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Ventnor City Passes Bag Fee Ordinance, Receives $10,000 Grant for Outreach and Education
Community News and Reports

5/22/2018
Ventnor officially adopted an ordinance to encourage residents to bring their own bags to stores by placing a five-cent fee on single-use plastic and paper bags. The ordinance will go into effect on October 1, 2018.

As a coastal community, the City believes the ordinance is an important measure that will reduce plastic pollution and protect its beaches and oceans.

The City is the fourth city in the state and the second in Atlantic County to take a stand on this important issue (Longport became the first municipality in New Jersey to enact this measure in November 2015). Since then, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson has called on mayors of all Atlantic County towns to consider taking action.  

Ventnor City Mayor Beth Holtzman said this ordinance is about future generations. “We need to make changes for them,” Holtzman said.

The Ventnor Green Team has received a $10,000 grant from Sustainable Jersey to give away reusable bags and create outreach materials, such as local signage and advertising, to inform the community about the change.

All stores will be responsible for implementing the five-cent fee on both paper and plastic bags (paper is included because the cost to provide them in place of plastic would be a burden to business owners). Restaurants and street vendors are exempt from the fee. Any business found to be in violation of the ordinance will be issued a warning. If a business continues to violate the ordinance after the warning, they will receive a $100 fine for each violation.
 
All funds generated by the fee will stay with the business.
 
Anyone receiving nutrition benefits such as SNAP and WIC will not be charged the five-cent fee.

The ordinance was the culmination of a four-year outreach and education effort by Sustainable Downbeach, the Ventnor Green Team and Surfrider Foundation, South Jersey Chapter.

City Receives Bike Lane Grant
Community News and Reports

5/22/2018
Ventnor was the recipient of a bikeway grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to create a bike lane along Atlantic Avenue connecting Longport to the new Stockton University Campus along Atlantic Avenue.

Dedicated bike lanes are proven to create safer conditions for both bikers and drivers and help make biking a more viable mode of transportation. The lane is expected to be complete by the fall.

The lanes will be built on the recommendations of the Ventnor-Margate Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Plan completed by an engineering firm in 2016. The plan, developed to meet our community's specific challenges, such as increased summer population, aims to increase safety for all those utilizing our roadways.

View the full study and plan by clicking here.

Steps to Overhaul Wellington Avenue Firehouse Begin
Community News and Reports

5/22/2018
Design and engineering plans are currently being drafted for Ventnor City's second fire station on Wellington Avenue. The current station has served as the City's second firehouse since 1973. 

Over time, the department and its equipment have outgrown the facility, and the structure no longer meets FEMA's requirements for critical infrastructure. Commissioners voted in January to tear down the building and replace it with a new, fully compliant firehouse. 

Bids for demolition and construction will commence once design plans are finalized. It is expected that demolition be complete before the end of the year, and construction to begin in early 2019. 

Did you know? Ventnor City is required to have two firehouses to comply with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards that dictate response time requirements, which keeps fire insurance costs low.  The two stations also ensure the department could get to those in need if the Dorset Avenue Bridge was up.

R-7 Zoning Changes
Community News and Reports

5/22/2018
Ventnor’s Planning Board and Governing Body recently adopted changes to the R-7 Zone to encourage and entice new development. 
 
Currently, two-family dwellings are not permitted in the zone, but have been allowed to be demolished and rebuilt under a process that has not complied with state and local planning regulations. When Commissioner Lance Landgraf became aware of this, suggestions were made to the Planning Board that would encourage the redevelopment of the two-family homes, but in a manner that is both appropriate and in compliance with the state requirements.
 
The result was an ordinance, now adopted, that allows, under a conditional use, that two-family dwellings that have a valid certificate of nonconformity, provided all bulk requirements are being met, to be demolished and reconstructed without the need for a variance.  This type of redevelopment was very successful in Margate and encourages new construction that meets both the local construction code and FEMA flood elevation requirements.
 
