by Carleton Montgomery, Executive Director
You may have heard about the controversy over building a solar power facility on the former Stafford Township landfill. Over the past week, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, the Pinelands Commission, and finally a body called the State House Commission have all signed off on a no-bid deal the township made with Walters Group, the developer of the Stafford Park and many other developments in the Stafford area. Walters gets a 30-year lease on the land to build and operate the solar facility – for a profit – in exchange for paying the township an amount of money which the township says should amount to something like $75-150,000 a year in lease payments.
All along, the township advocated for diversion without compensation. It did not want to provide a single acre of replacement parkland. It got its way.
Solar power is good, right? It is, of course. The problem is that this land had been lawfully deed-restricted “in perpetuity” as conservation open space. Just as with homes – which are even more essential to us than solar energy facilities – we need them, but not everywhere. (more…)