SETTLEMENT WITH BRIDGEWATER DEVELOPER PRESERVES 212 ACRES
IN BARNEGAT BAY WATERSHED
(12/P19) TRENTON -Another 212 acres in the Barnegat Bay watershed will be permanently preserved under the terms of a settlement between the Department of Environmental Protection and a Bridgewater quarry owner to settle a seven-year-old dispute over alleged disturbance of more than six acres of wetlands and buffer areas in Somerset County, Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.
The agreement, signed by both sides this month, calls for Stavola Construction Materials Inc. to mitigate for the alleged loss of 6.59 acres of wetlands on its Bridgewater property by doing the following:
- Donating 85 acres along the Toms River in Ocean County, including 60 acres in Toms River Township and 25 acres in Manchester Township.
- Donating 127 acres in Jackson Township, Ocean County, which is located in the headwaters of the Metedeconk River.
- Paying a penalty of $154,860.
“The land that is being preserved is important to the water ecosystems in the Barnegat Bay watershed and will be valuable in the state’s efforts to restore and maintain the ecology of the bay,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “Preservation of these key tracts in the Barnegat Bay watershed will aid in the state’s continuing efforts to restore and protect the bay, which is one of the DEP’s five priority goals and part of Governor Christie’s long-term Comprehensive 10-point Barnegat Bay Restoration Plan.’’
More than 3,000 acres in the Barnegat Bay watershed were preserved since Governor Christie announced his plan in December 2010, and the DEP has targeted more than 30,000 acres in that watershed for preservation.
The acreage approved for preservation in this settlement exceeds the amount of mitigated acreage normally required by the state’s Freshwater Wetlands Mitigation Council, which reviewed and voted to approve the donation last week.
Stavola Construction must restrict the 212 acres from future development and donate the deed-restricted parcels in question to Ocean County, whose freeholder board is expected to soon finalize acceptance of the tracts. As part of the settlement, once the donations are made Stavola’s quarry activity on the 6.59 acres in question in Bridgewater may proceed.
“This settlement would satisfy Stavola’s mitigation requirement, avoid the cost of protracted litigation, and make a significant contribution toward the protection and restoration of Barnegat Bay,’’ said DEP Assistant Commissioner for Compliance and Enforcement Wolf Skacel. “It also provides a unique opportunity to combine a proposed land donation with existing preserved open space and protects the ecological integrity of the existing open space by eliminating the prospect of future adjacent development.’’
The case dates back to 2005 when the DEP alleged Stavola violated the state’s Freshwater Protection Act and Flood Hazard Area Control Act in connection with its quarry activities, including construction of a quarry road and two stream culvert crossings.
In the agreement, Stavola does not admit any liability or wrongdoing in the matter.
To read a copy of the proposed settlement, which includes specific lots and blocks for the donated land, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/docs/stavola-stip.pdf