Because the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) denied multiple, repeated requests from the public and Senate Environment Committee Chair and Highlands Act prime sponsor Bob Smith to conduct an additional public hearing on DEP's proposed significant increase in residential development allowed in the core of the Highlands Preservation Area, 27 environmental groups are unilaterally organizing an independent public hearing. Members of the public are invited to attend and to provide oral comments. All comments will be recorded, transcribed and submitted to DEP as public comments.
The NJDEP is proposing to increase development density in the ecologically sensitive, high integrity forests of the Highlands Preservation Area, despite the legislative intent of the Highlands Act to prohibit any activity that could degrade groundwater quality because of the vital link that exists between the region’s water resources and New Jersey’s economy and quality of life.
27th District Assemblyman John McKeon, Chairman of Assembly Judiciary Committee, former chair (and current vice chair) of the Environment Committee, and prime Assembly sponsor of the 2004 Highlands Act, will moderate the hearing. Representatives of the sponsoring organizations will provide brief summaries of their concerns about the rule proposal. Individuals will be invited to the podium to comment on the rule proposal, where they will be recorded. A written transcript will be made of all comments, which will be delivered to DEP as public comments. Per the NJ Administrative Procedures Act, DEP must keep a record of,consider, and respond to all oral and written submissions before the adoption of a rule proposal.
"The Christie Administration’s calling in the bulldozers here literally by increasing development by our drinking water and figuratively by rejecting repeated requests to hold more than one hearing at a better time and location for those most likely to be negatively impacted -- consumers of the contaminated water resulting from the rule changes. Both weaken drinking water protections and violate the legislative intent of the Highlands Act, so we're holding the Governor to account!"
Assemblyman John McKeon to moderate
Dave Pringle, Campaign Director, NJ Clean Water Action (732) 996-4288
Elliott Ruga, Policy Director, NJ Highlands Coalition (973) 722-4934
Jeff Tittel, Director, Sierra Club, NJ Chapter (609) 558-9100
Wilma Frey, Senior Policy Manager, NJ Conservation Foundation (908) 234-1225 x131
Dave Peifer, Highlands Project Director, ANJEC (973) 539-7547
Bill Kibler, Policy Director, Raritan Headwaters Association (908) 930-0881
Center for Environmental & Life Sciences (CELS)
Montclair, NJ 07042
* Parking: Red Hawk Parking Deck on College Avenue, then it's a 7 minute walk to CELSThe Coalition to Save the Highlands includes ANJEC, Clean Water Action, NJ Conservation Foundation, NJ Highlands Coalition, Raritan Headwaters Association, the Sierra Club, et al.