CU Reporter August/September 2003

Thursday, September 18, 2003
Millville Public Library, Gant Room
6:30 p.m.-8:30
NOTE: this is the third Thursday as opposed to the second due to scheduling conflicts and the beginning of the school year.

By Jane Morton Galetto, President Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc.

OspreyJane recently created an internet photo essay about the maturation of osprey from Eggs to Flight. She will present some highlights of the marvels of these 10 weeks of growth. The drama of both nest failures and successes in the Maurice River Osprey Colony will be the subject of this presentation.

We will also get a glimpse of other additions to the Citizens United website.

Land Use Board Updates
Since our last meeting there have been two rather disappointing outcomes on the land use front. Maurice River Township’s land use board, after a year of laborious review, voted to allow applicant Mt. Union to construct a cell tower. The tower will be visible from a number of points on the river and is expected to be very visible from the west bank. We are disappointed and have not yet decided what our next step should be. However, it is important to note that the board devoted an enormous amount of time reviewing this applicant. We did not agree with their decision but we were very impressed by their deliberative process. A special accolade should be given to board solicitor James Seeley who allowed great latitude during the explorative stages. On a positive note the application originally called for a 198’ tower which was reduced to 135’, expandable to 155’. This would not have been a likely outcome had it not been for CU’s objections and the environmental commission/Township’s having adopted a cell tower ordinance. Finally, appeal is still an option that is being considered.

Millville’s planning board really outdid themselves in approving a General Development Plan (GDP) for the Conectiv/Holly Farm property which includes 900 homes on 200 acres, a 200-acre golf course, and a 900 acre-preserve. Due either to confusion, or to purposeful misinformation, conservation groups were under the impression that this would be a presentation rather than an open hearing. To the contrary this was the public’s chance to address the overall concepts regarding this proposal. We were able to put an objection on record on the behalf of CU, NJ Audubon, NJ Conservation Foundation, Environmental Defense , Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, NJ Environmental Federation, American Littoral Society, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, NJ Public Interest Research Group, NJ Association of Environmental Commissions, and Delaware Riverkeeper Network. These organizations have made their objections known in Trenton as well. We have had a long history of advocating that this site be preserved in its entirety. The conservation organizations jointly contend that this proposal represents sprawl at its worse. The property has one of the densest populations of threatened and endangered species in the region if not the state, is bordered by two wild and scenic rivers, is surrounded by protected property and lies in the most remote part of rural Millville. It is also part of the same contiguous forest which was delisted from consideration as a hazardous waste entombment facility based on “the impact of development alone” on the unique populations of threatened and endangered species found there. Remarkably, the board didn’t even entertain public comment until 10 p.m. after a lengthy and very professional presentation by the applicant. The developer is to be saluted for having worked with The Nature Conservancy in trying to mitigate the adverse impacts of their proposed development on the species on site. It is unlikely this collaboration would have taken place if it were not for our history of promoting protection. Green Acres has sought to purchase the property, but planning board members Mayor Jim Quinn and Commissioner Joe Derella were very clear that Green Acres protection was not desired by the City because they see the property as a source of potential tax ratables. There are a number of hurdles for this development to clear before it breaks ground. It is yet to be seen if they can meet these challenges. Clearly, it is disheartening to see local political support in the face of such strong and prominent environmental opposition.

Cumberland County Improvement Authority Environmental Enhancement Grant
Cumberland County Improvement Authority has an Environmental Enhancement Grant Program which assists organizations in preserving,and improving the environment in Cumberland County. The Authority awarded Citizens United $18,000+ to facilitate the reprinting of Down Jersey: Celebrating Our Sense of Place Teacher’s Curriculum. A special thank you to the Authority for helping us to continue with this project, as well as for implementing a comprehensive environmental education program in waste management for local schools!

At long last we seem to be approaching the printing of our poster for the Down Jersey: Celebrating Our Sense of Place Teacher’s Curriculum. The purpose of the poster is to make teachers and students aware of this learning tool. The curriculum highlights the wonders of the Delaware Bayshore’s cultural landscape, and features the East Point Lighthouse as its primary visual. On the back teachers can see the key components the lessons focus upon – natural history, cultural / architectural history, maritime history, and agriculture.

Annual Appeal
We send out our annual appeal letters in two batches. Our members typically donate in the first six months or the last six months of the year. We wish to thank you for your continued generosity. If you have not donated in a the past few years please do consider helping out! Send your annual donation to CU, PO 474, Millville, NJ 08332

The No Wake River Less than 200’ signs are now in place on both the Menantico and Manumuskin Rivers. Because of their narrow and shallow character these rivers are restricted to being wake-free by NJ statute. Our members have simply opted to help remind boaters of their responsibility in this regard. This is an effort to lessen erosion and damage to vegetation. Thank you to the property owners and volunteers who hung these signs!

Jost Scholar Mathew PustizziJost Scholarship
This year’s Connie Jost Scholar is Mathew Pustizzi, a Vineland High School senior. You likely caught the local publicity about his award. As a further recognition of the Jost Scholarship awardees we have added a gallery to our website where we can post examples of their artwork. Thus far two receipients have taken advantage of this opportunity.

CU on the River!