Planning Board Chairman Jay Cooke, Vice Chair Tom McAdam, Board Member Roman Zabihach, along with Board Planner and Engineer Roger McLarnon and Solicitor Leo Manos, Esq., came together and drafted the amendment that will enable the redevelopment to be conducted with our regulations and at cost that is minimized by eliminating the board application process.  City Solicitor Tim Maguire put the final touches on the ordinance and briefed the Mayor and Commissioner Kriebel on the ordinance before the adoption.
 
Numerous other common-sense zoning ordinances are being reviewed as part of Sustainable Ventnor and as a result of the Master Plan Review.

Ventnor’s Capital Improvement Program Helps Guide Spending
Community News and Reports

1/1/2018
Keeping a city up and running as efficiently as possible takes effort and planning. As a way to make this process as effective as possible, Ventnor commissioned James M. Rutala and Associates and Arthur Ponzio to develop a Capital Improvement Plan for Ventnor. While a Capital Improvement Plan may be designed to forecast any period, it generally extends beyond the current operating cycle or administration and usually covers a three-to five-year time frame.

A Capital Improvement Plan has many important benefits, including:

• It allows for a comprehensive evaluation of all potential projects simultaneously
• It allows local government to focus on maintaining infrastructure in a systematic and timely way
• It can sometimes help to stabilize debt and consolidate projects, which helps to reduce borrowing costs
• It helps communicate priorities to residents and demonstrate how the governing body intends to spend money
• It can serve as an economic development

Using its capital plan, city commissioners prioritized certain infrastructure projects and recently issued a bond ordinance to pay for the upgrades and improvements. Because Ventnor saved money on collective bargaining agreements last fall, refunded exisiting bonds and will maximize grant funds, only a slight increase in taxes, if any increase, will be incurred. The city is also hoping to borrow money through the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT) to fund certain repairs. The NJEIT is a state borrowing program that lends money to communities for infrastructure repairs and improvements at very low interest rates.

The city recently authorized $20.8 million in bond ordinances for the following projects:

• Bond ordinance 2017-038 amends an ordinance approved in 2007 and increases the previous appropriation by $846,000, bringing the total bond amount to $1,230,324. The breakdown on projects includes $450,000 to rehabilitate the Ventnor Fishing Pier; $676,400 for improvements to the library, lifeguard stations and tennis courts; $139,600 for public safety equipment including lifeguard boats, parking meters, recording equipment and turn-out gear; and $30,000 for basketball court improvements. About $800,000 has already been funded through a Green Acres grant.

• Bond ordinance 2017-039 appropriates $400,000 for water and sewer utility improvements including replacing sewer mains and lateral improvements on the Wellington and Winchester lines, plus improvements to the gas chlorine system and the Surrey Avenue pump station.

• Bond ordinance 2017-040 appropriates $4,576,430 for water and sewer utility improvements including lateral improvements on Baltimore, Derby, Newark avenues from Monmouth Avenue to Winchester Avenue; stormwater evaluations and improvements; water mains at various locations; and the purchase utility trucks, ATVs, a trailer, fire hydrants, meters, meter housing and an emergency generator.
 
• Bond ordinance 2017-041 appropriates $13,209,039 for general capital improvements as follows: $800,000 for bulkhead improvements at Surrey and Calvert avenues; $500,000 for drainage improvements on Kingsley Drive; $3,774,700 for improvements to the public works building, including grading the lawn and installation of a new roof, Fire Station 2, the library, tennis courts and municipal lot. The bond also appropriates $3,799,536 for improvements to various roads; $500,000 for curbs, gutters and ramps; and $1,225,900 for public safety vehicles, security cameras, surf boats, jet skis and SUVs. The bond appropriates $709,000 for a fire engine and ambulance; $480,000 for an SUV with plow, a loader, backhoe and crane; and $1,419,903 for an elevation assistance program that will be reimbursed by a grant.

• Bond ordinance 2017-042 appropriates $1,785,000 for park and beach improvements including improvements to Ski Beach, landscaping and installation of a living shoreline at Ventnor West, the city’s share of beach replenishment and ramp walkover improvements.

