Continuing Quarry Hearing Coming Up This Week
Also, meetings on Ridge traffic and Ridge 'Spirit Week' events.
The Millington Quarry's application for its latest plan of how it would transform land that has been quarried for about a century back into usable land will be a full year old if the case before the Planning Board makes it to November.
Still, it's unlikely anyone would show up for that anniversary with a cake, or champagne. However, it's certainly also no surprise that a case as complicated as how to turn the biggest undeveloped tract in the township into land capable of possible future development would take a long time for the Planning Board, public and event experts for both the planners and the quarry to present, examine and analyze the application, much of it highly technical.
This Tuesday, the Planning Board again is scheduled to continue hearing the application, with members of the public finally getting to express their opinion. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Residents who at the last meeting in August offered their opinions on the Millington Quarry's so-called rehabilitation plan for the future of the deeply quarried property off Stonehouse Road offered detailed suggestions — and they have more to say.
Resident Bill Allen, also a former Township Committeeman, read three parts of his own plan envisioning how the quarry land might be prepared to someday house a neighborhood on the banks of a recreational lake. However, he also asked the board of a couple of hours to present a plan to move fill from the south side of the quarry to build up a more gradual incline for cliffs that would run along a proposed 50-acre lake on the property.
Allen said the "two to one" slope he would like to see on the north side of the lake still is fairly steep but — and he held up a geometric shape to show the 63 degree cliff he said would tower above the lake as in the quarry's plans — "This, on the other hand, is a killer." He said his plan would involve moving four million cubic yards of material aroud, but not involve bringing additional fill into the site.
Following discussion and a denied request for a synopsis of what he plans to say, the board agreed Allen can return to present his continued testimony at the meeting on Oct. 2.
But hearing that, Millington Quarry's attorney, Michael Lavigne, asked for an earlier hearing date, and noted that the quarry's plan has been before the Planning Board already for 12 hearings before first being presented last November.
Lavigne said that some planning board's limit testimony to about a half-hour for each speaker — but Board Member Anne Parsekian, who was chairing the meeting, said the board had not yet done so.
During Tuesday's testimony, Allen called for a return of the quarry's soil expert, Joseph Sorge, to answer additional questions about the possible leaching of contaminants from soil previously trucked into the quarry. Using the quarry's own test data, Allen said that levels of contaminants in a test well on part of the property appeared to be rising in concentration, which was well above DEP guidelines.
He added that the level of concentration roughly aligned with concentration of substances in nearby soil.
Lavigne reminded Allen that the township's own consultant, Dr. Jennifer Wollenberg, had testified that the soil on the property now, even without some sort of remediation, presents no harm to humans, although she had suggested the installation of an additional test well.
Allen also suggested that the Planning Board recommend to the Township Committee — which has the final say on whether to approve the quarry's latest rehabilitation plan, which is supposed to be updated every three years — that perhaps the meadow area that could support future homes should be left as bare rock rather than importing soil at this time.
That would avoid the issue of how much soil would be needed until a specific development plan might be presented, he said in presenting his reasoning.
However, both Lavigne and the board's attorney, Stuart Koenig, objected that the town's ordinance specifically requires the rehabilitation plan to leave the quarry in a condition with ground cover that could support vegetation. The total quarry property is about 180 acres.
After hearing Allen's detailed specifications for the quarry's future, Lavigne protested he began the hearings last November by specifying that this plan is not an application for a residential development.
Allen wasn't the only resident to testify in August.
Resident Suzanne Quigley of St. Nicholas Way off Valley Road said that when the quarry was in full operation, quality of life in the area suffered greatly as trucks heading to the quarry every morning starting at 6 a.m. cracked windshields, created dust and noise, and required moving a school bus stop off Valley Road.
She said the neighbors' quality of life has improved since the quarrying operation was scaled back and the end of the quarry's life nears.
The evening's testimony began with Lavigne questioning resident Jeff Cappola, also presented to the board as an expert on the basis of his long involvement with property redevelopment and some development projects in New Jersey.
At the previous meeting, Lavigne challenged Cappola's qualifications to testify as an expert on behalf of the public, both due to his training and what he said is Cappola's lack of neutrality. Cappola said he had worked on many projects that involved bringing soil into construction sites.
"This is New Jersey," Cappola said. "No way where you had commercial or industrial activities are you going to get uncontaminated [soil]." he said.
Meeting on Ridge traffic proposals also coming up on Tuesday
Another meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon will not be open to the public — although it's on a topic that has generated much public interest.
Representatives for the Board of Education, school district and Township Committee are due to meet as a subcommittee and re-examine options for alleviating Ridge High School's traffic problems at the school entrance each morning.
Last week, some residents and members of the Township Committee said they aren't in favor of school official's favored option at this point — widening South Finley Avenue to create a left turn lane in through the health department's property and creating a way for cars to head from that driveway to back parking lots.
Also this week:
- The township recreation, parks and pathways advisory committee is due to meet at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Township municipal building at 1 Collyer Lane.
- It's school spirit week at Ridge High School! Coming up:
- Monday is pajama day.
- Tuesday is sports day; wear your favorite team's jersey.
- Wednesday is tie-die day.
- Thursday is U.S.A. Day; wear red, white and blue.
- Friday is class color day; 9th graders should wear red, 10th graders should wear white; 11th graders should wear green and 12th graders should wear black.
- Back to School Night is Thursday for 10th and 11th graders at Ridge High School.