The small town of Sea Isle, through a gazebo and a lighthouse

    Just so you guys don’t think I’m picking on Ocean City out of spite (I love Ocean City — I do!), let’s take a look at small town politics in Sea Isle.

    Yesterday, the Daily News published Jason Nark’s excellent piece about Louise Clemente, a Sea Isle senior citizen who is battling the town over her backyard wooden gazebo. The crux of the fight? 4.89 ft. She says it’s under the city’s 15-ft. limit. The town says that the height is “measured by the curb of the property,” city solicitor Paul Baldini told Nark, not the raised ground the gazebo is built on.

    Sea Isle even went so far as to issue a warrant for her arrest when she ignored a summons issued over the gazebo.

    So the town of Sea Isle wanted to arrest a little old lady over 4.89 ft. Over a gazebo — and not some monstrous vinyl thing like what’s replaced the old Promenade gazebo. This is a wooden gazebo her children had given her in memory of their father that displays scenes in Sea Isle’s history (Clemente says the town’s really going after her because they asked her to donate it, and she refused).

    This isn’t the only time Sea Isle had fallen down the rabbit hole of semantics. In 2009, a battle errupted over the former Ludlam Beach Lighthouse. Didn’t know there was a lighthouse in Sea Isle? Can’t blame you —what was left of this one hadn’t had an actual light on it since the 1920s. It was moved twice before ending up at 34th and Landis in the 1940s. As it last stood, the 1885 building was a dilapidated summer rental. I walked past it many times in the summer of 2009 and couldn’t believe the building was still standing let alone had been a lighthouse.

    The owner of the building wanted to donate it so he could move it off the site and build new homes on the property. No one bit. It was torn down in September of 2010.

    In many ways, this is what makes the shore so fascinating. Sure, some things never change, but something’s always going on down the shore. Even if it’s a little old lady fighting for her gazebo.

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