Back in 1917, the New Jersey Legislature saw the wisdom with adopting the Home Rule Act, which allowed local governments the ability to control their own future by allowing them broad powers for enacting laws and regulations that protected and promoted local interest. The Home Rule Act still stands today as the bedrock for local autonomy in New Jersey. However, Senate Bill #S3926 and Assembly Bill # A5894 (these bills) threaten the very essence of the Home Rule and places the future of our local coastal communities into the hands of a foreign entity, namely the Danish firm called Orsted.
As written, these bills take away the ability of local government to render decisions that they feel reflect the best interest of the community and replaces it with a process that favors foreign investment. It eliminates good faith negotiations as the basis for local officials to effectively negotiate with Orsted. Instead, Orsted can refuse any reasonable resolution and simply bring their case to the state Board of Public Utilities. These bills clearly position Orsted in an advantageous negotiating position at the expense of the municipalities.
The majority of Council of Ocean City strongly opposes these bills, because they severely erode the ability of local government to make choices that represent what is best for their community and does not allow for good faith negotiations to take place with Orsted.
In addition, these bills will force local officials to make decisions prior to disclosure of all the facts. The federally mandated environmental impact statements or studies for the pending offshore wind project will not be completed until the first quarter of 2023, yet these bills force local governments to make decisions concerning the project well before the public release of these important documents. This is unfair, lacks transparency and flies in the face of good public policy.
While the City Council of the City of Ocean City understands the desire of the state to develop alternative sources of energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, rushing to accomplish this goal without due process, full disclosure of facts, ample public debate of the environmental impacts and circumventing of the Home Rule Act does not reflect a truly democratic process. All that these bills accomplish is to short circuit the ability of local officials, who know their community the best, the ability to have meaningful input on issues that will significantly affect their communities for minimally the next 25 years.
Coastal communities, like Ocean City, have tourism-based economies that make major contributions to state coffers. However, keeping Ocean City prosperous requires protecting the natural beauty of the coast and these bills do nothing to advance that important cause and in fact, ignores the value of the costal environment.
Attempting to micromanage Ocean City from Trenton in favor of foreign entities will not be tolerated. The majority of City Council strongly opposes these bills and will utilize all methods at its disposal to soundly defeat the pending legislation as we feel that our fundamental principal of self-determination is at stake.
Ocean City Council President Bob Barr and Vice President Michael DeVlieger are asking you to make your voices heard. Join us in standing up for our local community. Tell your legislators in Trenton to protect our wildlife, environment, and our right to Home Rule.
Do not let Big Government tell us what is right for our community’s health, safety, and well-being!
Please support our regional representatives that support us. Contact them and tell them how you feel.
President, City Council of the City of Ocean City
Vice President, City Council of the City of Ocean City
State of New Jersey – First District Legislators
Senator Michael Testa – Phone: 609-778-2012
Assemblyman Antwan McClellan – Phone: 609-778-2012
Assemblyman Erik Simonsen – Phone: 609-778-2012
Cape May County Board of County Commissioners
Director Jerry Thornton – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice Director Leonard Desiderio – Email: email@example.com
Commissioner E. Marie Hayes – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Will Morey – Email: email@example.com
Commissioner Jeffrey Pierson – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Ocean City, New Jersey – City Council
President Robert Barr: Rbarr@ocnj.us / 609-703-0750
Vice President Michael DeVlieger: Mdevlieger@ocnj.us / 609-231-8987