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Sierra Club: Proposed Colts Neck Manor raises environmental concerns

By Taylor McFarland

The Colts Neck Planning Board held a special meeting on Nov. 3 to vote on the Colts Neck Manor development. The proposal is for a 360-unit, high density housing complex including 72 units of affordable housing with (a total of) approximately 1,000 residents.

The proposed development site on Route 537 near School Road East is next to Yellow Brook, a Category 1 stream, and tributaries to the Swimming River Reservoir, which provides drinking water for 300,000 people in Monmouth County.

Several residents submitted dozens of questions to the board before the meeting for Kushner Associates to answer, but they failed to do so.

The board members decided to extend the application and postpone their vote until Dec. 1 at 6:30 p.m. to accommodate all public participation.

We have major environmental and public health concerns associated with the proposed  development and its Amphidrome waste water system. The site for this project is completely inappropriate. This area is part of a watershed that feeds into a critical reservoir for Monmouth County.

Kushner Associates has also completely failed to adequately answer questions regarding its waste water system and the environmental impacts if this system failed.

We (the Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter) thank the Planning Board for extending the application so residents have the opportunity to ask questions and comment.

However, it is important that the board members consider the environmental and public health impacts this development can have on Colts Neck and nearby areas. There should be alternative sites for affordable housing in areas that will have less impact on our drinking water.

The Colts Neck Manor proposal calls for constructing an Amphidrome waste water treatment system underground, buried under pavement to handle all waste water generated on the site, which includes 15 apartment buildings, maintenance facilities, a clubhouse and a swimming pool.

The applicant stated that this Amphidrome system has been used at Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts, however, this system has not been used in New Jersey.

Colts Neck should not be experimenting with such a waste water system that has never been used in a residential area next to Category 1 streams and tributaries of a reservoir.

If there is no data to show the effectiveness of this system in this environmentally sensitive area, how can Kushner guarantee minimal impacts to our drinking water and the health of the residents of Colts Neck and surrounding towns who rely on the Swimming River Reservoir for drinking water?

According to the application for the Colts Neck Manor, there will be 715 parking spaces, which is more than 72,000 square feet, or 1.5 football fields. This means more impervious cover, more flooding and more polluted storm water runoff going into wetlands and critical streams.

There have been more than 100 residents at each Planning Board meeting concerning the Colts Neck Manor proposal who have raised public health and environmental concerns with the development.

When asked about their proposed waste water system, Kushner Associates punts the question and says it is the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s responsibility.

During the meeting on Nov. 3, residents who would be directly impacted by this development were cut off by Kushner because their Zoom video was not on, even though their audio worked perfectly.

Kushner is trying to rush this development through without adequate public input. They care about profits, not people or the impact on our drinking water.

The Colts Neck Manor development will be a disaster for our drinking water, public health and safety. This development would have serious impacts to critical streams and drinking water for 300,000 people in Monmouth County.

Hundreds of residents have been showing up to these meetings, but they leave with more unanswered questions. Given the environmentally sensitive site, Colts Neck should not approve a waste water system that has never been used in New Jersey.

Taylor McFarland is the acting director of the Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter.

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