Pinelands Commission Public Meeting - Recap

Pinelands Commission locks out hundreds of people in the rain, preventing them from sharing public comment on the South Jersey Gas pipeline project.

Pinelands Commission - Public Meeting Jan. 24, 2017

The Pinelands Commission held a public meeting on the South Jersey Gas pipeline project on January 24th at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Brown's Mills. It was a disaster almost from the start.

Image of People locked out of the meeting in freezing rain.People locked out of the meeting in freezing rain.

Hundreds of citizens came to voice their views on the proposed South Jersey Gas pipeline now pending before the Pinelands Commission. Close to 100 of them were locked out of the Pinelands Commission meeting at St. Ann's Parish Centre in Pemberton because the venue was far too small for the predicted and actual number of people who came to listen and to speak.

We warned Nancy Wittenberg, executive director of the Pinelands Commission, about the capacity issue. We said, "Pinelands Preservation Alliance is concerned about the capacity for the meeting room scheduled on January 24th at 9:30 AM at St. Ann's Parish Centre. The Parish Centre secretary informed us that the room capacity is 120 persons. It is expected that the number of interested individuals will exceed this number."

Image of Packed house before the start of the South Jersey Gas public meeting.[+ ZOOM] Packed house before the start of the South Jersey Gas public meeting.

The Pinelands Commission did not respond and proceeded to hold the meeting in a venue that placed pregnant women, children, and many others out in the cold and rain with no means to accommodate them indoors, or even to provide bathroom access. Many people left in frustration, and those outside could not hear and learn from the comments of others.

This knowing selection of a drastically undersized facility by the Pinelands Commission restricts the public access and just makes the impression that the fix is in even stronger. And it was totally avoidable. The Commission invited the public to come to the meeting to be heard, yet seemed intent on suppressing public participation and making the experience as difficult as possible. It was a slap in the face of the people who care deeply about this pipeline issue.

NEWS coverage

More than Half Refused Entry at So-Called Public Meeting - Politics of Ocean County Website

Pinelands Commission pushes on with South Jersey Natural Gas Line - NJ Spotlight

Here is a series of video clips taken during the January 24th meeting:

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