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Save Hamilton Open Space

P.O. Box 2594
Hamilton, NJ 08690
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1) Resident Contine to Fight Sharbell Housing Development at the Italian American Sportsmans Club - Update. Sept 3, 2011


Background

Sharbell Land Development filed a plan to build 52 houses on 37.5 acres of land they acquired from the Italian American Sportsman’s Club on Kuser Rd across from Veterans Park. The applicant sought flood plain relief, a zoning variance, and preliminary and final approval of a major subdivision.

Local residents were concerned that some of the proposed houses were encroaching into wetlands and would cause neighborhood flooding. Also, since the land was formerly used for skeet shooting, residents were concerned about lead significant contamination from pellets and clay targets. In addition, they were worried that a proposed street connection would create “cut through” traffic in their neighborhood.

SHOS joined neighbors in seeking to guarantee environmental protections.

Despite the public outcry, the Zoning Board granted preliminary approval of the project at its January 11, 2011, meeting.

Neighbors appealed the Board's decision to the Hamilton Council. They ruled that the township ordinance limited the appeal to the variance that was granted so the other issues were not considered by Council. That variance, which was not a contentious issue, was upheld.

Council later passed a resolution to support additional testing on the site in accordance with federal best practices for shooting range site cleanup.

What’s Happening Now


Despite several OPRA requests to the township, residents are still in the dark about specifics of the testing, particularly the sampling method used. They contend that Council's resolution regarding additional testing and sampling was not followed. For example, no testing was done for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons or PAHs, a known carcinogen (PAHs were in the pitch that glued together the clay targets used on the skeet shooting ranges). Also, there was no groundwater sampling or off-site testing.
 
Residents dispute the township contention that only 2 to 5 percent of the property is contaminated because that percentage is based on faulty sampling. They say that both the samples and the area of investigation were too small, and that samples were taken at incorrect soil depths.  They are very concerned considering that ~78% of the samples collected from the site thus far have contained lead, and several of those soil samples contained lead contamination over 100 times above NJ DEP limits. 

The Trenton Times reported a statement by Tom Troy, VP of Sharbell, saying that all sampling is complete.

Other issues include the location of a stream and adjacent wetlands, water table levels and a proposed retention pond.

  • NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) reversed its initial ruling regarding the stream location. The first determination would have caused the loss of up to ten houses from the site plan due to their encroachment into wetlands buffer zones. NJDEP’s initial ruling was based on an on-site inspection of the property. They changed their mind based on 70 year old photos of the site. The second ruling said that the Sharbell delineation was right after all and that all 52 houses could be built. That reversal is being appealed to the NJDEP and in court.
  • Another issue has to do with a method developers use to delineate no-build buffer zones around wetlands and streams. Known as stream buffer averaging, it’s a tradeoff that permits encroachment into one section of a buffer if another section is expanded. The problem with using it in this development is that it was used some years ago but never recorded. Now the developer is trying to use it again in the same area – something that’s not permitted. Residents want the original buffer averaging to be taken into account.
  • Princeton Hydro, an engineering firm, testified at the Zoning Board hearing that the seasonal high water table would negatively impact at least 18 of the lots. Further the firm said the retention basin proposed near I-195 would fail.

 

For more information contact Stan Jakoboski at solarnj@aol.com

 



2) 2000 Acres of Open Space Preserved

The largest open space and farmland protection deal in the state's history was announced April 18, 2011. The 3 square mile area is located in Mercer, Monmouth and Burlington Counties. It was formerly owned by Princeton Nursuries. 512 acres will become a wildlife management area. Another 500 acres will be added to the Monmouth and Mercer county park system, and 900 acres will be protected farmland. Total cost is $27.8 million.

The Flemmer family owned and operated Princeton Nursuries. Bill Flemmer said at the announcement ceremony that protecting the land was the only responsible thing to do. “Every shopping center, every intersection, every housing development built, it was somebody’s farm before that,” he said. “The beautiful thing is, this will still be a farm. After we’re long gone, it will still look like this.”

Of the 1,900 acres, 106 lie in Hamilton, where roughly 19 acres will be protected as a greenway bordering Crosswicks Creek, and another 87 acres sold as deed-restricted farmland.





Save Hamilton Open Space P.O. Box 2594, Hamilton, NJ 08690 | 609-273-9173 | Info@SaveHamiltonOpenSpace.org
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