2,450 homes could occupy Heritage tract in Manchester

Ben Ruset

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http://www.app.com/app2001/story/0,21133,802354,00.html

Some of you might remember the article I wrote about exploring this mining complex. If not, check it out.
http://www.njpinebarrens.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=27&page=1

I am 100% opposed to any building on this land, for what it's worth.

2,450 homes could occupy Heritage tract in Manchester

Published in the Asbury Park Press 9/05/03
By KIRK MOORE
STAFF WRITER
MANCHESTER -- Nearly two decades of legal wrangling about the future of the 7,000-acre Heritage Minerals site could conclude with a settlement proposed by state environmental officials allowing H. Hovnanian Industries to build 2,450 homes on land zoned for 800 units.

State environmental Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell yesterday touted the settlement as a "smart growth" solution, one that would protect 6,300 acres on the edge of the Pinelands and endangered wildlife, while clustering new homes on 1,000 acres of an old sand mine off Route 70, near Route 37 and Colonial Drive.

"Given the risks of litigation . . . we think it's the best choice for the environment and the community," Campbell said.

The agreement limits development potential on the land, while 6,300 acres of forest "will either be deed-restricted or transferred to state ownership" -- probably the latter, Campbell said.

He said settling the case would eliminate the danger that Hovnanian could win a court order allowing even more homes to be built. But some environmental advocates were skeptical, saying that state Pinelands and Coastal Area Facility Review Act regulations that apply to the site have been thoroughly tested in the courts.

"I don't think this had anything to do with the danger of losing the lawsuit," said Carleton Montgomery of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. "I think they believed that they pulled Hovnanian down as low as he would go."

If the deal holds up, it would end a legal and regulatory tangle that dates to the mid-1980s. That's when prominent developer Hirair Hovnanian acquired the property and proposed building up to 15,000 homes. But he was stymied by state environmental regulators, and finally wound up suing in state and federal courts.

Under the settlement's terms, Hovnanian's company would apply some state Pinelands design standards, such as wetlands buffers, and a bridge and culverts, so that threatened northern pine snakes could safely crawl under the access road during their travels between wooded areas.

Hovnanian Vice President Edele Hovnanian was out of the office and could not be reached for comment late yesterday, according to workers at the company's main office in Tinton Falls.

Manchester Mayor Michael Fressola, a longtime critic of the state Department of Environmental Protection's efforts to settle the dispute, said he will meet soon with other municipal officials to discuss their next course of action. Acting partly to help their neighbors, officials in adjacent Berkeley recently moved to block any new road from their municipality into the Heritage tract.

"I'm very disappointed at (the state officials') action but we still have a number of options," Fressola said, after returning from a meeting in Trenton where he was told of the settlement proposal.

"We still have some control over what happens there," Fressola said. Hovnanian "will still need all their permits, and CAFRA approval. It's not like they can start putting sticks in the ground tomorrow."

"Obviously, there are many other approvals they'll have to get locally," Campbell said. "There will be additional regulatory reviews as the process goes forward," including a public comment period, he added.


Could go back to court
Campbell acknowledged the whole case might end up back in court if the deal goes sour: "There is a continuing risk to both parties that they might not get what they want."
"I thought they had a strong case, and didn't need to settle," said Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club, which has been watching the prospect of a settlement closely.

"Does the 6,000 acres (of forest) balance out the 2,400 units?" Tittel asked. "That's a tremendous impact on air and water quality. Getting the land is good . . . but it's way too many units. Twenty-four hundred units would make it the biggest development in New Jersey, in an area that's had too much development already."

The state Pinelands Commission "is on board with the substance of the agreement," said Francis Rapa, a spokesman for the regional land-use and environment board. There will be a public hearing before the DEP and the commission formally accept the deal, he said.

"The clustering of development on the mined area and the dedication of 6,300 acres are terrific things," said Montgomery of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. "But we think the proposal allows too many units. In that sense, we're in agreement with the mayor and council."

Manchester rezoned the area in the early 1990s to limit the tract to 800 homes, and under Pinelands standards, perhaps 1,300 at most could have been built, Montgomery said.

However, the snake protections proposed by Hovnanian look as if they could work, based on a review for the alliance by Rutgers University biologist Joanna Burger, Montgomery said.

"The culverts (planned for the access road) are so large, and there's so many of them, that it will be OK," Montgomery said. "And they'd be surrounded by this wide open land."
 

njvike

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Ben,

I also oppose any building in this area as this is becoming over developed as it is. The developing in this state has to be controlled.

I noticed that Barnegat and Tuckerton are also growing too fast. Why the need for all these new homes? Is the state expanding? Where are the people coming from?

BTW, when I met you guys on previous trips, I normally take RT 70 West from Manchester Twsp. I've seen a sign that leads to a large building with Hertiage on it. Is this the place?
 

Ben Ruset

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There's a big sign that says "HERITAGE MINERALS" not too far out from Lakehurst, going West.

