It's on us. Share your news here.

Eagleswood Dredging Plan Spurs DEP Lawsuit

Posted on April 28, 2016

By Amanda Oglesby,

A group of Eagleswood residents and environmentalists filed a notice of appeal on Friday, Earth Day, in court against the state Department of Environmental Protection, hoping to stop the creation of a river and bay dredge materials disposal facility near houses on Dock Road.

The move is the latest step in a nine-year legal battle between local homeowners, environmentalists and the state department.

In the recent appeal, residents, environmentalists and state officials are locked in an argument over whether the state Department of Transportation needs DEP permits to move ahead with the project.

Residents allege the DEP failed to block the Department of Transportation from clearing the planned dredge materials site, despite canceling permits for the project. The DEP is arguing that the Department of Transportation has its own permits, and has no need for DEP permits to clear the land.

“The DEP kind of threw in the towel on their case, but in the wings is the DOT looking to move this project forward,” said Michael Pierro, 61, of Dock Road, who is among the residents who filed the appeal.

Pierro and his neighbors say the dredge materials disposal site, where river and bay sludge would be dried before being shipped out for use as fill in construction projections, would smell. The facility’s truck traffic could damage the neighborhood’s specialized pressurized sewer system, he said. Dock Road residents insist dredge spoils would also drive down local property values.

“Nobody would want to buy a house that’s next to a landfill,” Pierro said.

Help clean up the awful things found on NJ beaches

In 2012, the homeowners urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny permits for the facility, saying 12-foot dikes around the dredge materials would ruin views and depress home values. They argued at the time that if Long Beach Island residents could be compensated for losing their views as a result of dunes, that the Army Corps should carefully evaluate whether building a dredge materials facility by their homes would be worth the cost.

Two environmental groups, Environment New Jersey and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, have joined the residents’ fight.

Bill Potter, the plaintiff’s lead attorney said the DEP was relaxing controls over such dredging materials disposal facilities, which he described in a prepared statement as “a kind of open air landfill for dumping frequently toxic dredge spoils. Due to their environmental harms, no CDF (Confined Disposal Facility) should be allowed anywhere near residential or recreational areas, but that is exactly what these new regulations seek to allow.”

“Regarding this project in particular, contrary to the false claims and misinformation being spread by the attorney for the residents and environmental groups, there has never been toxic waste or contaminated materials disposed of at the West Creek CDF on Dock Road in Eagleswood,” Stephen Shapiro, spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said in an email. “This site has been a confined disposal facility… for more than 40 years, having been used as early as 1972. It is likely the CDF (confined disposal facility) has been there much longer than the few residents who are now concerned about property values.”

20 acres burned in Jackson fire

Earlier this month, the Department of Environmental Protection terminated its permit that would have dredged Westecunk Creek and allowed the dredge materials facility on Dock Road. Instead, the department transferred the project to the Department of Transportation’s Office of Maritime Resources. According to DEP documents, a new permit will be required when dredging begins.

In the complaint, Dock Road residents argued that the DEP failed to enforce conditions on the site’s use that were outlined in previous permits.

EDITORIAL: Open-space diversion a travesty

But according to the DEP, their argument was “moot” because the Department of Transportation had its own permits to clear the land for the dredge spills site.

Shapiro said the Department of Transportation will soon seek permits from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers to begin dredging.

The dredging project would pull more than 138,000 cubic yards of sediment from Westecunk Creek and spread it over seven acres of wetlands near Dock Road, according to the DEP. The site was used for the purpose previously in 1972 and 1983, according to DEP documents.

Ospreys found dead in Brick


It's on us. Share your news here.
Submit Your News Today

Join Our
Click to Subscribe