LONGPORT – The Board of Commissioners Wednesday April 13 discussed some potential hot button issues but made no decisions on what to do about them.

The commissioners continued their ongoing discussion on the possibility of joining the recently established Atlantic County Central Municipal Court System starting January 2023 and started up new discussions about allowing dogs and electric bicycles on the beach during the summer season.

Borough Administrator A. Scott Porter said he met with Commissioner of Public Safety Dan Lawler and Atlantic County officials for an update on costs associated with joining the new countywide municipal court system.

The borough is currently under contract with its neighbor Margate, where municipal court has been held since February 2020 following a mold remediation project undertaken after the HVAC system failed in August 2019.

The borough subsequently entered a full-fledged interlocal service agreement with Margate on May 1, 2021 to have its municipal court at Margate’s Historic City Hall at 1 S. Washington Ave., just a few blocks over the Longport-Margate border.

The 5-year agreement provided a cost savings to the borough, which pays Margate $10,000 per month, in addition to covering the $33,163 annual cost of the prosecutor, public defender and judge.

Joining the county court could save taxpayers even more, commissioners learned.

Porter said the information provided at the meeting is similar to what was discussed when county Counsel Jim Ferguson attended a commission meeting Sept. 22, 2021.

At that time, Ferguson said that Longport could save as much as $210,000 on the cost of running its courts if it joined the countywide system. The borough hears about 1,024 cases per year and has one of the highest costs per case in the county, he said.

The current cost for Longport to join the countywide system would be $42,000 a year, Porter said. The municipal court would be held remotely for most cases, or at the recently refurbished courtrooms at the Atlantic County Historic Courthouse on Main Street in Mays Landing. The county will hold a dedication ceremony and guided tours of three refurbished courtrooms 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 4.

“Costs may go up with changes in the (county’s) 2022 budget cycle, but we are only responsible for 1.8% of the projected costs, so it won’t go up tremendously,” he said.

Porter said the county provided a sample 10-year contract, which was sent to solicitor Michael Affanato for review.

The commitment to the county system would be for a minimum of two years, Affanato said, but after that period, the borough could withdraw with six-month’s notice, although the municipality would be required to pay its annual assessment.

“It’s a similar notice that we have with Margate,” Affanato said. “I had no problems with the contract.”

Longport has until June to notify Margate if it will leave the interlocal agreement at the end of the year in favor of joining the county system starting in January 2023.

“The county will have a proposal to the governing body by the middle of May,” in time for the commission to make a decision by the mid-year deadline, Porter said.

Affanato also said he met with Police Chief Frank Culmone regarding a resident’s inquiry about riding electric bicycles on the beach.

“Our code does not permit any vehicles on the beach,” Affanato told commissioners. “That is something you may want to revisit and decide if you want to keep the prohibition at this time or any time of the year.”

During public comments, resident Levon “Lefty” Clayton, who walks his dog on the beach every morning in the off-season, asked the commissioners to consider providing limited access in the morning hours, 6-8 a.m., to allow tethered dogs on the beach.

“Mostly everyone is very considerate picking up after their dogs and preventing them from tearing up the dunes…but every once in awhile you find someone who doesn’t pick up,” he said. “Let responsible dog owners, as most of the dog owners in Longport are, allow dogs on the beach limited hours in the summer, or if you have to maybe do a permit system.”

Mayor Nicholas Russo said there was a time when dogs were banned from the beach when lifeguards are on duty, but the borough changed that provision to adhere to regulations at New Jersey state beaches.

“They weren’t concerned about feces or cleanup, they were concerned about wildlife and nesting birds,” Russo said. “If they don’t have an issue with it, I don’t have an issue with it.”

Commissioner Jim Leeds, who lives on the beach block, said he has seen people drive up to the bulkhead and let their dogs run loose on the beach.

Porter was tasked with contacting the NJ DEP regarding regulations since the dune was erected.


Copyright Mediawize, LLC 2022

Advertise with us


Categories: Longport

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.