WILDWOOD CREST - The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued notices of violation to Wildwood Crest for disrupting a former dune area, north of Rambler Road, to accommodate storage for the beach patrol.
According to the violations, six sheds, trailers, lifeguard stands, fencing, and a stone-filled area on which they sit, which used to be dunes, violate state statutes.
“Wildwood Crest met with the DEP and agreed to restore the area to its pre-disturbance condition. DEP expects to receive a plan detailing the removal of structures and restoration by June 1,” Larry Hajna, press officer, DEP, wrote, in an email to the Herald.
Mayor Don Cabrera said the sheds have been there for some time, and the DEP noticed them after the Crest applied for Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) permits to install foot showers and improve beach entrances.
The DEP took aerial photos of the borough’s beaches when considering that permit application, which revealed the sheds were not in compliance, Cabrera said.
He added that the DEP told him they would not impose fines or other penalties if the area was restored, and the borough doesn't plan on retaining any special counsel on the matter.
The only cost to the city would be for relocating the sheds, as well as planting new dunes, Cabrera said.
“We’re trying to figure out where we were going to put all of our equipment for our beach patrol. We’ve got thousands of people on the beach and thousands of dollars that we got to keep our eyes on. Nonetheless, we're going to probably restore the area. What’s holding it up right now is we have to find locations to store this stuff that was in the sheds,” he added.
Cabrera said he understands the DEP’s role in protecting the oceanfront, but it was not an area with wildlife or endangered species, adding the Crest planted many of the dunes during his first term.
“We built our own dune, now to our detriment. Now, we have to restore the area that we're using for beach patrol equipment. That’s the frustrating part. I don’t want to minimize. I think the DEP is important, but it wasn’t like we maliciously tried to damage something,” said Cabrera.