"Much of the city's vital infrastructure, including both the sanitary and storm sewer systems, as well as bulkheads, are in need of repair," said Commissioner Tim Kriebel. "These systems are the backbone of our community and having them in good working condition directly impacts property values. It would be negligent of us as commissioners to let these systems deteriorate any further," Kriebel noted.

 Click here to view a copy of the city's capital improvement plan.

Ventnor Received Approval for Higher Flood Insurance Discounts
Community News and Reports

1/1/2018
Ventnor property owners who have flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program will start to receive a greater flood insurance discount. Mayor Holtzman stated, "The City has been successful in increasing its flood insurance discounts to 25 percent."

As of October 2017, there were 4,747 property owners in Ventnor with federal flood insurance. Over $1 billion worth of property is insured with policyholders paying $4.2 million in premiums in 2017 alone. A twenty-five percent discount will save the residents of Ventnor at least $1,056,800 next year. Since flood insurance rates are increasing each year, this savings will grow in the future.

With this recertification, Ventnor is now rated Class 5 which is the highest level achieved by any community in the area. The flood insurance discount is based on the total number of points that the City earns. A community accrues points to improve its CRS Class rating and receive increasingly higher discounts. Points are awarded for engaging in any of 19 creditable activities, organized under four categories: public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction, warning and response.

The 25-percent premium reductions for property owners will take effect until after May 1, 2018, when they renew their current flood insurance policies or changed flood insurance providers.

Rutala Associates, the City's Planning Consultant, led the reclassification effort. "This was a team effort," continued Mayor Holtzman. "Special thanks to several city officials for their assistance in helping the City achieve a Class 5 rating, including City Administrator Maria Mento, Dino Cavalieri, Community Rating System Coordinator; Jimmie Agnesino, Building Official; Donna Peterson, Emergency Management Coordinator; Police Chief Doug Biagi; Dave Smith, Public Works Director and City Engineer Roger McLarnon." Ventnor officials are already working to achieve a Class 4 certification to further increase the insurance discount to thirty percent. A prerequisite to a Class 4 is the completion of a Watershed Management Plan. The City, along with Margate and Longport, have been awarded a grant from Sustainable Jersey to develop this Plan. The Stockton Coastal Research Center has been retained to develop the Watershed Management Plan which should be completed early in 2018.

FEMA Flood Elevation Assistance
Community News and Reports

1/1/2018
Any Ventnor homeowners that had Sandy damage and are interested in elevating their home are encouraged to apply for FEMA Flood Elevation Assistance. Grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Flood Mitigation Assistance (FEMA-FMA) Program are expected to be available incrementally over the next several years.

Through the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, eight properties were awarded grants in 2016 and five in 2017. Applications are now being accepted for 2018. The FEMA program provides resources to assist communities in their efforts to reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings that are insured under the National Flood Insurance Program.

To apply, please contact Jim Rutala at jmrutala@comcast.net. Mr. Rutala will assist each applicant and work through the requirements with them.

Streetscape Concept Designs Shared for North Beach Business District
Community News and Reports

1/1/2018


Pictured above is one of several Ventnor City Streetscape Concept Designs prepared by Marathon Engineering for the North Beach Business District. Improvements to the area are set to begin after the 2018 season to minimize disruption in the area.
 
As a result of damage and lost ratables incurred from Superstorm Sandy, the city secured an $800,000 streetscape grant from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for the North Beach Business District. The improvements will contribute to the revitalization of an area financially impacted by the storm.
 
The streetscape improvements will include the installation of hanging plants from decorative street lights, trash and recycling containers, pedestrian scale lighting, sidewalk improvements, way finding signage and street trees and decorative tree grates to help create a better walking experience and sense of place, while also improving pedestrian safety by softening the appearance of the roadway, calming traffic and making bicyclists and pedestrians more visible. Street trees in particular have been documented to provide several general benefits (e.g. reduced air and noise pollution, traffic calming and protection from the elements). The improvements are estimated to cost approximately $250,000 per block.
 
To view the complete concept design package, click here.

