Objections Submitted to DEP Walmart Plan

Pinelands Preservation Alliance letter to N.J. DEP states that Route 37 proposal is not clear and may hinder Barnegat Bay restoration

A plan to build a Super Walmart near the Toms River-Manchester border of Route 37 is not a step forward for saving the Northern Pine Snake or for Barnegat Bay restoration plans, said a preservation group in documents submitted to the state.

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) has submitted documents in opposition to a plan between the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection and the developers of a Super Walmart proposed to be built on the Toms River-Manchester border.

The proposal is a compromise that would allow for the Walmart to be built, but with a smaller parking lot, and with the developer assuming responsibility to enhance the surrounding habitat for the snake, according to the state proposal.

However, PPA cited a lack of an actual proposed settlement and other environmental concerns in a letter to the DEP dated March 9. The deadline for public comment on the proposal was March 10.

"We object to the fact that the [DEP] has not presented any actual proposed settlement for review, but merely a collection of memos by the applicant and NJDEP staff," stated an attorney for the alliance in the letter.

The proposal, which was announced in the Jan. 12 DEP Bulletin, a compilation of permit applications and decisions, would require developer Jaylin Holdings to preserve forest inhabited by threatened pine snakes while allowing the superstore and its parking lot to be built on 21 acres, while preserving 212 acres of land.

Essentially, PPA said the proposal isn't clear on how preservation will work, such as who is providing the money for it, who will oversee it, and how long it will be guaranteed to be there.

The alliance letter stated that it is unclear what terms are being made for "financial guarantees, whether and how proposed conservations measures will be carried out over time, who will carry out and inspect what parts of the proposed mitigation activities, and what will be required if the proposed mitigation measures do not work as claimed."

At issue, said the PPA, is that the preserved area is not a contiguous tract, and the alliance is wondering how snakes are supposed to cross a parking lot or other built-out area to get to the next preserved spot of habitat.

The letter also called into question how the plan would impact Gov. Chris Christie's plan to restore the Barnegat Bay. 

"It is incredible that the NJDEP would look favorably upon this settlement given the stated policy of the agency and the Governor to 'Save Barnegat Bay,' " the letter stated, adding that the construction would "add a great deal of impervious cover" and "contaminating nutrients" into the bay and its watershed.

"While the public is being asked to spend money fixing malfunctioning stormwater basins to reduce nutrient loads, this development will negate a significant portion of those investments," the letter stated.

states that, for every acre Walmart develops, 10 acres will be set aside to protect snake habitat. That amounts to more than 200 acres of Pitch Pine trees and small sandy hills that go on for miles alongside Route 37.

Planned conservation efforts include Jaylin’s construction of five den areas called hibernacula, canopy sections needed for snake basking, nesting areas and a fence to block human interaction.

According to a DEP release from January, the department twice denied a Coastal Area Facility Review act permit filed by Jaylin because the development could impact the northern pine snakes, a threatened species in New Jersey. 

Lawrence Hajna, state DEP spokesman, said that the period for public comment was extended because this was the third time the CAFRA permit was filed by Jaylin and previous objectors needed to be notified.

Now that the period for public comment has closed, Hajna said that the DEP will consider comments, including those made by the PPA.

"We'll respond to that in writing," he said.

The DEP's ultimate goal, Hajna said in February, is that the parties will "enter into this agreement and the project will move forward.

"We'll look at the comments in the context of the agreement. If any changes are needed, well make these accommodations," he said. "We take those comments very seriously."

Johnjcpa April 06, 2011 at 11:52 AM
This isn't about Walmart building another store, it's about a property owner trying to get a better return for his property and Walmart getting a cheaper location by overturning current zoning and environmental restrictions on the proposed locations. There are still plenty of locations that Walmart could have obtained to build the store, just not as cheaply.
BN April 06, 2011 at 02:15 PM
The only reason why Walmart buys so much crap from China is because US labor unions drove up the prices of American goods, and politicians (from both parties) made it easier for this communist country with all its human rights violations, to sell said crap here. Hindsight is 20/20, but the current location was poorly planned. You could add a rear access road through the CIBA property, but the folks living on Dell St. or Cardinal Dr. wouldn't go for it...plus there's an elementary school right there. You could let Walmart build the new store on the new site with the stipulation that they tear down the old building & parking lot, and replace it with grass, trees, and shrubs. The new proposed lot is already surely contaminated from the old Conrail lines, the Heritage Co., and all the dirt bikers that ride back there...a delicate ecosystem it aint. Not many other options...the abandoned strip malls that line Rt.37 & Fisher are too small, and Rt. 9 is not an option. You can ban Walmart from TR, but how many jobs would be lost, and what kind of signal would that send to Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and all the other stores/resturants people here have been screaming for. Enough about the snake already! If you are anti-Walmart just say it. Stop hiding behind a creature that is probably suffering with inhumane microchip stuck up it's ***!
Jane April 21, 2011 at 03:12 PM
New Jersey just keeps letting developers build on the little land we have left. Before you know it, we'll be surrounded by strip malls and walmarts. Whether it's for the pine snake or not, this property should be left alone. I'm sure there's a lot of other wildlife using this area. Little by little people are losing their connection to the land and to our earth, and you wonder why? "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot"
DAVE 865 April 22, 2011 at 03:55 AM
The perfect location for the new Wal Mart should have been at the "new" Dover Mall. No snakes there, but I know what you're going to say, " the traffic around there is horrendous, and a Wal Mart there would make it 1000 times worse." Atleast, no trees, and eco systems would be harmed, the new building would be built on land that already had buildings on it. You'd think with all that $ Wal Mart has, they couldn't push/shove the new Shop Rite out. What do you think?
Mary June 03, 2011 at 08:13 PM
It's a shame this has gone on for so long. I am all for keeping animals in their habitat, but I have no idea what the northern pine snake looks like or does for our eco system. I think our economy would be better served if our citizens were working don't you?


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