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DEP Rejects Lakewood’s Massive Development Plan


TRENTON NJ (CNBNewsnet)--In a Public Notice in the New Jersey Register, The New Jersey DEP has rejected Lakewood Township’s proposed regional centers that would have doubled the population in the township and caused over development. The Department has determined that the Township has not comprehensively addressed the need for an adequate public water supply to serve its planned growth and has determined that they are inconsistent with the purposes of CAFRA and the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Rules and are rejected for use in determining impervious cover limits and vegetative cover requirements for CAFRA regulated developments.

“The DEP stood up for to the environment and good planning by rejecting Lakewood’s Coastal Zone Amendment that would have doubled the town’s population in an overdeveloped community. DEP’s rejection to the plan will help control the overdevelopment that is occurring and protect natural resources better. The Township wanted to build residential and commercial development that violated coastal land use regulations. This project would have been an environmental disaster. Residents would experience more flooding and pollution run off. The Barnegat Bay would have turned into a giant retention basin,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.” “This is an environmentally sensitive area who is over-burdened with development and traffic and we should not be adding to that. It’s good the DEP stepped in and prevented this plan from going forward. Now the environment can be protected and the residents do not have to experience more flooding, traffic, and pollution."

Lakewood Township wanted to revise their initial petition seeking Planning Area boundary changes and new Center, Core, and Node boundaries to more closely reflect the Township’s planning goals and objectives. The Downtown Regional Center plan included a diversity of services, retail shops, and restaurants, a variety of housing types and range of affordability. The land use plan for Cedarbridge Town Center included a mix of residential, commercial, office development, and a new boulevard and parkway linking the Cedarbridge Town Center to the Oak Street Core, and a new municipal complex. This plan is a high-density project with 90% impervious cover at 30 units per acre development.  

“This high-density plan could have added almost 100,000 people in an already overdeveloped area, making it the third largest city in New Jersey. The plan would have impacted storm water runoff, over pumped the aquifers, and destroyed Barnegat Bay. Important forests and wildlife habitats of the Pinelands National Reserve would have been destroyed if the DEP did not reject the proposed development. If we keep over-developing this area, Lakewood could become a Brooklyn by the sea. With this project, taxpayers would have ended up paying more to deal with increased traffic on Rt. 9 where there are already traffic problems. There would be more impervious cover added to the Barnegat Bay Watershed that cannot handle the additional stormwater runoff,” said Jeff Tittel. “The township should not be building more residential and commercial buildings because it clearly goes against the Coastal Areas Facilities Review Act as the Coastal Zone Management Rules.”

The overall net change in the extent of Planning areas is a decrease in the extent of the Suburban Planning Area of 1,566 acres, the elimination of the Fringe Planning Area, which had encompassed 1,394 acres, and a 2,975 acre increase in the extent of Environmentally Sensitive Planning Area. The department has evaluated the boundaries and determined that they are inconsistent with the purpose of CAFRA N.J.S.A 13:19-1 et seq., and the Coastal Zone Management Rules (CZM Rules), N.J.A.C 7:7 are rejected because the Township has not adequately addressed existing and projected needs for public potable water supplies.

“Stopping Lakewood Township’s coastal zone amendment will help stop additional pollution and runoff into the Barnegat Bay while helping curb over-development and additional traffic in this area. Lakewood will still grow, however the population could have doubled under this proposed amendment,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is a big win for now, but we will have to watch to see if the township comes back with another proposal. It is important that the DEP did their job in protecting the environment by rejecting the proposal. We will keep vigilant and make sure this area is protected and not threatened with more over-development.”