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Threat to CRS Scores
Ten years ago, following Superstorm Sandy, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded points to communities that adopted Advisory Base Flood Elevation Maps. Those extra points are set to expire this year. The impact on some communities and their rating levels could be significant.
Stone Harbor Borough Council was told that the current level 5 rating that earns homeowners a 25% discount on flood insurance premiums could drop as low as a 7, or even 8, rating level, moving the discount to 15%, or even 10%. The borough is taking actions now to earn points through other activities in the hope that it can offset some of the decline. The impact on other Cape May County towns is not yet clear.
The Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary program that allows communities to earn discount points through floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program. Maintaining or increasing a community’s discount has never been more important since FEMA recently instituted a new insurance premium rating system that increases the flood insurance cost for many homes in areas like those on Cape May County’s barrier islands.
Effective April 1, 2022,11 communities in Cape May County were listed by FEMA as participating in the CRS program. The highest level 3 scores, earning a 35% discount, were Avalon and Sea Isle City. Ocean City has a level 4 rating for a 30% discount. Level 5 communities earn a 25% discount and include Cape May, Stone Harbor, Upper Township and Wildwood. Next, at level 6 with a 20% discount, are Cape May Point, Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood. There is one level 7 community, Lower Township, bringing a 15% discount.
Those communities not listed as currently participating in the program are Dennis Township, Middle Township, West Cape May, and Woodbine. West Wildwood was part of the program in the past but is listed as not active now.
Uncertain Economic Times
Stockton University’s Dr. Oliver Cooke presented a look at the local economy in 2022 and its prospects in 2023 when he addressed the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce this week. Cooke said uncertainties characterized the national economy where he found conflicting evidence as to its direction. He also said that the regional economy should track the national economic performance closely.
Many economists are predicting slowing growth and even a recession for the national economy in the early part of 2023. The Conference Board cites the dual headwinds of high inflation and rising interest rates. Their projection is that the Federal Reserve’s actions to cool inflation will tip the economy into a “broad-based recession.”
What does this all mean for Cape May County? Cooke says the housing market is cooling considerably. He notes that second home sales have been a key part of the county’s pandemic recovery. A slower real estate market is one of the uncertainties he points to as having a potential impact on 2023.
Hospitality is at the core of the local economy and predictions here are mixed. Hub International predicts continued labor shortages, higher costs for supplies and changing consumer demands. The key in their report is the same as for Cooke - economic uncertainty.
Ocean City is taking new steps to combat the pandemic of rowdy juvenile behavior that has plagued shore towns for the last two years. Across 13 areas of its municipal code, the city has established certain behaviors as constituting a “breach of the peace.” According to the city solicitor, the new ordinance will give police the right to detain juveniles engaged in these activities until parents can be notified.
The offenses that have been designated as breaches of the peace include possession and consumption of alcohol, violations of bicycle regulations, curfew violations, littering, excessive noise, smoking and graffiti to name some of the comprehensive list of unwanted behaviors.
Property owners in the north end of Stone Harbor are calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to extend the beach fill north of 90th Street.
The $1.7 trillion federal omnibus bill contained a number of earmark funding provisions for Cape May County communities. Included was $600,000 to aid Cape May’s replacement of its desalination plant and funding for Lower Township’s Municipal Utilities Authority water main project.
Vehicle access to Stone Harbor Point was an issue for parts of 2022 following the Mother’s Day nor’easter. One result was a rise in the number of boat landings and other disturbances to the bird nesting areas.
Coyote sightings have some Lower Township residents concerned. Although attacks on humans and even pets are rare, municipalities have provided tips for dealing with coyotes.
Covid Act Now has updated the risk level assessment for New Jersey, moving it from high to moderate. The risk level for much of the southern portion of the state, including Cape May County, remains high.
The couple found passed out in a car in a Wildwood Wawa parking lot had new added drug charges brought this week.
The interim county superintendent of education, a state employee, selected Joseph Clark as vice president of the Ocean City School Board. The move was necessary because the 12-member board had deadlocked 6-to-6 on votes to select a vice president.
The Honorary Consulof Ukraine to Philadelphia spoke to county residents in Woodbine. Speaking about peace negotiations, Iryna Mazur was not confident an agreement could be reached with the Russians. The ground war in Europe adds to the uncertainty surrounding the global economy.
A Pennsylvania woman, Verity Beck, 49, of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, accused of murdering and dismembering her parents, has ties to Sea Isle City. The woman’s parents owned a second home in the city and Beck may have been a beach tag inspector for the city in the past.
Jerry Blavat, “The Geator with the Heater,” passed away this week. Blavat was a constant at the Jersey Shore for decades.
Spout Off of the Week
North Cape May - Calling ALL of my North Cape May Neighbors. Now that the Birds crushed the Giants, Let's get together and light up our beautiful town GREEN. Show your support with some green lights or just a flag or banner. Don't matter who we play next Sunday but let's hope it is those stinkin' Cowboys! Go E A G L E S!
ED. NOTE: Eagles won, Cowboys lost! It will be 49ers at Eagles Sunday at 3 p.m. for the NFC Championship Game. Go Birds!