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Jewell Real Estate Agency Newsletter - Spring 2014

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We just experienced an unforgettable winter that we'd love to forget.  Here in Cape May County we received 43 inches of snow, a total that is more than double our average and well above our recent winters of about seven inches of the white stuff.  The final blow was 10" of snow on St. Patrick's Day.

On top of that, the temperatures were well below average.  January alone was eight degrees below normal and February wasn’t much better.  The winter offered more single degree lows than we can remember since the '90s.

The crop that reportedly suffered the most is grapes, which will affect the wine harvest later in the year.  Most other crops were unbothered.  What could be their undoing is if we get warm weather and the plants begin to bud, then a severe cold snap comes along to injure the new buds.  We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Now we'll stay positive and focus on spring.  The spring peepers are singing, the yard work is getting done, and bicycles, baseball gear, and golf clubs are getting dusted off in preparation for the warmer weather.  C'mon 70 degree days!


The Army Corps of Engineers has released its recommendations for a 25,000 foot long dune enhancement project that would stretch from Hereford's Inlet at the north end of North Wildwood to the Cape May Inlet in Diamond Beach.

The plan, which was heartily accepted by North Wildwood but got the thumbs down from Wildwood and Wildwood Crest, would involve building a dune at an elevation of 16 feet.  To put that in perspective, that's about a foot and a half higher than the Wildwood Boardwalk.

The dune would be 75 feet wide at its base and just 25 feet wide at the top. A 28,000 foot long sand fence would parallel the dune.  The fence would have openings for pedestrian crossovers (44 existing, 7 new), handicap crossovers (7 existing, 6 new), and vehicle crossovers (8 existing, 5 new).

The project would see 64 acres of dune grass plantings to stabilize the sand.  Where dunes already exist, the new dune would tie into the centerline of that dune and build it up to the 16 foot mark if necessary.  Dunes would stay at least 30 feet away from any existing structure, such as the Wildwood Convention Center.

The sand would be obtained in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest where the beach is as wide as one-third of a mile due to years of sand washing in from the north and collecting in these areas.  A total of 1.362 million cubic yards will be used, with nourishment projects refilling with another 305,000 yards every four years.

Some folks are up in arms over the dunes and their personal loss of an ocean view.  Detractors also point to the fact that the dunes do not address flooding from the backbay side of the island, which can be more severe.

With Sandy not too far in the rearview mirror, the project has gained some supporters who don't want to see their property destroyed by a storm surge.  Scientist project an increase in ocean levels by the end of the century to rise 10" to 40", foreshadowing worse flooding in the future if nothing is done.

The sand used will be taken from the areas closest to the water's edge.  That should unclog the outfall pipes, which plug during storms and hinder drainage.  The project will also eliminate the "ponding effect" in low spots on the larger beaches.  Lastly, the added sand will help protect North Wildwood's vulnerable beaches from erosion.

We expect the dune issue to stay in the headlines for most of this year.  Stay tuned for more developments.


Flood-zone homeowners got some relief in March when the Senate and Congress passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act.  The bill repeals the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ability to increase flood premium insurance rates at the time of a sale or based on a new flood map.  All increases are capped at 18% on newer properties and 25% on some older ones.

With local homeowners sweating over reports of flood insurance doubling or even tripling based on the newest FEMA flood zone designations, this new law should put those rumors to rest.


The Middle Township Planning Board is considering granting five variances to allow the Walmart in Rio Grande to expand into a so-called Supercenter.  The project is looking to add 43,000 square feet to the existing Walmart, putting a full-fledged grocery store into existing space in the mall to the north.

Variances needed included one because the store is short 120 parking spots, it has an undersized loading dock area, the front setback is non-conforming, and they want oversized signage.  The shopping center had 13 variances granted before original construction began nearly a decade ago.

It’s no surprise that the biggest objector is the local ShopRite, located just a mile away.  Their attorney has been at the Planning Board meetings challenging the variances.

Adding a grocery department to the Walmart doesn’t seem like a bad fit.  Since the nearby Stop & Shop went belly up a few years ago, there is a void in Rio Grande.  And even at Christmastime, we have never seen the parking lot full.


Despite the snowy winter, work on the removal of the three traffic lights on the Garden State Parkway in Middle Township is still on schedule.  They are currently building the southbound overpasses and will shift to the northbound side this autumn.  The project will be completed a year later.


We love to talk about real estate and our island.  We're always glad to share our insights, observations, and visions with you.

Stop by our office at 5602 New Jersey Avenue and chat.  Or give Joyce or Douglas a call at 609-729-8505.  We answer phones 6am to 9pm EVERYDAY and you always get a real, live person.  That’s service!


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