Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne Walters and Cape May County Freeholder Leonard Desiderio today announced that they expect to see the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approve the CAFRA permit that will allow the construction of the new Stone Harbor library at the selected beach front site.

The project has been delayed over two years while the county and borough have been appealing the DEP’s denial of the permit application to construct the county branch library.

The denial was based on regulations covering the set-back for the building as well as the loss of parking spaces. Under the Scenic Resources and Design rule, the building would have to be set-back from the bulkhead two times the height of the building. “Both the borough and the county contended that this rule was inconsistent with the intent of the regulation since the library would enhance both the physical and visual public access to the shorefront. In effect, the building on a municipal parking lot would create a scenic view for the public that doesn’t currently exist,” Walters said.

Even though the project would result in the loss of some parking, the borough and county argued that the public amenities of the ADA compliant facility substantially outweighed the loss of the 16 parking spaces. Walters said, “Not only would the two-story library with decks on each floor offer an unobstructed view of the oceanfront, it would also contain outside restrooms for beachgoers and the general public”.

Desiderio, who is liaison to the Library Commission, expressed his encouragement that the project will finally move forward. “We recently received a commitment from the DEP agreeing to rulemaking changes that will amend the Public Open Space as well as the Scenic Resources and Design rules to permit the construction of the library on the beach site,” Desiderio said.

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