The Wrap: Unruly Crowd Laws, Rentals, Battery Dangers (2024)

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July 1-7

Unruly Crowd Laws

The Wrap: Unruly Crowd Laws, Rentals, Battery Dangers (1)

Summer at the Shore has recently come to include unruly crowds, often juveniles, smoking marijuana, engaging in underage drinking, and generally disrupting the peaceful enjoyment of the county’s beaches and boardwalks. Feeling protected by new state juvenile reform legislation, they leave in their wake intimidated tourists, damaged property and, at times, individuals who suffered assaults.

Pleas for help from Trenton have been met with dismissive comments by the state attorney general and an inability of Shore legislators to get corrective measures passed. Shore towns have responded with local ordinances setting curfews, closing beaches and boardwalks, and limiting the use of backpacks.

Residents who may have poured their life savings into a Shore home feel their investment threatened, police complain of being handcuffed by state laws and directives, and Gen Zers act with impunity, feeling protected by a state shield.

A new summer brought new problems, including a state of emergency in Wildwood and a stabbing in Ocean City. It has also brought new attempts to address the problem.

In June, Margate announced that police would begin ticketing parents or guardians of unruly teenagers under the city’s Parental Responsibility ordinance.

The problem of rowdy juveniles has also spread inland. On June 1 a large group of juveniles disrupted Gloucester Township Day with large fights, leading to dozens of arrests.

Assemblyman Dan Hutchison (D-Camden) is chief sponsor of a bill that would make it a crime to incite a public brawl and that also sets up a new disorderly conduct charge if someone acts “with purpose to disrupt or cause disturbance at a public gathering or event.” Hutchison is also a sponsor of a bill that would have parents and legal guardians face possible fines or jail time if they engage in “willful or wanton disregard” of minors under their supervision.

Assemblyman Cody Miller (D-Gloucester) has introduced a bill that would direct the attorney general to create and provide crowd management training programs for local police in towns that have experienced at least two flash mobs or pop-up parties in the past year.

While Gov. Murphy and other state officials celebrate their juvenile reform initiatives, towns both inland and at the Shore must deal with their unintended consequences.

Rentals

The Wrap: Unruly Crowd Laws, Rentals, Battery Dangers (2)

In Cape May County and across the state, rents are rising much faster than family incomes, creating a crisis for those who cannot afford to own a home.

An article in the Pew Trust Magazine recently told of the high cost of “putting a roof over your head,” specifically looking at what the article called “skyrocketing rents.” According to Pew, rents nationally have risen by more than 30% in seven years.

In Shore communities, where long-term renters must compete with vacation rentals and the exploding short-term rental phenomenon, the problem of supply, and therefore price, gets worse. Add to this the rising costs of owning a car, buying groceries and paying the energy bill, and the crisis deepens.

This is especially a problem for an aging county like Cape May that is losing young and working class families. Forbes data shows the majority of American renters are between 35 and 44 years old. The second-largest group are those under 29 years old.

We have begun to hear that the decision by the county to reclaim control of the 1,000-acre county airport has to do in some way with housing. We have nothing yet approaching details, nor has the county shared its goals for the property with the public.

Lithium-Ion Battery Dangers

The Wrap: Unruly Crowd Laws, Rentals, Battery Dangers (3)

Hazpak, a company that specializes in dangerous goods packaging for air, sea and road freight, has a message for summer Shore residents and visitors: Lithium-ion batteries can present a danger, and precautions should be taken.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are everywhere in our daily life. They power smartphones, laptops, wireless headphones, portable chargers, e-bikes and even electric toothbrushes and e-cigarettes. They arrive at the Shore by the tens of thousands each day of the summer season.

Just under two weeks ago in Toms River, on June 26, an e-bike battery pack exposed to the sun exploded into flames. Fire responders were able to extinguish the fire in what was a close call for the homeowner.

Lithium-ion batteries are safe to use, but some education and care may be required. Public safety departments are reporting more incidents simply because the prevalence of the batteries has increased so dramatically.

Following a March 11 blaze in a Manhattan apartment complex, the Wall Street Journal reported that “the city has had nearly three dozen blazes sparked by lithium-ion batteries so far this year.” The March 11 blaze was traced to an e-bike under a first-floor stairwell.

On lithium-ion-powered devices, officials advise looking for a certification label from a nationally recognized testing laboratory. There should be markings such as UL, ETL, CSA or SGS on packaging or on the products themselves.

