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Seaside Heights to Adopt ‘No Wake Zone’ Law for Vehicles

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A vehicle speeds down a flooded street in a barrier island community. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A vehicle speeds down a flooded street in a barrier island community. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Seaside Heights is expected to join a small number of Jersey Shore towns that will adopt a “no wake” ordinance – on land.

The phrase “no wake” is well-known to boaters, who are expected to slow to idle speed in designated areas marked by buoys emblazoned with the term. Wakes create problem on land too, Mayor Anthony Vaz said at a borough council meeting Wednesday, and the town plans on crafting an ordinance and telling police to strictly enforce it.

“Every time we have that flash flooding it happens,” Vaz said, before explaining how residents’ properties become damaged when vehicles send waves from the street onto private lots. “Once you start giving out a few tickets, people will get the message.”

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Land-based “no wake” ordinances are somewhat common in Florida, where public works officials or police officers set up warning signs in flooded areas after torrential rains or particularly high tides. In Virginia, the state legislature enacted a law expressly enabling municipalities to create no wake zones. The practice is less common in New Jersey, but not unheard of. Last year, Ship Bottom, on Long Beach Island, adopted the ordinance.

The Ship Bottom ordinance prohibits drivers from creating a wake that “travels beyond a street edge or curb line.”

Seaside Heights Borough Administrator Anthony Vaz said the language of the ordinance is still being crafted and will likely be introduced and adopted by summer. The ordinance could apply to the entire town or specific areas.

Anthony Vaz, the mayor, said police will strictly enforce the ordinance this year.

“If you’re going to drive your car down that street, it’s simple, you’re going to ruin your own car,” he said, “but don’t crucify the people who own property nearby.”

The announcement drew a few supportive cheers from residents at the meeting.

Anthony Vaz said Bay Boulevard and the Boulevard business districts are the most-affected streets in town. Borough officials have tried to calm traffic on flooded roadways in the past, employing numerous tactics, but some motorists – often those in four wheel drive vehicles and trucks – drive through anyway.

“We try our best – we put out deuce-and-a-halfs, we post policemen, but as soon as they go away people do whatever they want,” he said, pledging things will soon be different.

“We’re going to have signs put up and a fine will be given,” said the mayor.