A new fight over how to save the Pinelands

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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You can get a helicopter ride to all the spungs :)

Guy
 

Spung-Man

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Jan 5, 2009
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Richland, NJ
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A Revisit to Richland Village

“Buena Vista Township Mayor Chuck Chiarello said Ashmun was fair and thoughtful when he appeared before the commission over projects such as the redevelopment of the railroad town Richland Village.”

http://forums.njpinebarrens.com/showthread.php?t=7161


I pause when one of the most vocal critics of Pinelands rules is charitable in his praise of the Commission. With changes at the State level, it will be interesting to see what direction the new administration takes towards Pinelands stewardship. Will a fiscally conservative administration truncate current efforts to convert Pinelands Villages into sewered development zones? The main beef is that Richland Village currently lacks both cultural and environmental surveys, which should have been demanded of Township officials before any work began. Such inventories are invaluable tools that are vital to help preserve, protect, and enhance valued natural and cultural resources that make Pinelands Villages clean, safe, and livable places.

At the Pinelands 2006 Richland redevelopment hearing, Commissioner Lee recommended a cultural resource survey be completed – as required under Comprehensive Management Plan rules. Mr. Liggett, Director of Land Use, indicated that Richland had nothing of historical significance and Mr. Lee’s suggestion was dismissed. I have since obtained a NJDEP Certification of Eligibility for the J.H. Smith house (a.k.a. Richland Hotel, Figure 1), demonstrating that Richland contains valued historical elements. The Richland Hotel, as the document states, “is eligible for listing in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historical Places under National Register criterion A, for its association with the emergence of Richland as a settlement along the West Jersey and Atlantic Railroad in the early 1880s.”



Figure 1 Old sketch of Richland Village at southeast corner of Main Avenue and US Route 40. (A) the Jonathan Harris Smith house, Richland’s first residence and is considered eligible for listing in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places under National Register criterion. (B) Johnny Smith’s seed store, the first business in town. Unfortunately the structure was recently torn down. (C) Smith’s steam-powered sawmill, which was dismantled from the Cannon Range field (Milmay) and rebuilt in anticipation of the West Jersey and Atlantic Railroad. Its footprint is now covered by a caboose display within the newly constructed (without Pinelands permits) “Sawmill Park.” Sketch from Jones (c.1888: 9, Richland New Jersey: 20,000 Acres of Farming Land).



I also submitted at the Richland hearing documentation questioning Buena Vista Township’s delineation of wetlands present at Block 4601, Lot 12. This lot was by far the largest property purchased by the municipality, and was deemed in need of redevelopment “due to existing conditions where lands have remained vacant and underutilized for a period of ten or more years cannot likely be developed through the instrumentality of solely private capital” (BVT Resolution No. 118-2005). By that criteria most of the Pinelands could be considered in need of redevelopment! Historical records indicated the presence of a wetland-type known in local vernacular as a “cripple,” which rendered the property unsuitable for development (Figures 2 & 3). Cripples are ancient intermittent stream corridors that are similar to protected intermittent pools (i.e., spungs) but differ in that they are open-ended and not enclosed entities (Demitroff, 2007: Pine Barrens Wetlands: Geographical Reflections of South Jersey’s Periglacial Legacy). The Pinelands Commission recently offered to reimburse $100,000 of seed costs to begin the planning process to build a package sewer plant upon this site.



Figure 2 Series of maps showing wetlands at Richland Village’s proposed package wastewater site, Block 4601, Lot 12. The township also proposed senior-citizen housing upon this site. (A) & (B) 1931 aerial photomosaics showing an intermittent stream corridor traversing Block 4601, lot 12 even during the Dust Bowl drought of record (NJDEP, 1931: Sheet 222). (C) USDA Soils Survey map showing intermittent stream present at Block 4601, lot 12 (Johnson, 1978: Sheet 22). (D) Environmental Resources Inventory Map showing an intermittent stream (blue arrow) traversing the site (A. M. Churchill Associates, c.2000: prepared in connection with the Buena Vista Environmental Commission through the aid of a grant from the N.J.D.E.P. Office of Environmental Services). (E) Wetlands (or lack thereof) as identified within Richland Village: Growing Smart into the 21st Century (Karabashian Eddington Planning Group, 2006: exhibit B-2). (F) Wetland soils still cross the site according to a current Atlantic County soils map (NRCS, accessed 2008).





