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Pinelands Master Plan Changes Coming

Date : Tue, 7 Aug 2012 14:29:51 -0400

For Immediate Release
August 2, 2012 Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

Pinelands Master Plan Changes Coming

The Pinelands Commission will be hosting 4 public hearings on proposed changes to the region's Compressive Management Plan (CMP) over the next two months.Attending those meetings is critical as the region's protections are under attack as never beforeunder the Christie administration.The Pinelands was named the first National Reserve in the country, is designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, and is an ecologically important region for both habitat and water supply.Now the Pinelands is being targeted for inappropriate development and bad projects.Governor Christie is calling for more sewers and growth areas that could jeopardize some of the most environmentally sensitive resources of the region.The changes and pro-developer policies would be implemented through an updated CMP.

"For 33 years the Pinelands has been the most successful regional planning and natural resource protection model in the country and now the Christie administration is trying to undo it.The region's Master Plan dictates where growth can occur in the region and the public needs to come to these hearings to urge the Commission not to enact changes that will force growth and growth-inducing infrastructure in environmentally sensitive areas of the Pines," *said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club*. The Governor's State Strategic Plan requires that the Commission's CMP meet the economic goals laid out in the Strategic Plan, which promotes sprawl and overdevelopment in the Pinelands regions.The Strategic Plan changes existing Pinelands villages into growth areas, then directs DEP to provide growth areas with sewers and allow higher density development.This could requirenew wastewater community treatment facilities or package plants. The Strategic Plan and potential changes to the CMP would require places in the middle of the Pinelands Preservation Area like Buena, Chatsworth, and Tabernacle to not only grow, but install urbanizing infrastructure.Places like Stafford Township will have more sewers in environmentally sensitive areas and will be slated for more development.

"The Governor is using the Strategic State Plan as a way to undermine and weaken protections in the Pinelands CMP.This is a very cynical move to get rid of protections in one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel. In May the DEP and Pinelands Commission staff signed a Memorandum of Understanding placing villages, towns, and growth areas designated by the Pinelands Commission in sewer service areas, allowing for more dense development.Changes to the CMP could expand areas defined as villages, towns, and growth areas, allowing for more sewers in the region. Opening the Pinelands up to sewers will result in more non-point pollution entering the Barnegat Bay and other estuaries and will make it virtually impossible for the DEP to implement a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Barnegat Bay.A TMDL is a tool under the Clean Water Act to reduce pollution entering a waterbody and outlines steps to achieve those reductions.Sewers will increase pollution from a number of new sources undermining the ability to develop and implement a TMDL for the Bay. Developing more densely and in new portions of the Pinelands will require additional pumping that could impact the aquifer and water table.Decreased ground water levels would impact the wetlands that provide critical habitat throughout the region. The amount of water withdrawals from the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer could double to serve population increases in Ocean County alone, having devastating impacts on the Bay.We are still waiting for the study on the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer that was supposed to be completed in 2005.

"When you are in South Jersey, the Pinelands is where the sprawl ends.The Pinelands are a vast green oasis in the middle of all the New Jersey sprawl.And now the Governor wants to sprawl that over too, threatening one of the most unique ecosystems in the world," said Jeff Tittel. The Commission will hold 4 public hearings on the amending the Comprehensive Management Plan:

- Friday, August 10th, at 11 a.m., in the Richard J. Sullivan Center (RJS) on 15 Springfield Road in Pemberton, NJ;

- Wednesday, August 22nd, at 7 p.m. in the Hamilton Township Town Hall on 6101 Thirteenth Street in Mays Landing, NJ;

- Friday, September 14th, at 11 a.m., in the RJS Center; and

- Monday, September 24th, at 7 p.m. in the RJS Center.

Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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