Margate hires former Rep. Rob Andrews for dunes issue

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MARGATE – The Board of Commissioners Aug. 21 hired a former congressman as outside counsel and a coastal engineer to develop strategies to stop the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from building dunes on Margate’s beach.

The board awarded a professional services contract without competitive bidding to former U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews to advocate the city’s position at all levels of government and find a resolution to Margate’s position on the dunes project.

Margate voters agreed in a November 2013 referendum that they do not want dunes built on their beach.

Andrews, of the Philadelphia law firm Dilworth Paxton, LLP’s Government Affairs Practice Group, will be on retainer until the end of 2014 with a contract amount not to exceed $20,000.

The commission also awarded a professional services contract for up to $3,000 to Charles Rooney of T&M Associates of Toms River to provide coastal engineering services that develop alternatives to the Army Corps’ current plan.

Andrews and Rooney were interviewed in a 90-minute closed session meeting that occurred before the commission’s 4 p.m. work session on Thursday, Aug. 21. The board took action to hire both at the regular meeting at 5 p.m. The vote was unanimous.

Andrews’ contract does not include the cost of litigation against the state and federal government. Instead, Andrews will negotiate with state and federal officials to find an alternative to building dunes that Margate officials find acceptable.

According to Mayor Michael Becker, if the beach project starts before the planned November referendum, which will ask voters to approve up to $200,000 to fight it, Andrews will be ready to file for injunctive relief. However, a separate professional services contract would need to be approved by the commission.

Representatives of the state Department of Environmental Protection said the dune project, which is scheduled to begin in Atlantic City and end in Longport, is slated to begin in the fall and end in 2016. Margate officials and beachfront property owners have yet to receive letters requesting easements across their land to do the project, Becker said.

“We are not going for a lawsuit; we are going for alternatives,” Becker told summer residents at a special town hall meeting Aug. 23.

 Becker said the commission agreed to hire Andrews to negotiate with all levels of government to find an alternative to building dunes, which could include raising bulkheads along the beach and building bulkheads bayside.

“We’re in this together and unanimously agreed to move forward together,” Becker said.

Andrews, a Democrat who served New Jersey's 1st District since 1990, resigned from office in February of this year.



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