beach replenishment project in his city that most of the rest of the Jersey Shore has been receiving for decades.

“The DEP needs to spend more time doing the job of protecting the Jersey Shore and less time on threats and intimidation,” he said. “If they would just do their job, none of this would have happened, and all of it goes away. Truly amazing.”

The city recently erected signs at the entrances to its beaches with photos and phone numbers of LaTourette and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, with a message saying, “These two individuals are directly responsible for the state’s inaction on replenishing North Wildwood’s beaches.”

North Wildwood appears unfazed by the state’s fines and threats of more to come: It is suing the state for $21 million, to recoup what it says is the cost of trucking sand in to its eroded beaches for a decade.

The standoff between the city — a prime vacation destination for Philadelphians — and the state centers on the fact that North Wildwood has been last in line for beach replenishment carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, due in part to difficulty in gathering necessary approvals from property owners. That long-sought project is finally moving forward, but won’t happen until at least 2025.

Because of that, parts of the city’s beaches have become badly eroded, prompting the city to act on its own to shore up the dunes when it feels they have become endangered — often without permission from the state.

The DEP says that each action involving heavy equipment moving sand around has weakened and reduced the height of the dunes, actually making things worse while destroying natural plants and animal habitat.

The two parties reached a temporary truce in late May when erosion created steep cliffs where beach entrances had been, a dangerous condition just before the start of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The state granted a one-time authorization to do emergency repairs to the beachfront on that occasion.

It did not approve the June 5 dune work, for which the city sought approval the next day, after the work was virtually completed. But Rosenello said the city notified the DEP in advance of what it planned to do on the beach.

He also said the city considered the erosion preceding the June 5 work to be an extension of the same problem that led to the state granting emergency authorization in May. Therefore, he said, the city was justified in fixing the dunes again.

“It was the exact same work in the exact same place,” he said. “There’s so little of this dune left that we don’t need a direct hit from a hurricane for it to be completely gone.”

LaTourette said the DEP “has been willing to resolve millions in penalties owed by the city for its repeated illegal and environmentally destructive activities.”

But he said North Wildwood must “immediately cease and desist from this pattern and practice of violating the law. You are placing the public safety, environment, and the city’s access to continued financial support for shore protection at risk.”


Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC

United States News

Members of the U.S. Secret Service look on as Republican presidential candidate former President Do...

Associated Press

The Secret Service acknowledges denying some past requests by Trump’s campaign for tighter security

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — The Secret Service now acknowledges it denied some requests by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign for increased security at his events in the years before the assassination attempt on him at a recent rally. In the immediate aftermath of the July 13 attack, the law enforcement agency had denied […]

5 minutes ago

Associated Press

Russia says it scrambled fighter jets to intercept U.S. bomber planes over Barents Sea

Russia said Sunday it scrambled fighter jets to intercept two U.S. military long-range bomber aircraft that approached the Russian border over the Barents Sea in the Arctic. “The crews of the Russian fighters identified the aerial target as a pair of U.S. Air Force B-52H strategic bombers,” Moscow’s defense ministry wrote on the social media […]

40 minutes ago

FILE - Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle attends a news conference, June 4, 2024, in Chicago...

Associated Press

Secret Service chief noted a ‘zero fail mission.’ After Trump rally, she’s facing calls to resign

WASHINGTON (AP) — When safeguard the American president and other dignitaries, she said she would talk to agents in training about the “awesome responsibility” of their job. “This agency and the Secret Service has a zero fail mission,” Cheatle, who is now director of the agency, said in 2021 during a Secret Service podcast called […]

1 hour ago

Donna Sybert, Managing Editor of the Butler Eagle newspaper, holds a Special Edition of the paper d...

Associated Press

The biggest of stories came to the small city of Butler. Here’s how its newspaper met the moment

BUTLER, Pa. (AP) — When gunshots echoed at the Trump rally where she was working, Butler Eagle reporter Irina Bucur dropped to the ground just like everyone else. She was terrified. She hardly froze, though. Bucur tried to text her assignment editor, through spotty cell service, to tell him what was going on. She took […]

7 hours ago

Janet Jarrett shows a photo of her sister, Pamela Jarrett, she keeps on her phone at the home they ...

Associated Press

Heat-related Texas deaths climb after Beryl left millions without power for days or longer

SPRING, Texas (AP) — As the temperature soared in the Houston-area home Janet Jarrett shared with her sister after losing electricity in Hurricane Beryl, she did everything she could to keep her 64-year-old sibling cool. But on their fourth day without power, she awoke to hear Pamela Jarrett, who used a wheelchair and relied on […]

8 hours ago

FILE - People walk past the Fiserv Forum ahead of the 2024 Republican National Convention, Thursday...

Associated Press

With GOP convention over, Milwaukee weighs the benefits of hosting political rivals

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Downtown Milwaukee turned red last week as thousands of Republican National Convention delegates and other party stalwarts gathered in Wisconsin’s largest Democratic stronghold to formally rally behind Donald Trump as their candidate for president in the pivotal swing state. Outside the security zone where the convention took place, residents grumbled, ignored or […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

What will it take to stop Jersey Shore town from bulldozing its beach? $12M in fines hasn’t done it