LIVINGSTON, NJ — Although a resolution was passed in January 2015 opposing a proposed oil pipeline in Livingston, Mayor Al Anthony and all members of the Livingston Township Council unanimously voted in favor of adopting the Livingston Planning Board’s ordinance recommendation banning an oil pipeline from ever being installed through the Township of Livingston.
Based on the unanimous decision made at the May 9 council meeting, the council gave guidance to Township Attorney Sharon Weiner to draft an ordinance prohibiting the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline, as it is inconsistent with the town’s Master Plan.
It should be noted that Pilgrim has not sent out applications for permits to do the project at this point, but the Livingston Township Council is committed to being ahead of the game in the instance that they do. The council, which intends to pass the ordinance at a future meeting, is also currently discussing whether to spend a minimum of $4,700 to join other towns in a legal agreement against the Pilgrim Pipeline.
According to Anthony, who is also an environmental lawyer, there appears to be no escape clause to the current proposed legal agreement. However, Anthony said that if the council and township attorney are able to develop a termination clause between the law firm and the group of towns involved, allowing them to walk away at any time, most of the council would feel comfortable joining the group.
“I think it’s appropriate for our residents—our taxpayers—to do our due diligence before we jump into that,” said Anthony, who was echoed by the entire council. “We passed a resolution against the pipeline, we’re going to pass an ordinance against the pipeline, and whether we want to join this pipeline group is for the lawyers to see whether we can get out of this group rather than committing to hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road and not $4700.”
Weiner, alongside Mayor Anthony and other professionals like Chatham Mayor Bruce Harris, intend to thoroughly review the current “Pipeline Group” agreements to ensure that there is an escape clause before making a decision on whether to join.
Unanimously opposing an oil pipeline that could directly affect the local environment as well as Livingston’s residential property value and safety if it is installed is not enough reason to join the group in hiring legal representation, according to the council. The fine print needs to be read and the mayor and council need to be confident that there is a way out of the agreement down the line if need be.
“The question is whether or not we spend $4700 to jump into a legal conversation,” said Councilman Michael Silverman, who reiterated that the entire is council is on board with taking the necessary steps to keep the pipeline out of Livingston. “I believe that whether it’s $.16 a resident or $600 a resident, it’s our job to make sure that money is properly spent and not just to spend it because it sounds good. We are doing our diligence to see whether or not the money will be appropriately spent.”
Learn more about the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal HERE.