Residents of Seaview Harbor, an isolated, wealthy seaside enclave of Egg Harbor Township and home to its mayor, filed a petition Tuesday afternoon to relocate to Longport.
The petition seeks a boundary realignment, Seaview Harbor Community Association President Ed McGlinchey said, and will likely lead to hearings in front of the township’s Planning Board.
McGlinchey said organizers began collecting signatures last summer. “This whole thing has been talked about for probably 25 years, so there’s nothing new,” he said. “It’s just that we finally got organized and finally got enough people interested in this.”
The group hoped to follow the model of a cul-de-sac formerly located in Toms River, which was permitted to join Lavallette in 2009 after proving Toms River provided inadequate services.
But that was uncommon, because most secession movements in New Jersey fail.
Over the past 25 years, the Diamond Beach section of Lower Township was kept from joining Wildwood Crest in the early 1990s; the 150-home Avalon Manor section of Middle Township was not permitted to join Avalon in 2004; and Upper Township’s Strathmere section was prevented from joining Sea Isle City in 2010.
Seaview Harbor’s petition needed more than 60 percent of the registered voters’ signatures. Fellow organizer John Dabek said they turned in 69 signatures. Not counting people known to have moved or were inactive voters, Dabek said, that amounted to about 80 percent of registered voters.
The group, formally called the Seaview Harbor Realignment Committee of the Seaview Harbor Community Club Inc., said in a statement the 92-home subdivision accounts for just 0.0014 percent of Egg Harbor Township’s land.
“The Seaview Harbor community started as a development in the early 1960s and is now established as coastal community with all the characteristics similar to that of Longport and not Egg Harbor Township,” the group said in a statement. “The movement of Seaview Harbor to Longport would have historical and legal precedence as part of this pattern of bringing local government closer to the people it serves.”
The community relies on Longport emergency services because it is about 10 miles away from township municipal facilities. The township also only provides once-a-week trash service in the summer, it claimed, versus Longport’s twice-weekly pickups. And because residents have Longport mailing addresses, some face problems with directions.
Unmentioned in the statement are the tremendous tax savings that Seaview Harbor residents would expect to receive if permitted to join Longport.
Following 2012’s reassessment in Egg Harbor Township, properties in the Seaview Harbor jumped to an average $850,769 assessment in 2013, and property taxes rose on average from $13,106 in 2012 to $24,191 in 2013. Tax records suggest about a third of the properties are second homes.
However, if these homes had been taxed at Longport’s 2013 rates, property owners would have paid on average just $7,631.
Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough said he already planned to leave the neighborhood, after watching his property taxes jump almost 60 percent to $31,056 in 2013. His home on Seaview Drive has been for sale since September, listed at $1.4 million.
He warned that residents will have a difficulty proving the township neglected them. Other township officials from Seaview Harbor included former members of the planning and zoning boards.
“My big concern is that I would hate to see my neighbors spending all that money (on an attorney) and not getting the results that they are hoping for,” McCullough said, adding later, “We pick up their trash, we plow their snow, we provide the sewer system. The only difference is when there’s a 911 call, Longport comes.”
Contact Derek Harper:
@dnharper on Twitter