Shore town considers jailing motorists generating large waves during flooding

Car driving through a flooded street. (FEMA)

Car driving through a flooded street. (FEMA)

A Cape May County municipality is considering an ordinance that would levy fines or possible jail time for any motorists who generate waves on flooded streets that breach a street or curb line.

Stone Harbor is the latest in a slew of Jersey Shore municipalities that have either formally considered or adopted into law what is now known as “no wake ordinances.”

The municipality introduced the ordinance, which applies to flooding on public roadways exceeding six inches in depth, during the April 2 council meeting and will consider passage of the law at a later date.

“The operation of motor vehicles on flooded roadways can create a wave or wake which carries beyond the street edge or curb line and causes damage to public and private property,” the legislation’s preamble states. “The Mayor and Council deem it prudent to create regulations in order to protect public and private property which can be damaged during flooding condition (within) the streets of the Borough.”

Anyone violating would face a fine of not more than $1,250 or up to 90 days in jail, and it is not a defense that the generated wave did not cause any damage to public or private property, according to the ordinance.

Long Beach Island’s Ship Bottom sparked the expanding no wake zone movement last May, establishing a system of signs to educate motorists about slowing their speed to reduce or eliminate wake from entering homes.

That regulation prohibits motorists from generating wake that travels beyond a street edge or curb line and permits police to enforce the regulation. Violators must appear in municipal court and could face a fine.

Ship Bottom police previously said that there was an uptick in thrill-seeking visitors to the small borough during the consecutive March 2018 nor’easters that sped through inundation in flooded areas.

North Wildwood adopted a similar ordinance in late 2018, and Sea Isle City last month proposed a regulation that would prescribe a fine or jail time.

Jersey Shore Hurricane News commenters on a previous no wake zone proposal have come out on both sides of the fence.

Ryan Matthew questioned the need for a vehicle no wake zone, saying “or they could just fix the drainage issues?”

“Never mind, the skeptic in me thinks this is how they will pay to correct it,” he quipped.

But Adam Fallone said there’s no need to complain about the ordinance “if you use common sense.”

“Why would anyone think it’s a good idea to drive fast through flooded areas?” he pondered.

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