Over 1,000 attend JCP&L public hearing in Middletown

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By JESSICA HARDING
Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN — At 7 p.m. yesterday, crowds of hundreds of people attended Middletown High School North with the hopes of sharing their opinions on the recent Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) power line debate.

JCP&L, under its parent company FirstEnergy, seeks to build a 10-mile-long, high-voltage power line, cutting through Aberdeen, Hazlet, Middletown, Holmdel and Red Bank. The project is called the Monmouth County Reliability Project.

Judge Gail Cookson served as the moderator of the meeting as she encouraged the crowd to share their thoughts, but in an organized manner.

“I know there is a lot of passion about this issue just witnessed by the number of people here,” she said. “But there is passion on both sides, and I will give every side the opportunity to express that.”

Many disgruntled residents expressed a strong opposition to the project. Some of the community had formed the group Residents Against Giant Electric (RAGE) eight months ago in response to this proposal.

RAGE founder and Middletown resident Rachael Kanapka was overwhelmed by the amount of support that was in the auditorium last night.

“There is a capacity of 786 people in here and 500 in the cafeteria holding area. There are still people outside trying to get in.”

FirstEnergy Supervisor of Transmission Sitings Scott Humphrys explained the project in depth. He described the new transmission line that will stretch from Aberdeen to Red Bank.

Humphrys stated that there had been a routing study completed as well as extensive field work and analysis for the social, environmental and financial impact the new power line would have.

“There have been two public information sessions as well as community outreach for the community’s input.”

Several mayors of the towns involved, senators’ representatives, concerned residents and township committee members were in attendance.

Mayor of Holmdel Greg Buontempo expressed that his entire town is against the project.

“Holmdel is a very beautiful community. No input from our town was taken prior to the planning.”

According to opposing residents, the health risks, financial strain, risk of danger and decrease in property values are all reasons enough to cancel the project.

A decision is scheduled to be released by April.

Visit StopJCPL.org or https://www.firstenergycorp.com/jersey_central_power_light.html for more information.