Holmdel, NJ - Concerned Holmdel residents will launch a petition drive at tomorrow’s Township Committee meeting to support the governing body’s fight against the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) plan to allow the entire Lucent and Garden State Arts Center tracts to be sewered. The petitions will be presented to the DEP at its June 6 public hearing in Manalapan.

“The Township Committee negotiated in good faith with the DEP and the County,” said Mayor Patrick Impreveduto. “At the 11th hour, the DEP reversed itself and opened up the entire tracts to sewer service.”

In 2001, the DEP and Monmouth County Board of Freeholders took over authority for municipal wastewater management plans, which include maps delineating where sewer service is permitted. The preliminary plan, released at a public meeting last August, restricted sewer service on the Lucent and Arts Center tracts to existing buildings, in agreement with the Holmdel Township Committee’s and concerned residents’ stance on the matter. On May 2, 2011, the DEP released a final proposed map that allowed the entire properties to be sewered.

“We know that it’s very difficult to deter development on environmentally-sensitive lands once sewer service is permitted and expanded,” said Committeeman Rocco Pascucci. “We have sent notice to the DEP that we intend to defend Holmdel against the State’s heavy-handed infringement upon the rights of Holmdel citizens to determine what is best for our community.”

“Holmdel Township has, over the past 40 years, consistently fought to protect our headwaters and wetlands through controlled zoning ordinances, wastewater management and Master Plans,” Impreveduto added. “To have the State, through the very department responsible for protecting the vital Swimming River watershed, come in and tell us that we should allow the equivalent of excessive blacktop coverage at an important source of drinking water for thousands of Monmouth County residents, is preposterous.”

The NJDEP’s own rules are designed to protect water quality while directing growth away from environmentally-sensitive wetlands and forests to allow for groundwater recharge by maintaining the base flow of our streams. “By keeping sewer infrastructure out of the Southern Slope, Holmdel has refrained from exporting water out of the watershed and dumping it in the Atlantic Ocean,” said former Chair of the Holmdel Environmental Commission Roberta Kaufman.

“This area of Holmdel is important to all residents,” Pascucci continued. “The rural character of our open spaces helps maintain property values for homeowners. It’s where our children go to elementary, middle and high school, and many play sports, go sledding, run cross country, and learn about Holmdel’s history.”  

Speaking of open spaces, concerned residents are also challenging the inclusion Holmdel Park, Allocco Park, The Neil Waackaack Preserve, and Labbe Park in the map.

“Adding capacity through sewer infrastructure invites overuse of these already fragile environments,” Impreveduto said. “We want to protect these enclaves for our children and grandchildren.”

Impreveduto and Pascucci encourage all homeowners to attend Thursday’s 7:00 pm Township Committee meeting, where concerned residents will have petitions ready for signing. Contact Penny Towey at pltowey@gmail.com if you can’t make the meeting, or want to sign or canvas in your own neighborhood.

Attend the DEP public hearing to show your support as Township officials and concerned residents speak out against the DEP plan. The hearing begins at 6:30pm on June 6 at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters, 125 Symmes Drive, Manalapan.