Saturday, March 18, 2006

One Month of Peace is Over

One Month of Peace is Over

After almost a month of relief from warehouse development, the South Brunswick Planning Board reversed its decision on the Trammel Crow application and voted to approve their three warehouses east of the Pigeon Swamp State Park.

The reversal was in part based on the fact that the developer agreed to fund an engineering study of the flooding in the area to the tune of $100,000. For the EVA, this is a partial victory still tainted by concern. Trammel Crow did not recalculate its own stormwater impact using the Delmarva model, despite a DEP regulation requiring it. When this was brought to the Planning Board's attention, the Township engineer and board members chose to ignore its significance and simply decided to let the NJDEP and Freehold Soil hash out the discrepencies when Trammel Crow applies for their permits.

Such casual regard for legal requirements is decidedly disturbing. It is the hallmark of warehouse development in the Eastern Village area and has been the cause of much environmental destruction. South Brunswick has been slow to recognize its responsibility to enforce stormwater protection for the sake of ratables. Unfortunately, the amount of tax revenue these warehouses bring to the town may never be able to repay or repair the damage to our lands they cause. Tax revenue cannot replace a seventy year old tree drowned by runoff. Tax revenue cannot cure the noise, dust and disturbance of tractor trailers rumbling past homes rattling windows and waking residents from their sleep. Tax revenue cannot cleanse the air or water of the Pigeon Swamp from the contamination of diesel particulate pouring from truck exhaust. And, above all tax revenue cannot clean our aquifer if uncontrolled stormwater has polluted it.

The Pigeon Swamp is a Category 1 water resource, the most protected and sensitive classification in the State. Abusing it with carelessly designed development and the consequences of rampant truck traffic is unforgiveable. EVA will continue to battle to protect this vital and beautiful area.

Our members have been appointed to a Township task force to study and consider solutions to some of these concerns. The Trammel Crow money may be used to fund an environmental engineering study. These are all positive outcomes of our efforts.

But until South Brunswick boards and officials recognize that the pursuit of ratables has a price we may not be able to afford to pay, the EVA will not stand silent.


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