Using a tarp can prevent microplastic and other types of pollution.


MARGATE – Local environmentalists were hoping for the Board of Commissioners to introduce and ordinance but settled Thursday, March 7 for a resolution authorizing the city to promote public awareness about contractors maintaining “clean and safe” worksites within the city.

With the proliferation of building upgraded housing to accommodate new flood regulations, much of the exterior materials used to build homes at the shore are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and contain plastic and other polluting contaminants.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Resolution 74-2024 requiring building contractors to protect the fragile marine environment by adopting procedures that prevent microplastic particles from entering the stormwater system and soil, and dust from polluting the air.

The resolution instructs contractors to use a vacuum attachment on all saws when cutting, sanding or drilling AZEK, TREX and other poly-compound materials or wood. Contractors shall cut, grind, sand and drill in an enclosed area, place a tarp under power tools to catch debris, and clean up worksites daily to prevent the spread of contaminants to the air, stormwater system and neighboring properties.

Sustainable Margate green team member Sherri Lilienfeld, who advocated for an ordinance, thanked the commissioners for taking the issue seriously.

“I’m very excited to see this,” she said, asking the board to explain the difference between an ordinance and a resolution.

According to Solicitor John Scott Abbott, an ordinance is law, and the resolution is a directive to city employees to educate builders about the dangers of plastic pollution. The resolution sites a fine not to exceed $1,000 or 90 days in jail for violations under the city ordinance regulating municipal waste disposal or other sections of the building code. Contractors are required to inform their employees and subcontractors about the regulations.

“The key here is to pass a resolution because of the importance of the issue and the environment,” Mayor Michael Collins said.

Collins said the effort to pass an ordinance is “evolving” and the city is soliciting feedback from multiple sources before it attempts to pass an ordinance. Clean Ocean Action recently recommended edits to the proposed ordinance, which “validates our continued point that this is evolving,” he said. “This is a first step in that direction.”

The resolution further states a “framework to amend current ordinances or create a new ordinance needs further investigation.”

The Building Department is already informing contractors of the new requirements when they apply for building permits, Collins said.

“I wanted to commend you because I have absolutely noticed an improvement at a lot of sites,” Lilienfeld said. “What they are doing is working.”

Sustainable Margate Chairman Steve Jasecki said he has reviewed suggested changes made by the folks at Clean Ocean Action and agrees that more needs to be done to develop a comprehensive ordinance addressing the issue that can be replicated in other communities.

“I can see why the commissioners want to review the suggested changes,” Jasiecki said. “I think they are good edits and worth the added time to make the ordinance clearer, stronger and enforceable.”

Jasiecki said he would like to see an ordinance address more than polycarbonate materials, such as sawdust from lumber treated with chemicals, fiberglass, and other materials that can become airborne and contaminate water and soil.

“The ordinance is about building awareness in a world which is being inundated with products that appear to be harmless but can cause serious harm for our future generations,” he said.


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Categories: Margate

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

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