By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Throngs of beachgoers have been heading to the shore this week to escape the blazing temperatures during summer’s longest heat wave.
But in a few short months, the white stuff that people may be dealing with at the shore could be snow, not beach sand.
Looking ahead to winter, Sea Isle City officials are expected to vote on an ordinance required by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that will establish regulations for the safe, outdoor storage of de-icing materials on private property.
City Council has scheduled a public hearing and final vote on the ordinance at its meeting 10 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
Under the ordinance, private property owners would be permitted to store de-icing products, such as rock salt, outside in a secure structure from Oct. 15 to April 15 each year. After April 15, the de-icing material would have to be removed and may not be stored outside again until the following Oct. 15.
While some might question the timing of Council’s vote on the ordinance in late summer, City Solicitor Paul Baldini explained that it coincides with the renewal of a stormwater management permit that Sea Isle has with the NJDEP.
The state is requiring municipalities that have the stormwater management permit to adopt a “model ordinance” that includes regulations for the safe, outdoor storage of salt and other de-icing materials to protect the environment.
Baldini said the DEP wants to prevent de-icing materials from seeping into the stormwater system and polluting the ocean or back bays.
It is widely known that the salt-laden runoff from de-icing products – which are used to melt snow on roads, sidewalks and driveways – can cause environmental damage and harm wildlife.
Sea Isle’s ordinance would require private property owners who want to store de-icing products outside to comply with a series of construction requirements. Primarily, the storage areas would have to be strong enough to withstand winter’s harsh weather and would have to be protected from stormwater.
“Loose (de-icing) materials shall be placed at least 50 feet from surface water bodies, storm drain outlets, ditches and/or other stormwater conveyance channels,” the ordinance says.
Anyone who is found violating the ordinance would have 72 hours to correct the problems. If they fail to do so, they may be penalized with fines.
Baldini said the goal of the NJDEP’s regulations included in the ordinance to protect the ocean and back bays from pollution is “laudable.”
But he doubts that any private property owners in Sea Isle will actually have the type of outdoor storage facilities for de-icing products described in the ordinance.
“This probably is unnecessary and probably will never be used in Sea Isle,” he said in an interview Friday.