The state Supreme Court will not hear an appeal from an Upper Township citizens group that sought the secession of Strathmere, ending a legal fight that began in 2008.
“It’s over,” Mayor Richard Palombo said Monday afternoon.
The Citizens for Strathmere and Whale Beach wanted to de-annex their island community from Upper Township and join with Sea Isle City’s government, with which it shares Ludlam Island.
After the Township Committee, Atlantic County Superior Court and the Superior Court’s Appellate Division all denied the group’s petitions, the request for a hearing before the New Jersey Supreme Court was the last step.
Palombo said the township received a letter announcing the decision on Monday. It was not unexpected since the Supreme Court denies about 90 percent of the petitions it receives.
“Of course, we’re deeply disappointed,” said Ed Tettemer, corresponding secretary for the citizens group.
Some homeowners in Strathmere thought they would receive better services if managed by Sea Isle, but Upper Township stood to lose a significant chunk of its tax base if it lost its unincorporated oceanfront village. The courts agreed the government had enough at stake to deny such a request.
“We’re extremely pleased that Strathmere will continue to be a part of Upper Township,” Palombo said.
Both sides vowed to now start working together more, saying they already had renewed faith in their ability to cooperate since Hurricane Sandy passed.
“It would seem that we would take our energies now and put them into engaging with the folks of Upper Township,” Tettemer said.
Tettemer was unaware of the decision before being contacted by a reporter from The Press of Atlantic City late Monday afternoon. Upon hearing the news, he said his group did not regret the work it has done, saying they still successfully pushed for beach replenishment projects and generally brought neighbors together.
As the township still works with locals to clean up the community following Sandy, he said he already felt as if “that slate has been wiped clean.”
Palombo said he wanted to thank the attorneys who represented the township in the years-long case.
“We’re obviously pleased to put an end to this,” he said.
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