Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sea Bright Petitions Governor to re-open Bridge Hearings

WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Sea Bright has consistently supported, protected and preserved the historic sites and environmental distinctiveness of the Borough's community and surroundings; and,

WHEREAS, all proposals to develop and/or change the use of lands and structures should respect the procedures and ordinances of the municipality that they are located within; and,

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Department of Transportation has virtually ignored the concerns of and has been unresponsive to requests by the citizens and governing body of Sea Bright to consider alternatives to the DOT's plan to demolish the historic route 36 drawbridge that connects the Borough of Sea Bright to the Borough of Highlands; and,

WHEREAS, the Borough of Sea Bright will suffer undue hardship and irreparable injury to public and personal property located within the Borough if the proposed new fixed span bridge is approved for construction by jurisdictional state agencies and authorities:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Mayor and Council of Borough of Sea Bright hereby petitions New Jersey State Governor Jon Corzine to issue an executive / administrative order to stay all decisions to build a new Route 36 fixed span bridge over the Shrewsbury River, to re-open the public hearing and to provide an extended public comment period to review, explore and discuss many issues regarding the bridge, including but not limited to:

- The NDOT plan does not minimally comply with NEPA rules and regulations for "categorical exclusion" because the $14 million in design fees for the new bridge was inappropriate and premature.

- "Agencies shall not commit resources prejudicing selection of alternatives before making a final decision (Sec. 1506.1)."

- Environmental impact statements in the coastal area and in endangered species nesting areas were not conducted in violation of the Endangered Species and the Coastal Zone Management Acts. Environmental Impact Statements shall serve as the means of assessing the environmental impact of proposed agency actions, rather than justifying decisions already made (Sec. 1502.2 Implementation (g)).
- An environmental impact statement is to serve as an action-forcing device to insure that the policies and goals defined in the Act are infused into the ongoing programs and actions..... It shall provide full and fair discussion of significant environmental impacts and shall inform decision makers and the public of the reasonable alternatives which would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment. Agencies shall focus on significant environmental issues and alternatives.... shall be supported by evidence that the agency has made the necessary environmental analyses. An environmental impact statement is more than a disclosure document. It shall be used in conjunction with other relevant material to plan actions and make decisions. (Sec. 1502.1 Purpose). The public has been unfairly denied the opportunity to review and comment on an Environmental Impact Statements that "shall state how alternatives considered in an EIS and decisions based on it will or will not achieve the requirements of sections 101 and 102(1) of the Act and other environmental laws and policies (Sec. 1502.2 Implementation(d))
- The NDOT categorical exclusion for an EIS on the Route 36 drawbridge does not minimally comply with the conditions defined in 44 CFR 10.8(d). "Categorical exclusion" means a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and which have been found to have no such effect in procedures (Sec. 1507.3) and for which, therefore, neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement is required ... 40CFR 1508.4. Categorical exclusions include minor improvements or minor hazard mitigation measures at existing facilities, such as placing riprap at a culvert outlet to control erosion. The unresolved extraordinary circumstances are the presence of protected natural or cultural resources, the proposed action cannot be categorically excluded, and an Environmental Assessment would be required.
- The Endangered Species Act states that if a project involves the known habitat of a threatened or endangered species, the USFWS or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), or both shall be consulted. A comprehensive EIS is requisite in complying with the Endangered Species Act. Topograhicals, to scale maps, areas of disturbance and encroachment in environmentally sensitive and endangered/threatened nesting and breeding areas have not been addressed, reviewed and commented on by the public in the absence of an EIS.
- The September 30, October 1, and October 2, 2002 "informal public information meetings did not provide comprehensive documentation on any of the aforementioned requisite data and issues.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in the interest of fairness, to best serve the public interest, to preserve the rights of municipalities and it's citizens to be consulted and participate in public hearing process, the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Sea Bright petition New Jersey's Governor Jon Corzine to issue an executive /administrative order to stay all proceedings and approvals until complete information including an EIS be made available for public review and a new public hearing with an extended comment period be provided for and noticed to all interested parties.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a certified copy of this Resolution be sent to the Office of Administrative Law, The New jersey State Attorney General and the Office of the New Jersey State Public Advocate

No comments: