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New Info, Possible Public Input, Expected at Quarry Hearing

Tuesday's public hearing before Bernards Planning Board set to include an update from witness for township.

The public hearing on the Millington Quarry's plan for rehabilitating the longtime quarrying operation off Stone House Road so it can be used for something else after the quarry closes completely — possibly for residential development — is into its ninth month before the township Planning Board at the board's 7:30 p.m. meeting on Tuesday. The public also may get a chance to present opinions and ask further questions about the plan at the meeting.

Resident Vann Vogel on Monday night said that neighbors of the decades-old quarry are prepared to address the board regarding the quarry's application.

He said resident Carol Bianchi intends to present an expert witness to testify on behalf of neighbors' concerns. Bianchi, a member of the Planning Board who stepped down from hearing this case because of her involvement with a watchdog group that raised questions about soil contamination and other safety issues at the quarry facility.

Vogel, another resident who had been involved with "Citizens for A Safe and Clean Millington Quarry," said he also intends to voice his opinion on the quarry's plans, which he called "premature."

But first, according to the Planning Board secretary, Frances Florio, another expert who had previously spoken on behalf of Bernards Township is due to offer more testimony.

If all goes as planned on Tuesday, Jennifer Wollenberg of The Elm Group, who had peformed an environmental and health "risk assessment" on behalf of the township, will respond to other issues raised as well as presenting updated information, Florio said.

, or during the planned rehabilitation. An attorney representing the quarry, Michael Lavigne, later said later that the quarry plans to cover that soil with a layer of rock.

Wollenberg did testify that some of the identified contaminants in soil at the site could present a limited hazard to certain wildlife. She said that conclusion was partially based on the very strict standards New Jersey has for the detected presence of any pesticides such as DDT.

Was waiting for results for additional sampling

Upon questioning from the board, Wollenberg noted a certain level of uncertainty existed in her findings earlier this spring since the quarry was conducting additional sampling of potential soil contamination on the property.

Those results were expected to be available in a few months — possibly the summer — the quarry's representatives said then.

The detection of contaminants in soil being brought into the quarry site sparked a lawsuit between the township and quarry owner and operator that has never been settled. Initial testing in 2010 showed some presence of arsenic and lead in some soil borings on the property.

The origin of any soil or other fill that would be brought onto property has been a major source of discussion during the hearings.

Quarry representatives say that clean fill can be obtained for free from certain construction sites. Neighbors and others have asked that the quarry be required to prove that any incoming fill is safe.

One resident was able to offer opinion at the May meeting, before it was determined that additional testimony and answers to other questions raised was needed before final public comment.

Chris Walsh said then she had moved to the township in 1984, and had been told the quarrying would cease by 2000.

The meeting will be held at the 1 Collyer Lane. The public hearing on plans for the property, about 190 acres that includes woods, cliffs and quarried areas,

After the Planning Board makes a recommendation, the Township Committee has the ultimate vote on whether to approve the latest version of the plan, which much be updated every few years. But the committee never approved the previous plan presented by Millington Quarry Inc. in 2008.

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