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Christmas Comes Early for Developers

Date : Mon, 14 Dec 2009 12:19:11 -0500

For Immediate Release
December 14, 2009 Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Christmas Comes Early for Developers Senator Sarlo is the Builders' Santa Claus

While most people are preparing for the holiday season, the builders are trying to undermine cleanup of contaminated sites and protection of our water supply. Two of the three bills up today have been on the developer's and builder's wish list for the last couple of years and are part of the ongoing assault on environmental protections that has been happening in the New Jersey Legislature.

Of the 14 so-called builder's bills, eight have become law and two more are up today in front of the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

"This is one of the biggest Christmas gifts ever for developers at the expense of clean water, good planning, and the clean up of toxic sites," said Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club Director.

The first two bills are up at 1 p.m. in front of the Senate Economic Growth Committee. The third is up at 1 p.m. in front of the Senate Environment Committee.

S3137 Permit Extension This bill, up in front of the Economic Growth Committee, would extend the infamous Permit Extension Act by another 2.5 years, pushing the deadline back from July 1 ,2010 to Dec. 31 2012. This bill automatically extends all permit approvals at the state or county level across the board for 2.5 years without regard to environmental impacts or changes in rules or zoning.

This bill will violate the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws. It would also violate the memorandums of agreement between the EPA and the state of New Jersey. The Permit Extension Act was so bad that even the Bush Administration opposed it because it violated federal law and undermined the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental laws. This new version of the Permit Extension Act removes some of the safeguards that were added in the first version.

S2985 - Extends Implementation of Water Quality Management Plans This bill extends for two years the DEP implementation of the Water Quality Management Planning Rules. This bill, also up in front of the Economic Growth Committee, goes on to prevent the implementation of critical water rules that are more than 13 years in the making.

These rules would require that proper environmental analysis and planning be done prior to granting a sewer extension. These rules were considered a major step forward in the protection of New Jersey's water supply. These rules would also keep sewers out of environmentally sensitive areas and make sure there is enough water for the developments to go forward. The Senate Legislative Oversight Committee held hearings on these rules and there were no findings that they violated any state laws or were considered intrusive in their implementation.

This bill would prevent implementation of these rules until April 7, 2011. This law will mean more sprawl and water pollution and present a threat to the state's drinking water supply. The bill would set up an oversight committee that would be used to weaken or pull back the current rules. Many of the current sewer service areas go back to the 1960 where there was no environmental analysis done and in some cases the sewer plants were not even built.

S3004 - Public Notification Regarding Contaminated Sites This bill would limit public notice on contaminated sites to only those within 200 feet of the contaminated portion of the property. This would undermine public notice when it comes to contaminated and toxic sites in the neighborhood and would restrict the public right to know and the public's right to do anything about it.

Many contaminated sites are hundreds of acres. By limiting notice to 200 feet from the known contamination, people in the adjoining properties may not even get notice. If someone wants to build a deck on their property, all those within 200 feet of the property line would get notice. This means that in New Jersey, there is better notification and public for someone adding a deck to their house than for contaminated sites.

"It seems that the Legislature is more concerned about taking care of special interests this Christmas than protecting the public," Tittel said.

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609.656.7612

(f) 609.656.7618

<http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org

Received on 2009-12-14 09:19:11

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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