Residents of the sleepy beachfront community of Strathmere, Upper Township told a Superior Court judge today that they want out of Upper Township.
Citizens for Strathmere and Whale Beach, led by their attorney, former Gov. Jim Florio, are trying to secede and join Sea Isle City, arguing their current mainland government has ignored their public safety and beach concerns.
Upper Township, a sprawling 64-square-mile municipality, wants its sandy barrier island to stay put.
The township would lose nearly 18 percent of its tax base - and almost $4 million per year in school taxes - Strathmere seceded, lawyers for the township said. Many of its residents are affluent and elderly, they said.
After more than three years - including a 13-month Planning Board hearing - the issue is now before Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong, who heard oral arguments Monday in Atlantic City and is expected to issue an opinion in the next 60 days.
In 2009, Upper Township's Planning Board unanimously rejected Strathmere's petition to split in a non-binding resolution issued to the Upper Township Committee, which denied Strathmere's request last year.
After their loss at the municipal level, Citizens for Strathmere and Whale Beach hired the law firm of Florio, the state's governor from 1990 to 1994.