Environmentalists oppose Pinelands development proposal

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A plan to build thousands of new homes in an Ocean County town is being met with opposition.

“We see this as kind of a Paramus in the Pines or a Cherry Hill in the middle of the Pinelands and I think the project is way too big,” says Jeff Tittle, of the Sierra Club.

The plan calls 4,000 new homes to be built on the empty land of the former Heritage Minerals mining quarry off Route 70 in Manchester Township. It is right in the middle of the Pinelands.

“The traffic impact, you’re going to see about 100,000 cars going in and out on a daily basis,” Tittle says.

Tittle also says that this will dramatically increase water usage in the area.

But developer H. Hovnanian says that those issues have always been considered since a settlement agreement was made with the state and the township in 2004 that allows for development on the 930 acres of barren land.

“The mature trees that you see in the distance, those woods are all going to remain,” says John Pagenkopf, vice president of development for H. Hovnanian. “Six-thousand acres that will be part of the open space preserved as part of the development application.”

Tittle says the Department of Environmental Protection rejected a similar proposal in the same area in 1998. That plan called for only 800 homes. He says that the proposed 4,000 just does not make sense.

But Pagenkopf says that that application was prior to the settlement agreement.

“We've got some environmental contamination and we're going to uphold the same standards in the prior settle agreement,” he say.  “Clean it up in a timely manner prior to the development stages."

Pagenkopf says that the developer will take every measure to ensure safe environmental standards.

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