A public meeting with representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over a proposed dune and beach project is scheduled for Thursday.
The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m., Commissioner Brenda Taube said, following the 5 p.m. Board of Commissioners meeting. A decision may be made during the commission meeting about placing a referendum on the ballot.
A second public meeting, which had been tentatively scheduled for Saturday, has been canceled.
A city ordinance from 2001 requires a citywide referendum before approval of any dune project, so Margate's participation in an upcoming beach-replenishment project is subject to the voters' approval. Longport, which rescinded a similar ordinance in April, has already signed on to the project.
Commissioners have until the following day, Aug. 16, to place a binding referendum on the November ballot, city Solicitor Scott Abbott said, but the deadline is Aug. 30 for a nonbinding referendum, which has also been discussed as a possibility.
"We talked about a nonbinding referendum to get a feel from registered voters about the building of dunes," Commissioner Maury Blumberg said. "But we don't want to solicit polls until we have some specific information. ... If we're going to ask the people of Margate to enter a longterm contract, they need to know the specifics of what the contract will look like."
Among those specifics are what the city's responsibility for longterm maintenance would be - the federal government is fully financing the initial work - along with pooling and addressing overflow, Blumberg said.
Taube, who favors the dune project, said that while she would prefer a binding referendum, she would not object to a nonbinding one.
"When the public votes, that's their voice, and if we ask them to vote we should heed their desire to build dunes or not to build dunes."
Blumberg said that a group has been formed to present a "counter position" to the dune project, called Margate Citizens for Beach Protection and made up of residents "more or less in the initial protest (in 2001 to 2003) against the building of dunes."
Taube said that she hopes those opposed to the dune project "listen respectfully" to what the DEP and Army Corps have to say about the project.
"They're offering $10 million for the shore protection project," Taube said. "If people don't want dunes, fine. ... But please be respectful."
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Dune project meeting
What: Informational meeting
When: 6:30 p.m., Thursday
Where: City Hall, 9001 Winchester Ave., Margate