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Strathmere citizens seeking to secede from Upper Township have filed a petition requesting a hearing before the state Supreme Court.

The state Superior Court’s Appellate Division unanimously rejected the appeal by Citizens for Strathmere and Whale Beach on Aug. 1, which followed now-retired Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong’s decision in favor of the township.

Filing a petition for certification with the Supreme Court is the last step for the group, but the court does not have to hear the case.

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If the court declines to hear the case or issue any decision, that will conclude a legal fight that began in 2008 when the township denied the group’s original request.

“We look forward to taking our cause to the New Jersey Supreme Court, where we hope to see the disappointing rejection of our de-annexation petition by the Upper Township Committee overturned,” said Ed Tettemer, the corresponding secretary for the group, following the Appellate Division’s decision.

Strathmere takes up a less-than-two-mile northern section of Ludlam Island, which it shares with Sea Isle City. Citizens for Strathmere and Whale Beach have accused the township of neglecting them for decades.

Residents in Strathmere would pay less in taxes if they joined with Sea Isle City, but the rest of Upper Township would see taxes dramatically increase if the township lost nearly $400 million in taxable property.

Upper Township Solicitor Daniel Young said township officials discussed the case at their regular meeting Monday night and that it is unlikely the Supreme Court will hear the case.

To be considered, a case has to satisfy a number of criteria, such as presenting a question of general public importance, conflicting with a prior Supreme Court decision or being similar to another case on appeal before the court.

The court denies about 90 percent of petitions for certification.

Louis Cappelli Jr., the attorney representing the citizens group, has not returned calls made requesting comment on the case.

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