EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — When black ice coated the porch early one March, Joe Stewart’s wife slipped while getting the morning newspaper. He called 911 and, within minutes, an ambulance arrived at their home in Seaview Harbor, a tiny community on a Shore causeway.
Out popped the mayor of Longport, Nick Russo.
“I call 911 and the next thing I know, the mayor of Longport comes over in the emergency ambulance truck and renders aid,” said Stewart.
The mayoral treatment — Russo is trained in emergency medical services — only crystalized the every-day contradictions felt by residents of Seaview, a marina community just up and over a bridge and causeway leading to Longport, the affluent Shore community at the end of Absecon Island.
Seaview Harbor is technically part of Egg Harbor Township, but residents want to be part of desirable Longport. Who wouldn’t?
Longport already provides emergency services, underscoring the inescapable geographic reality: Seaview Harbor is much closer to Longport than any part of sprawling Egg Harbor Township.
Residents like Stewart say they feel much more a part of Longport than they do of Egg Harbor Township.
“My driver’s license, my insurance, my mail ... everything has a Longport address,” Stewart said.
And those Egg Harbor taxes, perhaps the single driver of a secession movement that has been around for approaching five years. Now, though, residents have successfully petitioned to leave the township and have a trial date July 8 before Atlantic County Judge Julio Mendez.
Since March 2014, the Egg Harbor Township Planning Board has held 32 hearings on the proposed de-annexation of Seaview Harbor from Egg Harbor Township, according to Seaview Harbor attorney John Paul Doyle.
The lack of services provided by the township, steep tax rates, and the fact that the community isn’t even contiguous with Egg Harbor Township are among the reasons the the 99-home neighborhood and harbor of Seaview want to leave and join neighboring Longport.
The coastal community of Seaview Harbor consists of a boat club, marina, and affluent residential neighborhood. The estimated median household income for Seaview is $84,671, compared to Egg Harbor Township’s $70,875. Longport’s is $106,719.
If Seaview secedes, its residents stand to gain from a lower tax rate in Longport (though their properties could also end up being reassessed to Longport standards).
So the petition to secede has fiscal implications for Egg Harbor Township.
By Egg Harbor’s own account, if Seaview Harbor leaves, the township would lose $505,000 in annual revenue and the school district would lose $1,841,466, which is less than 1% of Egg Harbor’s $140.9 million school budget for 2018-2019. Seaview’s tax dollars would subsequently go to Longport, if absorbed by the borough.