Brigantine Beach

BRIGANTINE — City Council on Dec. 6 unanimously approved a resolution supporting a bill the late state Sen. Jim Whelan introduced to create an economic growth zone in and around the William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center and Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township.

As part of the state's Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, Atlantic City was deemed one of five Garden State Growth Zones earmarked for government assistance due to a severe economic downturn. The growth-zone designation provides tax breaks and other incentives for companies and developers to relocate within those municipalities, which also include Camden, Trenton, Passaic and Paterson. Currently, Camden is the only municipality receiving state aid to spur its growth zone.

“What we're trying to do right now is diversify our economy,” said Councilman Vince Sera. “For the longest time, our area relied largely on casinos, until casinos started to spread to every other state. So in order for Atlantic County to be successful, we need to make the area attractive for other businesses."

The resolution indicates the Atlantic City region saw its workforce decline from roughly 142,000 in 2010 to 123,000 in 2016, and saw its ratable base drop from $20.3 billion in 2009 to $6.5 billion in 2016. The area also has endured the highest property-foreclosure rate in the nation, though data show that is no longer the case as of this year.

It is noted in the resolution that construction of the Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park is underway, which will foster training, technology and aviation-related job growth. However, the resolution asserts that further economic-development incentives are needed to attract other forms of business to the area, and that there is plenty of space available for development in and around the airport.

“There is an economic alliance that's working countywide to implement an economic growth plan,” Mayor Phil Guenther said during the meeting, “and of course the Stockton Aviation Research Park is underway and there are a lot of good things going on in our area. This is just one more tool that will help us move forward and drive our economy, which is very important.”

In other business

City Manager Ed Stinson said the Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Mitigation Assistance program came through with $3 million to help property owners in Brigantine, Margate and Longport elevate their homes. The three municipalities entered into a partnership to apply for federal assistance.

Property owners whose homes are below base flood elevation and repeatedly sustain flood damage are on a list to receive up to 75 percent of the cost of raising their homes. Thus far, 22 homes have been approved for the list, and of those, 12 are in Brigantine. There is also an alternate list of 12 homes that would replace any of the 22 whose owners opted not to have the work done, he said.

Stinson also said a beach replenishment project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon take place on the north-end beaches. The replenishment is part of the flood control and storm-damage agreement the Army Corps has with the city, which is a special addendum to Brigantine's regularly scheduled replenishments every six years. The special fill will replace about 750,000 cubic yards of sand washed away by Winter Storm Jonas in 2016.

The replenishment will span the beaches north of Roosevelt Boulevard to roughly 100 yards north of the sea wall. Work is scheduled to start some time between Christmas and New Year's Day and be finished by the end of January, Stinson said.

Council's next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20.

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