The New Jersey Division of Fire Safety has issued lithium-ion battery safety tips. The state Department of Community Affairs has specifically advised Shore communities to pay attention. Batteries overheated by the sun, especially defective batteries, can result in a tragedy.

Another warning is to avoid second-hand electronic devices purchased from platforms like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, especially e-bikes and e-scooters. If you are going to buy a refurbished device, the recommendation is that you buy a certified refurbished product directly from the brand. Trading off safety for less expense is a poor choice, officials say.

Happenings

Public tips led to the arrest of two teenage boys charged with aggravated assault for attacking Lucas Golembewski on the boardwalk on June 8 in North Wildwood. The suspects, aged 17 and 16, turned themselves in on June 27 after police released images of them and their vehicle.

Cape Regional Health System has merged with Cooper University Health Care, rebranding its hospital as Cooper University Hospital Cape Regional. This merger aims to improve health care services for Cape May County by utilizing Cooper’s extensive resources and expertise.

A necropsy report concluded that Ice, an 18-year-old Percheron gelding from the Cape May Carriage Co., likely died from a blood clot or cardiac arrest on June 27, with no signs of abuse or neglect. Despite accusations of animal cruelty, the company stated that Ice was well cared for and loved.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Oregon town’s ban on homeless residents sleeping outdoors, which may impact similar ordinances in places like Middle Township, Cape May County. The decision has garnered mixed reactions, with supporters citing public order and critics arguing it criminalizes homelessness without addressing root causes.

A good Samaritan called 911 and performed CPR on an unconscious man found on Myrtle Avenue beach in Wildwood Crest on the morning of July 2, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death is pending an autopsy, and there are no indications of foul play, according to police.

At Ocean City’s annual reorganization meeting on July 1, four newly elected City Council members were sworn in at the Music Pier. They outlined their goals, including maintaining community values and addressing local development and zoning challenges, amidst routine business and public commentary on various issues.

A Superior Court judge has approved a stay on an order that would have allowed the state to take possession of the Sunset Beach Sportsmen’s Club building, pending the club’s appeal. The club continues operating amid a legal battle over its property and alcohol license, emphasizing community ties in its defense.

Eleanor “Ellie” Scott Bickel, turning 100 on July 26, has navigated a resilient life with support from her family through hardships including parental loss and later caring for her grandchildren. Despite facing dementia, she finds joy in simple pleasures and remains an inspiration with her humor and enduring spirit.

The Atlantic Shores South offshore wind project gained federal approval to install 195 turbines off Atlantic City and Long Beach Island, aiming to power nearly a million homes by 2029.

Avalon Borough Council reorganized, appointing Mari Coskey as president and Barbara Juzaitis as vice president, signaling a transition from long-standing to newer council leadership.

Capt. Tracey Super was sworn in as Middle Township’s new police chief on July 1, succeeding retiring Chief Jennifer Pooler after an 18-year career with the department, marking a significant leadership transition in the community.

A fatal accident on Route 347 in Eldora claimed the life of a 17-year-old from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, on July 1. The teenager, driving a Toyota southbound, crossed the center line and collided with a Ford pickup truck driven by a Bridgeton man, resulting in a multi-vehicle crash.

State Sen. Michael Testa and North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello celebrated the completion of a swift beach replenishment project in the city, which added 750,000 cubic yards of sand in just 21 days, allowing for the relaxation of beach tent size restrictions.

Insa Middle Township’s cannabis retail store, originally targeted to open on July 14, faces delays with completion now hoped for by year-end, as Mayor Christopher Leusner indicated at a recent Township Committee meeting.

Shirley MacLaine and Stephen Dorff star in “People Not Places,” filmed partially at The Shores senior living facility in Ocean City. The film explores an elderly widow’s relationship with a homeless man amid themes of loneliness and personal redemption.

The Wrap: Unruly Crowd Laws, Rentals, Battery Dangers (4)

Spout Off of the Week

Cape May County – To the Avalon Spouter asking whose idea it was to have “Patriotic” Theme for the 4th of July Boat Parade (since that is political). Sorry, but last time we looked, Patriotic is Red, White & Blue……… not just Red or Blue………! To all the boaters that were in the Parade- Great Job! Although, next year lets see Bubbles rather than Water Balloons, since it is THE BAY (that needs to be protected).

Read more spouts at spoutoff.capemaycountyherald.com. 

The Wrap: Unruly Crowd Laws, Rentals, Battery Dangers (2024)
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