BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The Bernards Township Committee will discuss and potentially vote at a Jan. 24 meeting on whether to proceed with or drop a redevelopment plan for Millington Quarry that would place more than 200 housing units and thousands of acres of commercial space on the defunct quarry property off Stonehouse Road.
The committee will that night discuss whether the township wants to continue with support for the plan, as proposed and presented last fall, Mayor John Carpenter said to a crowd of residents at Tuesday's meeting that included many "Stop the Quarry" proponents. Carrying signs, the residents had protested outside town hall prior to the meeting's start.
Meeting set to be held on Jan. 24 at Ridge PAC
The upcoming meeting at which the quarry will be discussed will be scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24 _ on the night following the regularly scheduled Township Committee meeting on Jan. 23 _ Carpenter said. That extra night's meeting will be held at the Ridge High School Performing Arts Center to allow room for residents who want to speak on the proposal, the mayor said.
Township Clerk Denise Szabo said the agenda for the meeting would be posted on the Bernards Township website on the Friday prior to the meeting.
Members of the Stop the Quarry group said before the meeting that they had gathered about 1,400 signatures on an online petition to overturn the township's support for private development of about 180 acres of quarried land through a state porgram for blighted property.
Speaking before the Township Committee, Debra Esposito, a resident who lives near the quarry, read from some of the comments that residents had made when they signed the petition.
A resident "Lisa," wrote, "This proposal is way too much development for the beautiful center of our town," Esposito told the Township Committee and audience. Another resident noted that if built, the plan for homes, a hotel, and office and retail space would bring thousands of vehicles to local streets, Esposito said.
Newly elected Township Committeeman James Baldassare told the crowd he would not support the quarry redevelopment plan that has been presented.
Another speaker, former Planning Board member Richard Huckins, said the quarry owners should be requried to separate with a clay liner contaminated soil brought onto the property as fill from a pit that is slated to become a future lake. He said that a proposed rock barrier will not prevent the contaminants from soil from eventually leaching into the lake.
Friends of Stop the Quarry Plan had earlier that day announced that the group has retained legal counsel to support its quest to stop the proposed redevelopment plan for the quarry.
Friends retained Jay Bohn, a land use attorney at Schiller, Pittenger & Galvin.
The opposition group says it has more than 1,350 signatures on a petition to stop the current plan and will present it tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 9) at the Bernards Township Committee meeting. The Friends are prepared to take legal action to prevent the zoning change ordinance from passing, reads a statement from the Friends group.
The New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club also said it was opposing the redevelopment plan at the quarry because it says it would encourage overdevelopment on a contaminated site.