Robert J. Miller AirPark, Ocean County
The Pinelands Preservation Alliance is strongly opposed to an Memorandum of Agreement for more development at the Robert J. Miller AirPark. In the preservation area the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan allows for a 50 percent expansion of non-conforming uses that existed prior to 1981. Ocean County should not be allowed to go beyond this clear and generous allowance.
[+ ZOOM] The Robert J Miller Airpark, Ocean County. © PPA
These rules have been in effect for the last 30 years, which has been plenty of notice for Ocean County to plan within the regulations of the Comprehensive Management Plan. If the Pinelands Commission gives the County this Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the Airpark, you can be sure they will be coming back again for more in the future. When will it end?
The airpark is located within the Preservation Area, the area that the Commission is supposed to protect most vigorously. The MOA that Ocean County wants would violate the Pinelands Protection Act, which sets the goals for the Preservation Area. Those goals do not include allowing this kind of commercial and industrial development.
There is no equivalent level of protection of resources when you destroy Preservation Area habitats.
In 2007, Ocean County submitted information to the Pinelands Commission for 6 new development projects for the Robert J. Miller AirPark. The projects included a crosswind runway and parallel taxiway construction, 9 airplane "T" hangars and taxi land construction, a 500 foot shift of the existing runway, tree topping/removal, an apron expansion and pavement maintenance activities. The Commission responded on January 25, 2008 with a letter that outlined the County's future development and the measures Ocean County was proposing to offset the impacts to threatened or endangered species located at the AirPark. Read entire letter below:
[+ ZOOM] The Robert J Miller Airpark, Ocean County from the air. © PPA
In order to proceed with a Pinelands Commission MOA, Ocean County originally was proposing to deed restrict all the lands surrounding the Robert J. Miller AirPark as the offset for the impacts to the threatened and endangered species. But these lands are all listed on the Ocean County Open Space ROSI with New Jersey Green Acres.
In order to remove these lands from its ROSI Ocean County discussed with Green Acres the amendment process that is outlined in N.J.A.C. 7:36-25.3 of the New Jersey Green Acres regulations. This process is in the regulations to address those local governments who believe that its ROSI does not accurately or completely describe the lands held for recreation and conservation purposes with a means of correcting it.
Ocean County has made a request to remove the following:
Block 15, Lots 1-3, 4,01, 5.02, 6 & 7.01; Block 16, Lot 1; Block 18, Lot 1.01
Which totals 920 acres of land.
PPA feels that these parcels belong on the ROSI and has submitted comments to the New Jersey Green Acres. Read our comments below:
Ocean County has also received federal grant money to aquire land and do the projects at the site. Attached is a list and the funding amounts. Click here
On May 9, 2011, New Jersey Green Acres sent Ocean County a letter releasing the 934 off County Open Space ROSI. Click here PPA disagrees and has filed an appeal challenging the NJ Green Acres decision.
Last week the Pinelands Commission issued the new draft, which is attached above calling for the 485 acre off set to be purchased within a three year time frame from the date of the MOA.
Offsets for relaxed items: “Measures proposed to afford an equivalent or better level of protection for the resources of the Pinelands”
Ocean County is proposing to acquire and deed restrict against future development, through the OCEAN COUNTY NATURAL LANDS TRUSTprogram 485 acres.
- These uplands will contain a minimum of 354 acres of suitable characteristic Pine snake, corn snake or Timber Rattlesnake habitat. Reptile Habitat Management Areas will be established on acquired land. County is also proposing a number of environmental commitments set forth in Appendix D which ia not yet part of the MOA, when released to public. There is also restrictions on development timing, and a sickle leaved golden aster management plan (involves transplanting).
- Sixty acres of suitable characteristic Pine Barren Tree Frog Habitat.
- They will have three years of the effective date of the MOA to purchase the off-set land.
- Fifteen acres being proposed as an offset for the 5 acres of additional development.
- Seventy five acres of this acreage are being proposed as an offset for the 50% expansion provision.
- Impacts to grassland habitat will be offset through the creation of additional grassland bird habitat, as a result of scrub shrub vegetation and pine/oak forest as part of the obstruction removal activities.
The NJ Pinelands Commission held a public hearing on April 18, 2012, with an additional public comment period which was only two days. The deadline to submit comments was April 20, 2012.