Sadly, homeowners continue to struggle with recovery and rebuild of their entire properties which became necessary after Superstorm Sandy devastated our area last October.
As they move forward, there is a time to consider replacement of lawns and gardens in a way which can also help Barnegat Bay recover from its long standing
Recently in the quaint waterfront community of Pine Beach, a local code violation for property ‘maintenance’ resulted in a court case against a resident. Fortunately the case has since been dismissed, and that decision represented a victory for Barnegat Bay’s water quality.
In Pine Beach, a long-time resident had a natural yard full of native plants, shrubs, trees and meadow grass in lieu of a high-maintenance, fully-manicured lawn and garden.
The property was environmentally friendly in that the landscaping choices did not require any fertilizers, pesticides or mowing. It provided habitat and attracted birds, butterflies and pollinators. It allowed rainwater to infiltrate into the undisturbed, uncompacted soils.
Not applying harmful chemicals, providing habitat for species and limiting runoff from our properties are all victories for clean water and a healthier Barnegat Bay.
Local code enforcement officials originally cited the homeowner for several property code violations including ‘weeds.’ After much photo documentation and literature about low-maintenance landscaping from both environmental and governmental organizations, it was clear that this particular property owner did not belong in court defending landscaping choices-- but in fact was a property and homeowner that was helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem and should be exemplified.
The outcome serves as a springboard for us to begin a dialogue about the issue of property ‘maintenance’ and personal landscape choices. Municipalities can and should make sure their municipal codes -- that are put in place to enforce how
residents should maintain specific aesthetics of the grounds outside of their
homes -- do not actually penalize lawn and garden preferences which are good
for the Bay. This is doubly important as we consider how to restore the Shore
The American Littoral Society promotes native plant gardens through our program “Bayscape for Barnegat Bay.”
Additionally, we are working with local legislators to develop a tax credit program for property owners who limit lawn areas and utilize native plants; we encourage businesses and municipalities to seek out ways to better manage stormwater through Low Impact Development practices (LID) and green infrastructure; and we facilitate environmentally friendly shoreline designs such as “Living Shorelines” to help protect against erosion from future storm events.
Please join us, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Save Barnegat Bay and Clean Ocean Action on Wednesday, March 20th from 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library, Mancini Hall, 101 Washington Street, Toms River to learn more about Low Impact Development and other programs that will help us improve Barnegat Bay water quality and habitat as we all continue to recover from Sandy.
Opening remarks will be given by 10th District Assemblyman Wolfe. Please RSVP your attendance to Jaclyn Rhoads at 609-859-8860 ext. 18 or Jaclyn@pinelandsalliance.org