Reporting Jenn Bernstein
KINGWOOD TOWNSHIP, NJ - For 26 years, Greg Crance has put tens of thousands of people on a six mile stretch of this waterway every season.
Three weeks ago, Crance said he was blind-sided when Philadelphia’s Army Corps of Engineers handed him a cease-and-desist letter, which says “work of this nature, when conducted without a Department of the Army permit, is a violation of Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and Section 301 of the Clean Water Act.”
The Corps was referring to signs, wooden stairways, the placement of sand bags, and Crance’s famous hot dog stand, which is on an anchored boat in the middle of the river.
“My initial reaction was shock that I’m having a federal investigation done on me for something we’ve done for 26 years,” said Crance.
Ed Voigt, the spokesman for the Philadelphia Army Corps of Engineers, says the cease and desist letter sounds harsh, but all Crance has to do is simply apply for the proper permits. When asked why the Army Corps was pursuing the business after all of this time, Voigt said, “New Jersey State Parks brought it to our attention. We have to take it on a case-by-case basis, especially if another state agency brings it to our attention. Of course we are going to take a look if we can,” said Voigt.
“We’re not shutting him down. If he puts in a permit application he can continue to operate. He just can’t do additional work that would require a permit.”
Crance says he’s fully licensed and fully permitted, and that certain requests overreach the Corps jurisdiction.
“It would take years to get the things that they’re looking for to even apply for the permits, so there’s no way I can meet their deadline,” said Crance.
The letter states Crance has twenty days to either remove the structures, or apply for proper permits. That would be this Friday. Crance thinks his business is being targeted.
“There’s some other agenda or some other issue going on here.” The mayor of Kingwood Township, Elaine Niemann, is standing by Crance.
“My belief is that the Army Corps is trying to establish a permitting requirement that is destined for failure, I’m not sure why,” said Niemann.
The Corps says it’s not targeting his business.
“When he applies for that permit, we want to work with him and get everything addressed as soon as we can,” said Voigt. “We’re not looking for this process to take any longer than it has to, but we just have to make sure we do it right.”
Crance says he has raised his signs, taken out an anchor, and moved picnic tables to the shore, but he’s not sure what direction he’ll go with the permits. The Army Corps did confirm they are just starting to look at one of his tubing competitors.