Thursday, October 03, 2013

SIA Newsletter 10 2 2013 - Town Meeting Last Saturday on New FEMA Maps; Bayberry and Beach Plum Planting 10/12; Webcam; Like Us on Facebook!; Calendar

To All Strathmere and Whale Beach Homeowners and Visitors,

On Saturday, Upper Township Engineer Paul Dietrich came over to discuss several topics, primarily the new FEMA "Preliminary Work Maps".
We had a great crowd of over 50 people.
We'll try to summarize some key points here...
Paul pointed out that typically, the general public would not see the "advisory" maps that came out last December or even these preliminary maps. The advisory maps were published because of rebuilding requirements due to Superstorm Sandy. These preliminary maps would normally be shared only with State, County and Municipal officials, to get comments and input before releasing the preliminary FIRM maps, but because these maps are so different from the advisory maps, FEMA could not expect local officials to keep them "secret" until the next round of maps. As reported in previous newsletters, the new maps moved almost all of Strathmere and Whale Beach out of the "V" zone and into the "A" zone.
The next step will be the release of the Preliminary FIRMs (Flood Information Rate Maps), in a few months. These are the maps that solicit public input and the only ones that can be formally appealed. After considering all input, FEMA will release the actual FIRMs. These FIRMs are what the new flood insurance premiums will be based on, and no chnges in flood insurance rates due to mapping will occur until the next renewal (or new policy) after they take effect. We're guessing that for most people, that would be in 2015, although it could be in late 2014.
Most of Strathmere was previously in the A10 Zone, meaning (for flood insurance purposes) the elevation of your lowest "habitable" floor had to be 10 feet above "sea level" on the 1929 datum. These new maps use the 1988 datum, which, in Strathmere, puts "sea level" 1.28 feet higher than maps using the 1929 datum. This means that if your first floor was 10 feet above sea level on the old maps (or on your elevation certificate), it is now 1.28 feet closer to sea level or at 8.72 feet elevation.
Paul brought large-scale paper copies over for display, and we have taken them to the Schiavo Library where you can look at them. Frankly, if you are able to receive this newsletter, you can see these new maps in even more detail by accessing this link:
After you (center and click on the "+" to) zoom in to Strathmere on the map, click on "Basemap", then "Imagery" to see your house and the flood zone boundaries.
You can see that most of Strathmere is now in either the AE9 or AE10 zones (AE Zones are now used on the new format FIRMs instead of A1-A30 Zones).
If your first floor was at 10 feet in the old (still current) A10 zone, you are now at 8.72 feet with the new maps because of the new datum. Since FEMA rounds to the nearest foot, you would still be "at" Base Flood Elevation (BFE) if you are now in the AE9 zone, but a foot below BFE (and therefore "non-compliant" if you are now in the AE10 zone.
We know this is confusing to many people. Paul is willing to work with all homeowners to help them figure out where they stand, but he cannot do this without an elevation certificate for your house. It's possible he may have one on file for you (Paul's telephone number is 609-628-2011, Extension 244). If not, you should try your (flood) insurance agent to see if they have one on file and can send you a copy. If you cannot obtain your certificate that way, it is worthwhile for you to get a licensed surveyor to provide one for you by surveying the property.
Our February newsletter on this topic is still available here, on the Township website. We strongly recommend you read at least the first few pages to understand the terminology.
Most of Saturday's discussion was about the new maps. Again, as a result of the new law passed in 2012, many flood insurance premiums will be rising over the next few years because of the elimination of most subsidies, even without the new maps. This was covered in the February newsletter.
Paul also discussed the related Township ordinance. While FEMA measures from the first habitable floor if you are in the A (AE) zone, the Township requires, for new construction, rebuilding or raising your house, that the lowest horizontal member of the house be one foot above BFE (above the 9 foot or 10 foot levels on the new maps). This is a more stringent requirement than FEMA requires, but will get you less expensive flood insurance, make your home safer, and help get bigger discounts on flood insurance premiums for Upper Township communities (primarily Strathmere and Whale Beach). Remember, this requirement only applies if you do something requiring a construction permit.
Paul pointed out that as a result of this ordinance and other activities, Upper Township will be going to a Class 6 CRS (Community Rating System) FEMA rating, which will qualify us for a 20% (up from today's 15%) discount on flood insurance premiums. Unfortunately, houses that are "non-compliant" (first floor not at or above BFE) will not be entitled to the discount.
Paul indicated that the State of New Jersey is responsible for reviewing and distributing grants from the Federal relief money for Sandy (previously these decisions were made at the municipality level). Since the deadline for filing has just passed, no grant awards have been announced as yet. Strangely, a requirement of these grants is that you must wait to rebuild or raise your house until after award of the grant. You cannot apply retroactively. Also, only primary residents are eligible for these grants.
It is Paul's personal opinion, and nothing official, that there have not been a large number of applications for these grants and that there may be money remaining that would permit a second round of applications for second-home owners. We'll see...
The grants are not to be confused with the Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) funds which are included as part of your flood insurance premium and for which anyone with flood insurance is eligible if they meet the requirements. Again, this is something you may discuss with Paul...
Paul then went on to discuss the new trash and recycling collection procedures coming in 2014. The Township has purchased new automated trash and recycling trucks and containers. This will permit the collection of each with only the driver. These trucks will be used on the mainland, but not in Strathmere, because of summer congestion. Everyone in the Township, however, including Strathmere and Whale Beach, will get one new trash and one new recycling container. They will actually have embedded chips that will be associated with each address so that if they are found after a storm they can be returned. They are larger than previously used containers, but are ergonomically designed so that they can be easily rolled and tipped. A letter to Township residents describing the new process will be sent in the next week.
Paul next discussed beach replenishment. The State has ageed to use mitigation funds from the Sandy storm to pay for not only the next beach replenishment but also ongoing (all future) beach replenishment projects in Upper. The design and contracting for the next phase, which will also include Sea Isle City and the south end of Ocean City, will take until this time next year, so it appears that our next replenishment will take place in 4Q 2014. Folks at the meeting agreed that our beaches are for the most part in very good shape. The replenishment will only do a portion of the State Park (Point), but the Township will work with the Army Corps to include more.
Paul said that the Township has signed a contract for the last phase of dune fencing and dune grass. It will include the north end that could not be done earlier this year because of nesting birds, and also fencing and grass in Whale Beach. The Township is purchasing 135,000 square feet of dune grass to be planted under the contract.
The Township received a grant to do two blocks of Bayview Drive. They have applied for an additional grant to do two more blocks so that four blocks could be done under one contract. Bayview Drive is very low (2.5 to 3.5 feet in elevation) and the four blocks between Webster and Sherman go under water at full moon or northeast winds. The design will have to take into account not blocking outflow from the Commonwealth side from a rainstorm and also not "pitching" water into garages along Bayview.
There was general discussion about the need to have bulkheads of adequate height to minimize flooding at all properties on Bayview Drive. If Strathmere residents or groups want to weigh in on the issue before Township Committee, it might help to move along the process.
The Township has appropriated funds to reconstruct the boat ramp at the end on Bayview Drive. There is a chance, however, that the Township could get a grant from Cape May County for this work from Recreational Funds that already exist. If so, it would allow the work to be done without using Township taxpayer funds. This project, however, is long overdue and hopefully can get underway soon.
It was pointed out that Cape May County will be issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) this winter for the engineering work to resurface Commonwealth Avenue from the bridge approach to Sea Isle City. This would include correcting drainage problems and painting additional crosswalks. After engineering design and costs are determined, the project would be done in multiple phases as funding becomes available. The outflow pipes to improve drainage would be coordinated with the work to be done on Bayview Drive.
Following the discussion, many people reviewed the FEMA maps. Again, they are available at the library, but may best be viewed online.
The SIA thanks everyone for coming out, but especially Paul Dietrich for giving up a Saturday afternoon and providing so much information!

