SBB to DEP: Save Southern Ocean County Rail Trail

The political machine in Lacey Twp wants to destroy the old Jersey Central Railroad right-of-way by paving it for a highway. SBB, Lacey Rail Trails, and the voters in Lacey Township want it conserved as a bike and walking trail. NJDEP must now decide…

Save Barnegat Bay
906-B Grand Central Avenue
Lavallette, NJ 08735

732-830-3600

www.savebarnegatbay.org

Mr. Charles Welch
Hearing Officer
Land Use Regulation
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Trenton, NJ

By Email:
[email protected]

Re: Lacey Township CAFRA application to pave Jersey Central Railroad Right-of-Way

September 29, 2005

Dear Mr. Welch,

I am writing on behalf of Save Barnegat Bay, which is supported by contributions from over 1,500 families annually, many of whom live in Lacey Township. Please enter these comments into the official record.

Save Barnegat Bay urges the Department to deny with prejudice the CAFRA application of the Township of Lacey to destroy one of Ocean County’s most important regional environmental assets — the Jersey Central Railroad Right-of-way.

What is especially egregious about the Township’s inappropriate application is that in the General Election of November 2001, the people of Lacey Township expressly voted to oppose the creation of a paved automobile roadway on the railroad right-of-way.

They voted instead to have the trail made part of the County of Ocean’s proposed fifteen mile bike and walking trail from South Toms River to Barnegat Township.

Although the current application calls for destroying only one mile of the right-of-way, as a matter of common sense it should be plain: no link, no chain, i.e., if a portion of the trail in Lacey is destroyed for an automobile road, then the entire regional project is made void, or nearly so. The Township’s dubious plan to jam a bike path alongside their paved highway would gravely wound the regional project — and it may be impossible to cram an automobile road and a bike and walking trail together in the existing right-of-way.

Who can doubt that if this application is approved, the township will be back with further applications to pave the rest of their four-mile portion of the proposed County trail?

The regional detriment if you approve this environmentally destructive proposal goes beyond the loss of a biking and walking trail for southern Ocean County. Experience elsewhere proves that once a walking and bicycle trail is created it becomes a backbone around which to connect other greenway and open space acquisitions.

A roadway, by contrast, becomes a backbone around which to build more box stores, strip malls, and high density residential complexes against the expressed will of a majority of the people of Lacey Township.

Once these deleterious regional impacts are realized, the environmental results will be more polluting runoff into Barnegat Bay, more unwanted traffic on our roads, and further loss of habitat for migratory birds and other animal species — not to mention a devastating blow to the health of our democracy.

Both Section 10 and Section 11 of the CAFRA law give the Department ample grounds for seeing that this regional tragedy never occurs.

Save Barnegat Bay urges the Department to vindicate the electoral will of the people of Lacey Township by upholding the law of our state with a denial of this manifestly inappropriate political insult to our environment.

Which side are you on?

Sincerely,

William deCamp Jr., President
Save Barnegat Bay

Read another SBB letter on this subject.

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