Where are all the people coming from? New York, North Jersey, etc. They want to get away from the crowds. What they don't realize is that 10 years from now it's going to be worse.
 

TaiChiFire

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What a shame; the same thing is happening in California, where everyone clusters along the fragile coast. It may not look fragile, but it is a highly impacted ecosystem which was changed back to native plants about 5 years ago. Our buddy, Clint Eastwood, is not the environmentalist he professes to be, and other celebrities regulary disregard CA's Coastal Commission regulations (e.g., Malibu's "private" beaches.) And they also disregard myriad signs asking that NO flowers or natural treasures like shells, rocks and tidepool inhabitants, NOT be taken. Nuts. I'm so fed up with short-sighted, greedy people, that's why I'm in Tahoe, and who knows where next? Tai Chi Fire and a passionate, righteous indignation.
 
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bach2yoga

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One thing that was mentioned at the GIS workshop the other day is that NJ's population would actually be DECREASING if it weren't for the people moving into the state, whether legally or illegally, or as citizens or immigrants etc---our increase in population in NJ is NOT due to growth of population in people already residing here.
Renee
 

JIMBO

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The people in Manchester voted to acquire the tract if possible.

Published in the Asbury Park Press 11/05/03
By KIRK MOORE
STAFF WRITER
Voters in Jackson narrowly turned down a proposal to change the township form of government, as Manchester voters approved a ballot question to give their blessing for an ambitious land-acquisition proposal.

Meanwhile, voters in six other Ocean County towns approved the creation of modest pension funds for volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service workers.

The Jackson government change proposal went down by a vote of 4,639 to 4,016. The ballot question proposed replacing the committee with a mayor-council form of government.

That change would have shifted municipal elections to nonpartisan contests held in May, when voters would elect a mayor and nine council members -- six from local wards dividing the township and three at-large council members elected by a township-wide vote.

Manchester voters said yes by 6,528 to 3,383 on a nonbinding ballot question on whether the Township Council should try to buy all or part of the Heritage Minerals property off Route 70. That plan, favored by Mayor Michael Fressola, would be aimed at heading off -- or at least reducing -- the construction of up to 2,450 new homes there.

A proposed legal settlement between state environmental officials and developers H. Hovnanian Industries would end Hovnanian's federal lawsuit and allow the company to again seek building approvals. Fressola contends so many new houses would strain municipal services, water supply and property taxes.

A 'yes' vote on the ballot question would support dedicating up to 2.5 cents for every $100 of assessed valuation from local property taxes for the fund. Under that formula, the owner of real estate valued at $100,000 would expect to pay up to $25 a year toward the land purchase.
 

TaiChiFire

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Population changes

I believe the population increase situation is the same in most states. People rarely remain in the same places they were born these days. I believe the correct stat is that people move 7 times in their lifetimes, but I could be off. The people residing in the state could only increase the population themselves by having lots of children, right? How else could that happen? Seems to be a non sequitor. However, we seem to all love and protect nature here, and that's what matters. Passing Clouds Ku - unconscious conscience--go with the flow (the Huna Way)
 
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bach2yoga

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Population changes

TaiChiFire said:
I believe the population increase situation is the same in most states. People rarely remain in the same places they were born these days. I believe the correct stat is that people move 7 times in their lifetimes, but I could be off. The people residing in the state could only increase the population themselves by having lots of children, right? How else could that happen? Seems to be a non sequitor. However, we seem to all love and protect nature here, and that's what matters. Passing Clouds Ku - unconscious conscience--go with the flow (the Huna Way)
Yes and no...some states are more bothered by influx, and you probably can relating, living in CA.
NJ has an extremely high rate of immigrants, much higher than most states--because virtually all of our labor down here where I live is immigrants, many legal, many more not, and additionally NJ along with PA and VA is picking up alot of population outgrowth from Washington DC.
Additionally, Cumberland County in particular is wellknown in Puerto Rico and Jamaica and areas of Mexico as "the place to go" -- many come here, live 8 or 10 in a one bedroom apartment, work UTT, collect welfare, and send the monies home. Unfortunately it has become a real problem here and the cause of a lot of animosity toward immigrants as well. We want our produce cheap, we want our labor cheap, we don't want to pay a paltry $8 or $9 per hour, we don't want to pay the workers comp on them, and then we get upset that immigrants *will* come here and work for cheap, and live off of government subsidies.
Renee
 

TaiChiFire

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Renee - You summed that up well. Oregon, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona have the same issues. Those fleeing D.C. don't surprise me--high cost for "living" in urban decay, high crime, terrible transportation issues, politics, politics, politics, as Mel Brooks says. I could never live there, even though I have friends who love it. The world certainly is more complex and viewing everyone's (including your) photos and thoughtful comments helps, even if I can't physically take a walk in your restful, beautiful and amazing woods, kayak your creeks, or breathe in your cedar bog majesty....Tree hugger (Tai Chi Fire)

Be like the bird that, halting awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings Victor Hugo[/quote]