Mayors report for May 21st 2012
On Friday May 11th Kyle MeGettrick was laid to rest with full firefighters honor. I want to thank all those who participated and supported the family through Kyle’s ordeal. Once again the people of Barnegat have demonstrated what a really great town that we live in. It’s all about the people and the compassion that they have for each other.
The latest issue of the Sandpaper ran an article,”Walters Lawsuit Prompts Barnegat to rezone Area”, which is full of misstatements. In 2004, Barnegat Township adopted an an ordinance that divided the Ocean Acres section into two zones. One was a residential zone (RCV), where building is prohibited and a residential highland (RHZ), were development is allowed only on lots that exceed 10,000 square feet. This conservation zone decreased the number of build-able lots from 2,000 to 1,250. The zone change was to protect the northern pine snake and other endangered species. Walters objected and entered into an agreement with the Township and the Pineland’s Commission to allow an additional impact study of a 135 lot portion of the conservation zone. The Township received $200,000 from Walters at this time. The Pineland’s Commission ruled in October of 2009 that the 135 lots covering 38 acres did not constitute a threat to wildlife. The Township Committee questioned the validity of the study because it revealed that chemicals were discovered at the snake traps which would keep the snakes away. The Township then voted to reject the rezoning. The Walters Group immediately instituted a lawsuit. Two years later the judge has indicated that we should mediate with Walters due to the fact that the old zoning could be ordered which would allow 165 homes to be built on smaller lots. Obviously the building of 30 more homes is not acceptable. We have since negotiated a series of agreements that will greatly benefit the residents of the Township and meet our legal obligation to the Walters Group.
The Executive Director of the Pineland’s Preservation Alliance, Mr Carlton Montgomery, commented that the Township “caved to the developers”. The job of the Pineland’s Alliance is to prevent any new development, period. The job of the Barnegat Township Committee is to act in the best interest of our residents. Given the fact that that they have no knowledge as to what is being negotiated and what the judge is directing, they should not be commenting at all.
Two other comments were made which are totally off base, especially in this case. Legally you can not unilaterally impose a building moratorium. Secondly, giving back the $200,000 will not stop the building. We would have to buy the 38 acres from the Walters Group and the bidding would probably start at $3,000,000 to $5,000,000, if they would even consider selling.