This N.J. Town Erected Barriers to Hold Back the Sea. A Public Fight Erupted.

The fray between North Wildwood, N.J., and state regulators over how to combat erosion offers a glimpse into the sort of conflicts likely to unfold more often in the age of climate change.

NORTH WILDWOOD, N.J. — From atop the local lifeguard headquarters, Mayor Patrick Rosenello looks out over the shrinking shoreline of his hometown.

To the north, past the kaleidoscope of umbrellas that dot the beach, he can see the massive bulkheads the city has installed to hold back the encroaching sea — the same ones at the heart of an ongoing fight with the state, which has sued North Wildwood and fined it more than $8.5 million for that and other work it says was unauthorized, misguided and destructive.

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