Figure 3 In the past, cripple water-fill was commonplace during the winter and spring when seasonal groundwater was highest (A & B). Now it is only during the wettest years that this cripple’s trace can be followed all the way back to my father’s old feed mill (right background of A). The regional water table has been dropping over the last century due to groundwater over-withdrawal and urbanization (French & Demitroff, 2001: Cold-climate origin of the enclosed depressions and wetlands ['spungs'] of the Pine Barrens, southern New Jersey, USA). For orientation a blue arrow denotes the position of a white chicken coop shown on both the photograph (A) and map (C). Pleistocene-aged windblown cover-sand blocked sections of the cripple, but this thin sand veneer is so loosely packed that groundwater easily passes through the ancient channel and empties into the South River. Building upon this location will disrupt the even flow of this natural drainageway and cause “flashiness” to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers buffer to the South River that abuts this property (Dow, 2007: Assessing regional land-use/cover influences on New Jersey Pinelands streamflow through hydrograph analysis).

From its founding in 1880, Richland has alway been promoted as an agrarian community, and is still boasts a vibrant farm economy. During May 2004 the town was temporarily renamed “Mojito” after Bacardi’s Cuban rum drink, and is the main site of the company’s mint supply. The famed Mojito field borders the proposed sewer property (D), and its coveted mint is a Richland heirloom variety, see http://www.buenavistatownship.org/mojito.htm. Sewer leakage effects upon groundwater quality could have a major impact to mint production (Reynolds & Barrett, 2003: A review of the effects of sewer leakage on groundwater quality; also see Goldenberg et al., 1996: The "short cut" approach for the reality of enhanced groundwater contamination). Winds reactivate cover-sand movement when vegetation is sparse (D), as was commonplace during the cold, dry, and windy Ice Age when the cripple became sand-choked (B).


Cultural and environmental rules and regulations continue to be ignored by the Pinelands Commission and by other government agencies, even though State and Federal funds are spent, sources that customarily require cultural and environmental safeguards like Section 106 regulations. Richland Village, the Commission’s juggernaut of Smart Growth within the Pine Barrens, deserves careful public scrutiny since other municipalities will follow its precedent. Spending millions of redevelopment dollars on sidewalks, sewers, and streetlights is not in the best short- or long-term interest of Pinelands residents, or a sensible use of taxpayers’ treasure. I suggest that Pinelands Villages should be conserved for traditional or customary local uses as prescribed within the comprehensive management plan, and that they do not become politicians’ bounty for outside developers when the economy recovers.

Spung-Man
 

Kevinhooa

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Mar 12, 2008
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Hammonton, NJ.
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This is crazy. This state is going to be a whole different place in 30 years. I think our population needs to slow (a lot!) down or things are going to bell-curve in a very bad direction. The company I work for has me working on stuff in the Virginia Beach area and judging by the satellite photos there are houses and condos jammed into every space imaginable down there. I have a bad feeling that is going to happen up here (even more than it has already.) In some areas there, it's hard to find a tree that doesn't look like it was planted more than 10 years ago. Just horrible.
 

Spung-Man

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Jan 5, 2009
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Richland, NJ
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Referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee

Hmm,

I wonder what this is all about?

Spung-Man

New Jersey State Legislature
2010-2011

A501 Prohibits Pinelands Commission from altering pinelands management area boundaries.
Environment and Solid Waste

Last Session Bill Number: A3781
Primary Sponsors
Polistina, Vincent J.
Amodeo, John F.

1/12/2010 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/wmobile/BillViewwml.asp?varBillNumbr=A501
 

46er

Piney
Mar 24, 2004
8,464
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Coastal NJ
Maybe an attempt at a safeguard before the new commissioners are legal. Both sponsors are Republicans.
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
912
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Richland, NJ
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T&E Species Habitat Should not be Destroyed with Public Funds!

you must really be a thorn in their side
It was not my intent to chide the Pinelands Commission, an organization that has until now had an admirable record of resource protection for which they should be given accolades. The problem is that I don’t like their recent tack away from environmental rules. The Commission instead seems to veer towards CMP exceptions that benefit development concerns. Too many decisions are made behind closed doors, without public knowledge or input. My material is presented to inform, so we can have open debate over the merits of particular local land-use decisions. After all, the Pinelands staff-members are civil servants who work for us, the citizenry, through rules that are established for the good of the community. Figure 4 is addenda to the previous post:


http://forums.njpinebarrens.com/f18/new-fight-over-how-save-pinelands-6033/index2.html#post75038


t&e sightings.jpg


Figure 4 Excerpts from the Buena Vista Township Environmental Resources Inventory Map prepared by the Township’s former engineer, A.M. Churchill Associates, c.2000. (A) The horizontal red arrow locates land deemed in need of redevelopment, a designation considered by the Township as “consistent with Smart Growth planning principals per the Pinelands Zone created” (BVT Resolution No. 14-05). It is the same parcel that is shown in Figures 2&3 in the above link. (B) The map legend indicates that threatened and endangered species sightings were documented upon the parcel in question.