DEP REACHES SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WITH DEMARCO

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DEP REACHES SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WITH DEMARCO

Date: 22 Jan 2004
From: "depnews depnews" {depnews@dep.state.nj.us}

FRESHWATER WETLANDS IN NEW JERSEY'S PINELANDS TO BE RESTORED

January 22, 2004

Trenton - Settling long-standing violations of the state's Freshwater
Wetlands Protection Act, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced that A.R. DeMarco
Enterprises, Inc. will restore 22 acres of wetlands that were
unlawfully converted to cranberry bogs in 1998, and will pay the state
a $400,000 fine.

"Our settlement with DeMarco is the final chapter in a story that
began with egregious environmental violations and ends with the
restoration of environmentally sensitive wetlands," said DEP
Commissioner Campbell. "Through the New Jersey Conservation
Foundation's efforts, this valuable Pinelands parcel is preserved for
both the enjoyment of residents and the benefit of the unique
ecosystem."

"This is a strong and effective settlement because it ensures that
this large, environmentally significant parcel will be restored to its
original condition," said Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. "Our
lawyers in the Division of Law did an excellent job of supporting the
DEP to ensure that justice was served in this matter."

J. Garfield DeMarco converted wetlands into cranberry bogs on 22
acres of land located in Woodland Township, Burlington County. The
property adjoins Wharton State Forest in New Jersey's environmentally
sensitive Pinelands. DeMarco's cranberry bog expansion was conducted
without appropriate DEP permits as required under the state's
Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act. Upon discovery of the unpermitted
activities, the DEP issued DeMarco a Notice of Violation, and in 2001
fined the cranberry grower $594,000. The DEP also ordered DeMarco to
restore two acres of disturbed freshwater wetlands, or to apply for
DEP authorization for conversion of those two acres into cranberry
bogs.

Concurrent with the issuance of the penalty and order, DeMarco
received two statewide general permit authorizations that allowed the
conversion of the 20 acres of freshwater wetlands. DeMarco also
submitted an application for a third general permit authorization for
the two additional acres, which DEP denied.

In July 2002, under the McGreevey Administration, the DEP issued a
Notice of Intent to Revoke the previously issued general permit
authorizations as a result of environmental concerns. DeMarco
challenged the DEP's permit revocation in the Office of Administrative
Law, which is resolved in the current settlement.

As part of the settlement agreement, DeMarco must restore the 22
acres of wetlands to their predisturbance conditions. DeMarco must
submit a work plan for the restoration to the DEP within 60 days of
the closing of the sale of the property to the New Jersey Conservation
Foundation, which occurred on December 31, 2003. Under the settlement
agreement, the completed restoration must occur within 18 months of
the DEP approved work plan. Successful completion of the restoration
will be determined through a DEP inspection, and must include an 85
percent survival rate of restored vegetation three years after the
work is done. DeMarco must place $100,000 in an interest bearing
escrow account or deliver a performance bond in the same amount to
guarantee the completion of the restoration work.

In addition, the DEP and DeMarco agreed to settle outstanding
penalties and violations for $400,000. The penalty will paid to the
State of New Jersey in two equal payments of $200,000, the first due
by March 1, 2004 and the second due March 1, 2005.

The New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) purchased the 9,400-
acre DeMarco property for $12 million in December 2003. NJCF raised
$5.2 million in private contributions and secured a $1.5 million, low-
interest loan from the Open Space Institute for the purchase. They are
in the process of raising the additional $6.8 million needed to pay
off the outstanding balance of the purchase, which will be paid off
over five years. The DEP's Green Acres Program is working with the
Pinelands Commission to prepare an application to the National Park
Service to commit $600,000 in federal Land and Water Conservation
funding to assist NJCF in meeting its funding needs for this
acquisition. In addition, the Conservation Foundation plans to raise
an additional $3 million to create an endowment for the property's
long-term stewardship.

The settlement agreement between the DEP and DeMarco is being
published in the New Jersey Bulletin. The anticipated publication date
is February 11, 2004. There is a 30-day public comment period.

* * *

Contact: Amy Cradic (609) 984-1795

NJ Department of Environmental Protection