Recently the town council voted to ban plastic bags in our community in a manner that is not only ineffective but potentially harmful to local businesses. This ban was voted on prior to hearing from residents and within a time period of two meetings. It didn’t matter that the data that was used (including the data on microplastics) had little to do with Berkeley Heights or this ban; that the environmental committee gaslighted residents and local businesses with irrelevant data. It did not matter that numbers and facts used by the environmental committee were disconnected from the fundamental purpose of the ordinance. It didn’t matter that the State of NJ was considering a statewide ban that, at the very least, did not disadvantage our local businesses. It was the optics, in my opinion, the ability to pretend that something meaningful was being done.
However, real concerns have not been given as much air time. Toll Brothers and their track record appear to present an ACTUAL threat. Let’s take a look at their track record:
“The property was sold in 2014. Toll Brothers began work in 2017, cutting down about 1,000 trees that had long stemmed the amount of runoff getting into Pleasant Brook. The company dealt with the arsenic-laden soil by blending the top few feet with clean soil to dilute the contaminants and bring them within state-permitted levels.
In January 2018, residents saw the little waterway turn from crystal clear to muddy and opaque. "It was like someone replaced the water with chocolate milk," said Derek Michalski, whose home sits along the brook.
The muddy water was the result of stormwater running off the site and being pumped from the Toll Brothers property into the brook, which begins in Mahwah and meanders through Ramsey and Upper Saddle River before connecting to the Saddle River.”
Why isn’t the Environmental Committee bringing this up during town council meetings? Why are they acting like mouthpieces for ideological platforms instead of watchdogs on what is a real and meaningful environmental concern that could impact our community?
Residents should really start asking questions about whose interests township committees are protecting. Is it residents or politicians and their visions of grandeur?