DEP Needs Info On Heritage

(Photo by Micromedia Publications)

MANCHESTER – Members of the public and elected officials have found problems with the Heritage Minerals development plan, and now the DEP also found the application wanting.

Hovsons wants to build 4,000 homes with recreation, a clubhouse, and 40,000 square feet of commercial space. The entrances to the development would come from Route 70 and Colonial Drive.

On Feb. 8, the Department of Environmental Protection listened to residents who complained about the impact this would have on the environment, as well as on schools and traffic.

On Feb. 23, the DEP issued letters noting deficiencies in Hovsons’ plan and asking for more information. Essentially, the proposal was deemed incomplete. It has to be complete before the DEP can issue a formal decision.

The DEP wants certain parts of the plan addressed a certain way, and they want more studies done. Some of the deficiencies noted are extremely technical, with statements like “BEP’s Air Quality Analysis for Intersections guidance document states an atmospheric stability of D should be used in urban areas.”

The letter did note some problems in lay terms, such as:

  • The intersection with Route 37 and Colonial Drive, and the off-ramps associated with it, are so close that they could affect air quality. Hovsons study has these intersections studied separately.
  • Although the proposal is for 40,000 square feet of commercial space, 50,000 square feet of plans is shown.
  • Northern pine snake and corn snake dens have been located on the site of the proposed access road from Colonial Drive. Additional animal surveys are required, and if the dens are active in spring, then the plan might have to change.
  • A survey must be done for the sickle-leaved golden aster.
  • Another survey must be done of the wetlands for the Knieskern’s beaked rush, a threatened plant.
  • Changes would be needed for culverts or tunnels for the snakes to travel through the area.
  • Remediation plans need more detail, or they do not conform. These are for a leaking transformer pad and other spots.
  • Stormwater management plans need to be changed.
  • Traffic plans need to be analyzed using different models (the DEP is only interested in air quality in reference to traffic, not how crowded roads are).
  • There are 23.55 acres that are over the limit for the entire property’s impervious space. Impervious area is anything that is built upon by something, like buildings or asphalt, that doesn’t let in water. Some of the impervious cover plans need more detail.

It is important to note that the DEP didn’t turn down the application. Rather, they just deemed that the application is incomplete. They can’t review it until they have all the information.

The DEP, Hovsons, the Pinelands Commission, and Manchester Township agreed to a settlement in 2004. This would have been for 2,200 homes, with a development of 995.4 acres, with 6,179.7 acres in the property to be preserved.