Jersey Shore mayors are sounding the alarm about a proposed expansion of off-shore wind turbines off the coast of Ocean County.

😎 Concern Number One: Optics  

Eyesores from the beach

Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra believes many people may not want to come to the beaches if these wind turbines are just offshore.

"I believe very strongly that having these offshore wind turbines within the visual horizon — which means closer than around 30 nautical miles offshore — would be nothing less than devastating to our tourism economy here in Ocean County," Kanitra said. "I think that the way that this has been moving — the speed that it is moving, the fact that it's been moving behind the scenes and that a lot of very shady deals have been occurring in tandem with it — is something that people really need to wake up to because by the time they see the ships going out there to start building these things, it's going to be way too late."

It's not just the wind turbines that would be in the water that's a concern for Kanitra, but what would happen on the beach itself and with nothing that can be done locally to stop it.

"The state passed a bill in the middle of the night about a year ago that essentially supersedes any kind of local ordinances, local zoning, any policies that pertain to infrastructure or having any control over what would happen in our own town in relation to this — transmission cables coming on shore, infrastructure to help build and maintain these things — the state Legislature said 'we don't care what your town wants and what your town has authorized, we're going to let these companies come in and do whatever they want in your towns' and that was a very, very concerning thing to us," Kanitra said.

Kanitra said there's concern about the optics during the day and at night from these wind turbines and part of the reason why is people want to go to the beach and look at the horizon with unobstructed views.

"If you look out onto the visual horizon, and you see what really is our last pristine natural resource in New Jersey covered with wind turbines and flashing red lights at night, it's nothing short of the industrialization of the ocean," Kanitra said. "We're not anti-clean energy, we're anti ruining our tourist economy in Point Pleasant Beach and in Ocean County."

🚩 Concern Number Two: Tourism  

Possible damage to summer tourism.

Tourism is a huge part of the local economies of Monmouth and Ocean counties.

"If these are visible off our beaches, I think that's going to be a detraction," Toms River Mayor Maurice "Mo" Hill said.

While the beach is a big reason why people come to Ocean County in the summer, another reason for tourists and locals to head towards or into the water is to fish and there's concern about this industry as well.

"We do have a substantial commercial fishing industry (in Ocean County) off of Point Pleasant, Barnegat, you've got commercial fisheries. What impact that'll have if they're out using nets and they've got to be mindful that these are jetting up out of the water — it could impact the fishing," Hill said.

"In some cases, as far as sport fishing, it may stimulate that, but will it impact the commercial fishing — that's a concern I think also. I can just imagine if these things are placed the way I'm seeing them being placed — they're going to be close together, so, it's going to be a hazard to navigation out there — it's just another obstacle you're going to have to be careful of."

💵 Concern Number Three: Local Economy 

If these offshore wind farms are built, and many are not coming to the beach, it could be a big-time problem for these municipalities.

"We don't have the luxury of just taking huge chunks of those who are coming and supporting our restaurants and businesses and tossing them away for a project like this," Kanitra said.

Another financial concern expressed by some of the Ocean County mayors is the domino effect that wind turbines will have, starting with the tourism economy and its impact on beaches, restaurants, and businesses and then onto taxpayers.

"The economic impact of this is going to be widespread, just a 10% drop in tourism — if that's all that there is as a result of these — that's going to cause real businesses to go out and not come back," Kanitra said. "It's going to hurt my residents because of the jobs that those businesses provide — it's going to have far flung effects across the state and the county that relies on the tax revenue from those businesses and that economic impact."

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