Please plan to be in town for Columbus Day Weekend.
That Saturday, October 12, is the Strathmere Fishing and Environmental Club's "Environmental Day".
The Club invites Whale Beach & Strathmere residents to join them in planting
Beach Plums & Bayberry bushes at 10 am at Randolph Road and the beach (rain date October 13 at noon).
Please bring a shovel and gloves if you can.

In addition, the SFEC requests all to join them for a special presentation by the
American Littoral Society that afternoon at 4 PM at the Firehouse.
Refreshments will be served following the discussion.

 Ed Tettemer wants everyone to know that the Beach Webcam at the Octagon is back up and running and you can check out the Randolph Road beach here: 
Add it to your "favorites".



Remember to follow and "like" the SIA (click the "Thumbs Up" box ) on Facebook:
You'll get an early look at lots of things going on in Strathmere!


Upcoming Events - please add to your calendars:

SFEC-Sponsored Beachplum and Bayberry Planting, 10 am Saturday, October 12

SFEC Meeting & Environmental Program (open to all), 4:00 pm Saturday, October 12

Let us know of additions or corrections!
And once again, check out Carol Baker's wonderful Strathmere History website at


The Strathmere Improvement Association includes all owners in Strathmere and Whale Beach and many visitors. It was founded in 1951 as a community organization with the simple objective of making Strathmere a better place. We are proud of the organization's many accomplishments over the years.
The SIA kept the 2013 annual dues at $10 per adult family member. The dues and the fund raisers provide for the Fourth of July Parade and our share of the Christmas Party. We conducted a number of Centennial events in 2012, donated money to help pay for extra State Police protection, and donated to residents affected by Sandy.
NOTE: Since most of you never formally "signed up" as members, obviously we cannot "force" you to pay dues,
which are really more like (non-deductible) donations anyway. If you don't pay, we will still keep you on our newsletter distribution. The only penalty will be that you can't vote in our (mostly uncontested) elections!
Nevertheless, we really hope you see value in our projects and enjoy the newsletters enough so that you'll contribute $10 per adult family member.
Dues payments may be sent to SIA at PO Box 57, Strathmere, NJ 08248. Remember to tell us your correct e-mail address!
Also, please let us know if you have comments or suggestions for the newsletter or for SIA in general, or if you'd like us to change your e-mail address in our records.
You can contact us by responding to this e-mail at or by mailing SIA at PO Box 57.



Thanks very much for your continuing support of the Strathmere Improvement Association!
Linda Bateman
Elaine Holsomback
Donna Diefenderfer
Rosemarie Whelan
Ken Weaver

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