The 24 acres of wetlands in the Holgate section of Long Beach Township was once covered with water and plants. That all changed however after Hurricane Sandy. The storm brought with it sand from the ocean that now covers the bay front land.
Still, despite the fact that the wetlands are no longer “green,” it’s still environmentally protected and designated as unbuildable under the New Jersey Wetlands Protection Act. Which is why a recent online ad suggesting that it could be sold has sparked outraged.
“I just think it’s unconscionable that they would think about developing this now after what happened with Sandy,” said Long Beach Township resident Doug Shearer.
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The owners of the land want to sell the property, which is listed at $2.2 million dollars. According to the ad, with a substantial portion of the wetlands now filled with sand, there is a potential for several single family building lots as long as state environmental permits are approved.
“The property owners have had an informal discussion with two former NJDEP officials who indicated that development of their naturally accreted property would be allowed,” reads the ad.
Alliance for a Living Ocean, a local environmental group, immediately opposed the proposal.
“We’re doing our best to get out in front of the issue right now,” said Chris Huch, a member of the Alliance. “If you were to build houses on this stretch of land, you’d be taking a significant amount of acreage that’s really quite valuable, environmentally speaking.”
A Department of Environmental Protection spokesman says that despite the changed landscape, the property is still considered coastal wetlands and development of such areas is very limited.
Shearer says the issue goes beyond policy and involves the very essence of the community.
“To just grab up any little bit of land that’s left and throw more houses on it just stabs at the heart of the community and what this end of this island was about,” he said.
The real estate agent involved told NBC10’s Ted Greenberg that the owners of the land had no comment. She also says multiple offers for the land have come in but she wouldn’t say whether or not they had been accepted.