Stafford Landfill - Environment Going to Lose Again?
Stafford Township passed an ordinance to allow the Stafford Landfill, which was closed with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Stafford Township and the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, to have solar panels built on top. This ignored the fact that during the MOA process the landfill portion of the Stafford Business Park was deed restricted for open space.
Back in June of 2006, when the MOA was signed by Stafford Township, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey Pinelands Commission for the redevelopment of the Stafford Business Park property a requirement was placed that after its proper capping, the landfill portion would be deed restricted for open space.
[+ ZOOM] Stafford landfill area planted with native pinelands grasses. © PPA
Pinelands Preservation Alliance has no objection to the construction of solar panels on landfills in Regional Growth Areas of the Pinelands, but in this case the deed restriction precludes the landfill from being converted because it has been dedicated to open space in a natural condition. The deed restriction, which in December 2006 was filed, states “that the Restricted Area be forever protected and preserved in its natural, scenic, open and existing state free from all activities that might damage, compromise or interfere with the ecological diversity, natural beauty or resource quality, or with the natural processes occurring.”
Pinelands Preservation Alliance has no objection to the construction of solar panels on landfills in Regional Growth Areas of the Pinelands, but in this case the deed restriction precludes the landfill from being converted because it has been dedicated to open space in a natural condition.
But in May of this year, Stafford Township passed Resolution 2010-128 to amend its Redevelopment Agreement with Walters Homes, Inc. This resolution allows for two changes to be made. The first was for a change of the required numbers of homes allowed for in the original agreement, which was 565 attached and detached age restricted homes. Walters Homes, Inc. now wants the agreement to read “permit but not require up to 565 market rate residential units” and for these units to be non-age restricted homes. The agreement also allows for 220 of these 565 units to be apartments. The second change is for “renewable energy facilities” to be added to the closed landfill. (map showing layout of solar panels)
[+ ZOOM] Stafford landfill grassland habitat. © PPA
Stafford Township has indicated that the renewable energy facility will be constructed in three phases. The first two phases would include approximately 3 to 3.5 MW of solar electricity each and the third phase will include approximately 3 to 4 wind turbines. (click here for Summary Report filed with the Pinelands Commission) A total of 24,624 solar panels will be placed on the closed landfill.
To release the deed restriction that was placed on the landfill property, Amy Cradic, Assistant Commissioner of Natural Resources wrote Stafford Township, August 20, 2010. The letter stated that the execution of a lease for the solar project with Walters would trigger the New Jersey Green Acres diversion process. (view letter) The lease of the landfill property is classified as a major parkland diversion pursuant to NJAC 7:36-26.10 of the Green Acres rules. (page 119) See below for the submissions to NJ Green Acres by Stafford Township and PPA's comments on application.
[+ ZOOM] Emile DeVito preforming bird survey
Recently Emile DeVito, NJ Conservation Foundation completed a Report of the Observations of Five Species of Threatened or Rare Birds at the Stafford Landfill 2012. This survey was on the land, designated under the original Pinelands Commission MOA, as the "Permanent Open Space Grassland & Rare Species Habitat" of the former Stafford Landfill. Click below to read report.
PPA together with NJ Conservation Foundation submitted the following comments to NJ Green Acres for the 2010 application:
The Pinelands Commission approved the Amendment to the Memorandum of Agreement between Stafford Township, Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Pinelands Commission. (amendment- click here)
Commission Bob Martin recommended approval of the release of Stafford's deed restriction .
NJ Green Acres Application Documents prepared by Stafford Township:
View location of Stafford Business Park on a Google Map
Reports submitted to the New Jersey Pinelands Commission:
Recent news coverage: