Thursday, January 19, 2006

Porous Pavement and Infiltration Basins

The flooding is now so extensive water is flowing into the woodlands to the south. You can actually see the currents flowing. We can only expect it will get worse as winter progesses.

Porous Pavement and Infiltration Basins

TC South Brunswick, Inc. proposing 3 warehouses on some 118 acres of land in the aquifer recharge area east of the
NJ Turnpike from the Pigeon Swamp Park and the VanDyke Farm.

To the developer's credit, they are using best practices to control stormwater runoff from their site. Thanks to the new DEP regulations, there is strict control over runoff, so new techniques management are needed. TCSB is working on two ideas.

The first is the most controversial. In their car parking areas, TCSB proposes using porous pavement. Designed to let water filter through, rather than run off, these special paving materials are new to builders and engineers. This leads to definite uncertainty as to how strong they are and how long they will last under traffic. TCSB seems willing to take the risk of this innovation. The Township is more skeptical but we hope something can be worked out. If TCSB's gamble pays off and the paving material proves an excellent solution to decreasing impervious surfaces so more water can be absorbed into the ground where it belongs, all of us will be winners. However, if the paving material does not stand the test of time and traffic, South Brunswick could be left "holding the bag" on essential repairs. It might be a good idea to test out some porous sidewalks in the area first, but either way the concept is worth a second look.

The second technique is the building of infiltration basins and swales instead of more conventional detention or retention basins. These ponds are designed to hold water and, with porous sand bottoms, allow the water to percolate back into the soil. Well designed and well maintained, such basins can substatially reduce stormwater runoff. This is another positive development, provided the warehouses maintain the basins to maximum efficiency. That is always a concern as the best laid plans oft go the way as time passes and people forget the issues surrounding them.

Worrisome is the fact that the builder also must widen Davidson Mill Road in order to complete his construction requirements. This will increase runoff into the already overburdened downstream system in the State Park since that is where that new water will drain. Before any such move is made, a complete study of the impact of this water must be made. More later on this, but the EVA will try to make this a condition of approval.

TCSB's traffic engineer did not yet testify. EVA has taken a strong position on traffic issues in the area and will do so at the next meeting on February 1. All EVA members are encouraged to attend, even if they are only able to stay for part of the meeting.

The pictures with this blog show how the flooding has continued this winter. This last photo is taken from interior woodlands where the water is now flowing freely flooding out more old growth trees. Trust me, it's a real mess out there.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Warehouses Abound in the New Year

Warehouses Abound in the New Year

2006 is bringing both hope and woe to the EVA's goals of rural preservation.

Tonight, the South Brunswick Planning Board will be hearing an application for three more warehouses on Davidson Mill Road. These will take up the remaining farmland east of the NJ Turnpike. While we know the land has been zoned for this kind of development, we must voice a protest in light of the problems this type of building has caused in the past.

First, of course, is the truck traffic warehouses have brought to local roads. Despite repeated promises and claims by developers that warehouse trucks will not use roads through residential areas, those of us who live here know another story. Lost trucks and truckers looking for shortcuts and the "paths of least resistance" drive down Deans-Rhode Hall Road and Davidson Mill Road twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. With the improvements of Route 522 still a "twinkle in the Township's eye" our roads are overburdened instead. What were once quiet country roads have become major traffic thoroughfares.

EVA members have put in a plea for relief, hoping that new signs, traffic calming devices, and an increased police presence might ease some of these concerns. The hope here lies in the fact that Township officials are listening to our complaints and responding.

Township officials are also beginning to respond to our concerns regarding the Green Acres flooding. The new warehouses must raise concern that even more water will be draining into the park. We are hopeful that the Township will take the lead on a thorough study of this problem and find a way to protect the farms and woodlands from further flooding and remediate the current flooding.

Until the major concerns of the EVA are addressed, we would like to see a moritorium on development in the area. If warehouses are to be built, they need to be built with as little impact as possible on the natural and human environment of our rural area.

More hopes rise in our efforts to preserve the VanDyke/Pulda farm. The State of New Jersey, Middlesex County, and South Brunswick Township are joining to work out details to protect the farm from development. Be it for Open Space, Farmland Preservation, or as a perfect addition to the adjacent State Park, this historical gem now has a chance to survive the building boom.

EVA sincerely hopes 2006 will bring good news on all fronts. Thanks to all who are taking the time to help us reach our goals.