DEP Petition Save the Court House Preserve From Development
To whom it may concern From: Concerned Citizens of Middle Township, NJ Re: BLK 56.01 Lot 46 Known as 8 Railroad Ave. Cape May Court House , Middle Twp. NJ Developer - Conifer Realty T/A Middle Twp. Housing Associates We would like to appeal to your agency to consider the following concerns regarding the above site slated for development which is a narrow piece of land and is a Federal Acquisition Site, ranked #1 by an Act of Congress and ranked #4 with the State of NJ , 5 being the highest. Since the ranking, there has been an accepted sighting of a NJ Endangered Species. The site is surrounded by an existing Federal Wild Life Preserve, with numerous vernal pools scattered throughout. and a habitat for two NJ Endangered and two NJ Threatened species with a 400' to 4000' range. Originally, this habitat was only recognized at the rear of the property, but current evidence now has it expanded. Documentation had not yet reflected the full extent of habitat. Testimonials of over 19 environmental experts have been completely ignored at all local levels and the site was pursued despite the sensitivities. The site was originally denied zoning which Conifer Realty appealed three times and twice denied. The third time, the court ruled that the laws and regulations that were in place should be sufficient to protect the preserve. Further, the court suggested more testimony from professional environmental experts and remanded the case back to the Zoning Board. Instead of doing so, Middle Township officials went into closed session negotiations which gave Conifer Realty incentive (spot) zoning that stripped away all buffers and increased the allowed density with no further input from residents or environmentalists. This was accomplished by changing the zoning laws to accommodate the developer, even though there is a newly accepted Master Plan in place that has numerous other sites more suitable for this type of development. These other sites approved by the Township are on main thoroughfares with reasonable distance to public transportation and have no environmental issues. The environmental concerns at this site are overwhelming and would not limit the destruction to just the site itself since no reasonable transitional zoning between the site and the Preserve was considered! The development would put the entire surrounding Preserve at risk and all the endangered species. The impact of a development within feet of the Preserve will absolutely be significant with setbacks stripped away, and no sufficient buffers or fencing. In addition, there are also fire concerns and water issues including ground water recharge leading to drying up and contamination of vernal pools from chemical runoff. This site selection and approval process has been controversial from the start. We are asking for your consideration and enforcement of all the regulations afforded by (Federal and State) law to protect this site, the Endangered Species and the existing Preserve. We are asking that you please take into account that an Act of Congress has already deemed this site and the surrounding area vitally important for the continuation, health and safety of the Preserve and its inhabitants. We are asking that public funds not be used to destroy what public funds have preserved. Thank you for your time and consideration.