Ventnor to Consider Building Code Changes to Prepare for EVs
Community News and Reports

1/1/2018
Did you know that the transportation sector in New Jersey is responsible for more than 43 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions? Because of this, the State of New Jersey is offering incentives to communities and businesses to install charging stations. Sales of electric vehicles continue to climb steadily throughout the country and the need for charging infrastructure is growing quickly. In order to be ahead of the curve, Ventnor City Commissioners are considering a recommendation from the green team to update zoning ordinances to include Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment as a permitted accessory use in select or all areas of the city. The city will also consider a plug-in electric vehicle ordinance which includes regulations and design standards for electric vehicle parking spaces and design standards for installation of charging stations.

Bike Racks Coming to Ventnor
Community News and Reports

1/1/2018
Thanks to a $137,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Ventnor and Margate will soon be receiving new bicycle racks throughout both communities. The bike racks, which are made in the U.S.A. and will sport various designs, depending on their location, will be placed on public property to address the growing popularity of biking throughout Absecon Island. Diane Birkbeck, a member of the city's green team, was instrumental in moving the project forward. And avid biker, Diane was aware of locations throughout the city where bike racks were lacking and helped pick site-specific designs. For example, the bike rack in front of city hall will feature a large "V". Look for construction and installation to begin this spring.

Meet the Ventnor City Department Heads
Community News and Reports

1/1/2018
Doug Biagi, Police Chief
 


Chief Douglas Biagi was born and raised in Ventnor City, New Jersey. He attended Ventnor Public Schools and Atlantic City High School, graduating in 1983. At the age of 14, Doug was hired as a tennis court attendant and then as part of the summer beach cleaning crew. In 1986, he joined the ranks of the Ventnor City Fire Department as a Firefighter/EMT.
 
His career in law enforcement started in 1988 with the Ventnor City Police Department. By September of 1991, Biagi was transferred from the Patrol Division to the Detective Bureau as the Juvenile Detective. During that same year, Biagi established and maintained the Department’s D.A.R.E. program in Ventnor’s public and parochial school systems. In January of 1993, Biagi was promoted to Sergeant and remained in the Detective Bureau until 1995 when he was transferred out of the Detective Bureau to supervise the Community Policing Bike Unit. In October of 2000, Biagi was transferred to the Patrol Division and was promoted to Lieutenant in April of 2002.
 
Biagi’s next promotion would occur in January of 2012 when he was promoted to Captain and was assigned as Operations Commander of the Patrol Division. In 2014, Captain Biagi was reassigned as the Administrative Captain and took over as the Departments Accreditation Manager for NJSACOP. During his time as Captain, Biagi was the department’s Acting Chief when Chief Miller was out of state or on vacation. In April of 2017, Douglas Biagi was made Acting Chief of Police, and on May 1,  2017, he was named the permanent Chief of the Ventnor City Police Department.
 
During his career, Biagi's path was primarily focused on Community Policing and bridging the gap between law enforcement and the citizens of Ventnor. Biagi is an anachronism of sorts, utilizing the old style beat cop persona. Biagi knows most residents in Ventnor, from its merchants to its children, and interacts with them regularly because of his strong roots with the community. Biagi has lived his entire life in Ventnor, raised his family in Ventnor and remains active in the community by volunteering with many committees. Biagi is presently on the Ventnor City Board of Education, a position he has held for nearly 10 years. Through the course of his more than 30 years in law enforcement, Chief Biagi has received numerous commendations and awards, including the New Jersey State PBA award for Heroism.
 
Biagi's education includes a dual Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Stockton State College, where he graduated in 1988. He continues to work towards his Master’s Degree in criminal Justice from St. Joseph's University. Chief Biagi is a current member of the PBA Local #97 and has served as President, Recording Secretary as well as on the Executive Board. Biagi is also an avid martial artist obtaining his 2nd degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do from the Ninja Karate Academy.
 
