SC Opposes Township's Quarry Redevelopment Plan By: New Jersey SIerra Club & Friends of Stop the Quarry Plan, LLC

Bernard Township has proposed a redevelopment plan for the 183-acre Millington Quarry. The plan includes a hotel, housing, restaurants, retail, a farm and a lake that would fill in the deepest quarrying pit on the property. As a result of 100 years of mining operations and landfill brought in after the closing, the site contains at least 45 acres of confirmed contamination, including fertilizers, lead, aluminum and silver. The New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club opposes the Township’s high- density plan because it would encourage overdevelopment on a contaminated site.

“We oppose this project because we are concerned about the contamination and that the project is too large for the site. Given the history of the property, we are concerned it is not cleaned up properly for residential development. The town needs to go back and plan for the site so that it is first properly cleaned up and restored and then come up for a proposal for development that would fit in with the character of the community. We should not be be pushing for such a large development on a superfund site,”said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The redevelopment plan encourages sprawl and overdevelopment when it should instead focus on things like public transportation. That’s why the town needs to go back and do it right.”

The draft plan divides the area into four districts — Agritourism and Recreation District, Cottage Residential District, Mixed Residential District and Mixed Use District. The Agritourism and Recreation District would include an organic farm and trails along with a 15,000-square-foot restaurant overlooking the lake. The Cottage Residential District will include 28 units of townhouses and 47 single-family detached dwellings. The Mixed Residential District will include 30 units of flats and 45 units of townhouses. Lastly, the Mixed Use District will include a hotel/rental suite that will have between 100 to 250 sleeping rooms/suites, 60,000 square feet of office space, 140,000 square feet of retail space, 50 units of apartments and 35 units of affordable apartments.

“The Township Council should step back and create a cleanup plan for the quarry, with input from the town. There are contaminants at the site, in both the soil and water, and no one wants to see Basking Ridge become a toxic community,” says Gary Frederick, a Sierra Club organizer who is also chair of its New Jersey Raritan Valley Group. “The risk of pollutants running into the Passiac River and affecting nearby communities is also very real.”

Fill samples taken from Millington Quarry indicate higher than standard levels of arsenic, soil contamination, pesticides and lead. Some of the site contaminants will be covered by a 50-acre lake that has been forming as the result of runoff. The site is also flanked by a steep cliff, raising the possibility of erosion and falloff. And with the Passiac River running nearby, contaminated runoff into the water is a real threat. It is doubtful that everything in the quarry water has been remediated. The asbestos dump superfund site project in Long Hill, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, proves the complexity of effectively remediating a site.

The high density plan will contribute to traffic congestion and air pollution for the town. This has negative impacts on both air quality and public health. Planning should include a comprehensive public transportation component, since there are limited roadways leading to the quarry site.

“We are thankful that the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club shares our environmental concerns with the proposed quarry redevelopment in Basking Ridge,” says Laurie Albee, supporter of Friends of Stop the Quarry Plan, LLC. “The Sierra Club’s outstanding work supporting the environment is nationally recognized and we couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

There is a meeting scheduled at 7:00pm on Wednesday, January 24th to decide whether the town will proceed with the quarry plan. People will have an opportunity to speak and a large turnout is expected. The meeting will be held at Ridge High School Performing Arts Center, 268 S Finley Ave, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

The following is the Sierra Club resolution calling for a halt to redevelopment without an approved cleanup plan.


WHEREAS developers in the town of Basking Ridge in Bernards Township, with the approval of the Bernards Township Council, want to build a mixed use development project consisting of up to 235 housing units,215,000 square feet of retail space and a hotel of up to 250 rooms on the contaminated site of the 183-acre former Millington Quarry, and

WHEREAS this site contains commercial fertilizer from landfill brought in by the owner of the quarry that was used to improperly cover soil from the quarry and may now not support vegetation, and

WHEREAS the site contains an expanding lake from runoff that is projected to reach 50 acres and has unacceptably high levels of contaminants, such as lead, Benzo(a)anthracene and metals such as aluminum and silver at the lake bottom, and

WHEREAS the developer envisions this lake for boating and other recreational uses, and

WHEREAS the possibility exists for heavy fertilizer runoff into the lake and surrounding communities, which include the Passaic River, and

WHEREAS the site contains a cliff wall of approximately 200 feet adjacent to a NJ Transit rail line which could possibly have damaging erosion and runoff, and

WHEREAS there is no approved environmental cleanup plan, yet the township is trying to proceed without one, and

WHEREAS a secondary access road to the site is proposed at a NJ Transit train crossing on Pond Hill Road, posing a danger to rail and vehicular traffic, and

WHEREAS there are limited roadways in the area that would be unable to support the greatly expanded traffic into and out of the development, and

WHEREAS there is no public transportation element in the site plan;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club urges that planning for this development be halted until the developers and the Township Council agree on a cleanup plan, which has been subject to open and transparent public hearings, to remove the contaminants from the quarry site and the lake bottom, and to complete the remediation and full restoration plan.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Chapter recommends that no changes to existing zoning rules be made by the Township Council until the approved environmental cleanup is complete, and until a public transportation component is incorporated into the site plan

Created By
Taylor McFarland | Administrative Assistant | NJ Sierra Club

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