Building in the Pine Barrens

PBJ1971

Scout
Oct 19, 2004
44
0
6
47
Belleplain, NJ
Found this article...

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/atlantic/032005PINELANDSEHT_M19.cfm

March 20, 2005

Pinelands Commission may alter building rules Potential habitat for endangered species could be set aside

By JARRETT RENSHAW Staff Writer, (609) 978-2015

The Pinelands Commission is considering preserving any land where it believes threatened and endangered species could live, according to officials with the regulatory agency.

The land would be protected even if no sign of the threatened or endangered species existed, according to Pinelands Commission officials. The possible change in policy is just being discussed at this point, they said.

Such a shift in policy could lead to a significant reduction in the number of buildable lots in the Pinelands regional growth areas, such as Egg Harbor and Hamilton townships.

Officials say the change would have less effect in other growth areas such as Stafford and Barnegat townships, where much of the growth area is already under development or planned for development.

However, officials noted that the proposal could open development in different areas as well.

The potential shift in policy would be part of the Pinelands Commission's larger goal of reassessing land management in the region, where officials say they will use more than 20 years of data to examine current policies.

The new focus on what species could live in an area would be a significant break from the current Pinelands Commission's regulatory process. Historically, a developer's ability to build is determined upon the types of species living in a given area.

Pinelands Commission Executive Director John Stokes said the agency wants to take a step back and review its management policies, along with its comprehensive master plan, which is the fundamental blueprint for the region.

"We have a lot of information that we have gathered over the past 25 years, and I think it is about time we take inventory of the region's resources and evaluate our management areas," Stokes said in a phone interview week.

Thus far, the Pinelands Commission has attempted this policy shift in much smaller areas in Toms River and Ocean and Lacey townships.

In each of those areas, the Pinelands Commission review led to a change in the Pinelands master plan and reduced the number of buildable lots substantially.

The reassessment could be good news to Egg Harbor Township residents critical of a long-standing Pinelands growth plan that has caused their township to explode by 4,959 homes since 1996.

The commission's current plan funnels construction into the regional growth region, conserving areas on other parts of the region.

"There are areas in Egg Harbor Township that are undeveloped, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that some building would be restricted there," Stokes said.

"I just can't rule that out," he said.

The Pinelands Commission also plans to increase the number of plants it will protect under its management plan.

The Commission now recognizes 54 plant species as threatened or endangered.

And soon the agency will adopt the state's list of 339 threatened or endangered plant species, which officials say will add 38 plants found in the Pinelands.

The Commission now recognizes 44 animals as threatened or endangered.

Stokes said the Pinelands Commission is looking into adopting a state Department of Environmental Protection method called landscape maps.

These maps are specific to each species of plant and animal and illustrate where the environment suits their survival, even in the absence of field studies that indicate the species is present.

"A landscape map shows the potential habitat - not what is there, but what might be there," Stokes said.

And those areas could be exposed to the same protection afforded to areas where the species live, Pinelands Commission officials say.

But developers say any attempt to limit development in growth areas established by the Commission could wind up in court. It also could anger those who gave up building rights in other areas of the Pinelands, adding to the potential for lawsuits.
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I am scared...I live in an area that must have ALL building (construction, demolition, etc.) approved by the Pinelands Commission. We are seriously planning on building on our property that is in dire need of improvement, but not if I have to worry about a 'potential habitat' for the Pine Barrens Tree Frog, the Barred Owl or the Southern Yellow Orchid which are all considered endangered species by the state. It would frankly give me no choice but to sell the two acres we own in a small town where my husband's family has resided since the early 1800's...I may lose my 'potential habitat' to one of nature's creatures. :confused:

Please, don't mistake my opinion as an 'evil builder' or something like that. I have to provide a home for my family too and can't see dragging my kids into either a crime infested area or somewhere we can't afford. I want to keep our roots here where they have been for over 200 years...
 

swwit

Explorer
Apr 14, 2005
168
1
18
Well, the reason that you are able to maintain your acreage is because the Pinelands Commission does not let the builders purchase portions of land from people such as yourself resulting in overcrowding. You will be able to make changes on your property as long as it has no endangered or threatened wildlife on it. They will most likely survey it. Maybe you don't realize it but species such as the pine barrens treefrog is a sight to see in the wild. It's a frog that only lives in a few states because of it's habitat requirements to survive. You had mentioned not wanting to move to a crime infested area. Well then you need to try and work things out as best as you can. I for one would not leave because of some minor wildlife issues. After all, would you rather hear those treefrogs at night or gunshots? I personally feel your pretty lucky as you are. Good luck.

Steve
 

PBJ1971

Scout
Oct 19, 2004
44
0
6
47
Belleplain, NJ
swwit said:
Well, the reason that you are able to maintain your acreage is because the Pinelands Commission does not let the builders purchase portions of land from people such as yourself resulting in overcrowding. You will be able to make changes on your property as long as it has no endangered or threatened wildlife on it. They will most likely survey it. Maybe you don't realize it but species such as the pine barrens treefrog is a sight to see in the wild. It's a frog that only lives in a few states because of it's habitat requirements to survive. You had mentioned not wanting to move to a crime infested area. Well then you need to try and work things out as best as you can. I for one would not leave because of some minor wildlife issues. After all, would you rather hear those treefrogs at night or gunshots? I personally feel your pretty lucky as you are. Good luck.

Steve
Thank you for responding to my post. My concern is that I may not be able to improve or build on my property because one of the endangered species 'might' be able to live in my yard (assumable habitation). They aren't going to just survey the land; I've been told that any and all improvements or additions must have the approval of the Pinelands Commission to, most of all, make sure there is no historical value to my home. this part I find funny because my house was built in the early 1950's as a two car cinder block garage for a man from New York. He then sold the property to a couple who was waiting to have a house built elsewhere, so they added on the bedroom and bathroom, long with renovating the two garages to be the living room and kitchen. About 10-15 years ago, my mother in law had someone add on a porch, which I've had to convert to two bedrooms for my kids. With needing to renovate what we do have and add on for another addition to the family soon, I find myself wondering what historical value they think they are going to find here. Then they get to wade through my two acres and look for the Pine Barrens Tree frog and any other creatures that live (or might live) on the property.

I bet that the tree frog is a sight to behold but honestly, it's more the ruling/law of "if we think a creature or plant can live there, you can't build" that scares me. The only way I can work things out is to improve on what little we have, which brings us full circle again. I am proud to still own property and have roots in the same small town that my husband's family was part of founding, but not if this headache is going to continue. It would be nearly impossible to stay in the township we are in due to high real estate costs. A "starter home" begins at $180,000...and that's even a handyman special. when it comes to areas we can afford, it would be some of the bigger towns (which I won't name, it wouldn't be fair) where the safety of my family and children would be of higher concern than here.

I would much rather hear the frog than the gunshots, but not at the expense of having to reside in unimprovable housing.
 

swwit

Explorer
Apr 14, 2005
168
1
18
I understand completely. Hopefully there will be a fair and just solution. Maybe your worrying for nothing and things will work out just fine. I wish you luck. Keep us updated on the situation if you don't mind. good luck.

Steve