 
Toro Aboderin, Chief Finance Officer

 
Toro Aboderin joined the City of Ventnor City in January 2009. She oversees all aspects of the City’s finances, including managing the budget, serving as custodian of all public funds and ensuring compliance with all statutes, rules and directives pertaining to financial administration. Toro brings to the City nearly 10 years of experience in governmental accounting, with a focus to improve performance and productivity.
 
Prior to the City of Ventnor, Toro served as Principal Accountant in the County of Atlantic Public Works Department. She played a key role in auditing of and reporting on the many Divisions within the Department of Public Works.
 
Toro received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Stockton University in 1996, a Certificate in Client/Server Technology from Penn State School of Graduate Studies in 2001 and a Certificate in Human Resource Management from Villanova University in 2015. She is a Certified Municipal Finance Officer.
 
In the time that Toro has been with the City of Ventnor, she has worked to clear all 23 audit findings from prior audits.  She has developed policies and procedures to improve performance and productivity in the Finance Office.
 
Outside of work, Toro serves on the Solid Waste Advisory Council.  She serves as the Financial Secretary, Sunday School teacher, Bus Captain and in many other Ministries in her Church. She enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.
 
Toro’s motto for the Finance Office for 2018 is “to build a workplace where people are inspired to work hard, do well and celebrate success.”
 
Michael P. Cahill, Fire Chief



Born and raised in Ventnor, Chief Cahill comes from a long line of Ventnor firefighters. His older brother, Dan Cahill, who passed away in April 2017, served as Ventnor City’s Fire Chief for 19 years until retiring in 2005. Chief Cahill’s godfather also served as a Ventnor City Firefighter.

Chief Cahill began his career in 1994 when he was hired by the Ventnor City Fire Department. Ten years later, in July 2004, he was promoted to Fire Lieutenant. Chief Cahill continued his progression up through the ranks and in March 2008 was named Acting Captain. His next promotion was to Fire Captain in November of that same year. Almost seven years later, Chief Cahill was named Fire Deputy Chief in September 2015. In October 2017 he was promoted to Fire Chief.
  
Chief Cahill also serves as the lead fire instructor and course designer at the Atlantic County Fire Academy at the Canale Training Center where he has been on staff since 2002.
 
Chief Cahill also served as a member of New Jersey Task Force 1, a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team for 10 years, retiring upon his promotion to chief. As a member of the task force, he made four emergency deployments as a member of Blue Team/ Rescue Squad 12 in the role of rescue technician and squad leader.
 
Chief Cahill was also deployed as a FEMA specialist to the Gulf coast of Mississippi and Alabama for 35 days following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
 
Chief Cahill and his wife of 25 years, Judy Kobrinsky, have four children -- one girl and three boys.
 
 
Lisa Hand, City Clerk and Municipal Registrar


 
Lisa Hand currently serves as the City Clerk and Municipal Registrar, a role she began in in October 2016 when she joined the City of Ventnor.
 
Lisa began her career in municipal government in September 2004. She began pursuing her Municipal Clerk career in the spring of 2013 and became a Registered Municipal Clerk in April of 2015. Along with being a Registered Municipal Clerk, Lisa is also a Certified Municipal Registrar.  
 
William Franklin Crowther, CTA, Tax Assessor


 
William Franklin Crowther, CTA (Bill) is the Tax Assessor for the City of Ventnor, whose mission is to create an atmosphere in public service based on the fundamental concept of transparency in local government, while upholding his statutory duty of distributing the tax burden fair and equitable across his taxing district.
 
After spending well over a decade in the tax assessing field, working throughout the State of New Jersey in various municipal and county government offices, Bill truly knows what it takes to ensure his community is at its best and understands that it is not only through hard work and dedication, but how well you connect with the public you are there to serve.
 
Bill strives to provide excellence in public service in a courteous, timely and professional manner, while educating the public regarding the overall assessment process and property tax relief programs.
 
 
Bill holds a Certified Tax Assessors certification from the State of New Jersey.
 
Besides tax assessing, Bill is also a diehard passionate Philadelphia Eagles fan and hopes to see his team win a Super Bowl before his time on Earth expires.
 
 
Margaret
Pacanowski, Tax Collector



Margaret began working for the City of Ventnor in July 1999 in the Water and Sewer Department and rose through the ranks to Assistant Tax Collector. She now holds the position of Tax Collector.

Since taking on the official Tax Collector role, Margaret has put much focus on educating her staff in an attempt to make the office a highly efficient "one-stop" customer experience with the understanding that the burden of paying taxes should not be coupled with the inability to understand how the process works.
Margaret encourages the office to offer customer-focused service and support in all programs and assistance available to tax payers. She hopes to continue to be a role model of customer service and takes pride in the hard work, knowledge and dedication it takes to work in the Ventnor Tax Office.

Margaret was born and raised in Ventnor and continues to reside here with her husband and two children. Margaret and her family are active in the community and couldn't imagine living away from their Ventnor beaches!
 
Dave Smith, Public Works Superintendent


 
Dave has worked for the City of Ventnor since 1971. He currently serves as Public Works Superintendent, a position he was appointed to in 1982.
 
Dave is certified as a Public Works Manager and also serves as the City’s Municipal Recycling Coordinator.
 
Dave resides in Linwood with his wife, Cindy, and together they have one daughter. In his downtime, Dave enjoys golfing, horse racing and the Ventnor beaches. 
 
Ernest Gratz, Water and Sewer Superintendent



 
Ernie Gratz is the Water and Sewer Superintendent for Ventnor City. Ernie brings more than 25 years of water and wastewater experience to his position, having worked in the industry since 1992.

Prior to joining the Ventnor City Water and Sewer Department, Ernie held positions with New Jersey American Water, Aqua Water and United Water. He also held the position of Plant Manager for the Atlantic City Municipal Utility Authority, which provides drinking water to the residents of Atlantic City.
 
A resident of Atlantic County for more than 10 years, Ernie and his family reside in Ventnor and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
 
James E. Pacanowski II, Network Administrator


 
A graduate of Syracuse University where he majored in civil and aerospace engineering, Jim was hired by the City of Ventnor in 2003 as Network Administrator.
 
Jim has worked hard through the years keeping up with fast changing world of IT. As a result, he holds a number of certifications. These include:
 
·         CGCIO – Certified Government Chief Information Officer from Rutgers and PTI
·         MCP – Microsoft Certified Professional
·         MOS – Microsoft Office Certified Master Instructor
·         A+ Certified Network Technician
·         CCNA Certificate for Cisco Networks
·         Microsoft Network Administrator Certificate
·         Security + Certificate
 
Jim also serves as President of the Ventnor City Board of Education and is an active member of the Knights of Columbus
 
Jim and Margaret Pacanowski, the Ventor City Tax Collector, were married in 2000. Together, Jim and Margaret have a son and daughter. The Pacanowski family resides in Ventnor.
 
Jimmie Agnesino, Construction Official and Building Sub-Code Official


 
Jimmie Agnesino has been employed by the City of Ventnor for 27 years as the Construction Official and Building Sub-Code Official. He also serves as the Zoning Official and Department Head for the Code Department, which includes rental and sale properties as well as property maintenance. He also is the Land Use Administrator, which approves the use of properties throughout the City. 
 
Jimmie holds a license that allows him to serve as the Construction Official and is also licensed as a multiple dwelling official to conduct inspections that are required by the State within the City of Ventnor. 
 
Jimmie resides in Williamstown, is married and has two adult sons. 
 
Kathleen Robbins, Municipal Court Administrator


 
Kathleen began her career 20 years ago in the Municipal Court of Port Republic as a Deputy Court Administrator. In 2002, she began to work toward her certification from the Supreme Court of New Jersey by attending state mandated Principles of Municipal Court Administration (POMCA) classes for 2 years, passed the written and oral test, and completed a project approved by the certification board. She was promoted to Municipal Court Administrator in July 2003 when she was hired by the City of Ventnor as a Deputy Court Administrator.In 2010 she was promoted to Municipal Court Administrator. Kathleen continues to attend educational classes which are mandated by The Supreme Court of New Jersey.  
 
 
 

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