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Major Plumsted Sprawl Development Hearing On Tuesday July 5

Sprawl destroys rural character and will not revitalize downtown New Egypt

Homeowners subsidize developer & pay to build, connect to & operate new sewer system

I don’t think Plumstead would be jumping up and down for joy to have 450 homes built here, if there wasn’t an over-riding need for a sewer system ~~~ Robert Calabero, Lennar (6/21/16)

The Lennar Development Corporation is seeking a “General Development Plan” (GDP) approval from the Plumsted Land Use Board (Board) for a 454 unit development on an approximately 180 acre parcel of active farmland adjacent to the Crosswicks Creek, known as “Greenbriar at Crosswicks”.

The proposed development is intended to finance the new sewage treatment plant and sewer system, allegedly necessary to spur downtown revitalization of New Egypt.

Somehow, Plumsted officials managed to get an active farm mapped into a designated “Downtown Redevelopment Zone” – a blatant abuse of the intent of the NJ Redevelopment Law, which targets blighted properties and promotes public subsidies to private redevelopers.

During the initial presentation of the development to the Board on June 21, 2016 (see set up story), there were some remarkable things said – including physical threat by the Board Chairman and verbal threats from the Lennar spokesman.

*(The Chairman also interrupted my testimony and made 2 significant factual errors that must be corrected in the record.  The first regards NJ DEP stormwater recharge requirements @NJAC 7:8-5.4; 5.5 and 5.6, which he mistakenly claimed were Pinelands requirements that did not apply. The second error was the Chairman’s claim that the law prohibited the Board from considering fiscal impacts. Lennar’s team made a legal error via a false challenge of my “standing” to testify because I was not a resident. That too must be corrected in the record.) More to follow on all that in a future post.

There were also some amazing statements by the Lennar project team.

The project manager and spokesperson for Lennar, Tri-State Regional Manager Mr. Robert Calabero, made the “real” objective perfectly clear in his amazingly revealing testimony to the Board on June 21 in this exchange, provided under sworn oath: (verbatim, based on a recording of the hearing I obtained via OPRA. Emphases are mine, based on inflection of Calaberos’ voice. MP3 provided upon request, I am trying to post it):

Question: As the redeveloper here, how do you think this project integrates with the goals of upgrading and revitalizing the downtown area?

Response by Calabero: Well, the town, in my judgement, needs this project in order to fund what it really needs, which is a sewer system. And that’s really the reason why I think we’re here.

I don’t think Plumstead would be jumping up and down for joy to have 450 homes built here, if there wasn’t an over-riding need for a sewer system to help them revitalize their downtown and to help improve the vitality of the waterbodies they have.

So, with that said, they put a lot of work and effort into getting to a point where its possible to have a sewer system, and we’re happy to be a partner with them and to try to make it financially feasible for them to execute.

In other words, Calabero virtually admitted that the people of Plumsted would normally oppose such massive new sprawl development, if not for a desperate water quality problem due to failing downtown septics and cesspools and the false promise of redevelopment (and implied subsidies to construct the new sewer plant).

Confirming our point about DEP reversing over 20 years of sound watershed planning and increasingly stringent “anti degradation policy” under the Clean Water Act by discouraging new sewage treatment plants on low flowing streams to serve new sprawl development on farmlands, Mr. Calabero stated he had 30 years of professional experience, and that the recently issued DEP sewage treatment plant permit was “the first of its kind” that he was aware of in his entire career.

At the hearing, I testified and made 17 specific recommendations, most of which were rejected by the Chairman of the Board as outside the scope of the Board’s jurisdiction or otherwise “prohibited by law” (that is a quote by the Chairman in response to my testimony on the economic and fiscal impacts of the sewer plan and proposed development.) I’ll post on these points in future.

But for now, I just want to provide some information that those concerned about this project can use to pose questions to the Board and/or to flag deficiencies in the Lennar GDP application and/or urge the Board to reject or modify the Lennar proposed General Development Plan (GDP).

Here are the relevant purposes – i.e. the goals and objectives of the NJ Municipal Land Use Law (NJSA 40:55D-1 et sq.).

Note the broad consideration given to energy and natural resources, the explicit objective to “n. To promote utilization of renewable energy resources” and the equally broad objective of protecting the environment.

That broad language means that Lennar and the Board must consider and address things like climate change (greenhouse gas emission and adaptation to projected impacts, like extreme weather as a “natural disaster”), carbon footprint, mitigation or offset requirements for emissions, energy efficiency, inclusion of solar and geothermal renewable energy resources, electric car infrastructure, water conservation, recycling, water quality and flow impacts on Crosswicks Creek, et al.

a. To encourage municipal action to guide the appropriate use or development of all lands in this State, in a manner which will promote the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare;

b. To secure safety from fire, flood, panic and other natural and man-made disasters;

c. To provide adequate light, air and open space;

d. To ensure that the development of individual municipalities does not conflict with the development and general welfare of neighboring municipalities, the county and the State as a whole;

e. To promote the establishment of appropriate population densities and concentrations that will contribute to the well-being of persons, neighborhoods, communities and regions and preservation of the environment;

f. To encourage the appropriate and efficient expenditure of public funds by the coordination of public development with land use policies;

g. To provide sufficient space in appropriate locations for a variety of agricultural, residential, recreational, commercial and industrial uses and open space, both public and private, according to their respective environmental requirements in order to meet the needs of all New Jersey citizens;

h. To encourage the location and design of transportation routes which will promote the free flow of traffic while discouraging location of such facilities and routes which result in congestion or blight

j. To promote the conservation of historic sites and districts, open space, energy resources and valuable natural resources in the State and to prevent urban sprawl and degradation of the environment through improper use of land;

[k. – l.]

m. To encourage coordination of the various public and private procedures and activities shaping land development with a view of lessening the cost of such development and to the more efficient use of land;

n. To promote utilization of renewable energy resources

Because Lennar is seeking a GDP approval, here are the relevant requirements in the MLUL for a General Development Plan (GDP) – note especially the “fiscal report” requirements in 40:55D-45.2 j. below.

The fiscal impacts on taxpayers and ratepayers and users of the new sewer system must be considered.

The total costs of the sewer system are not known by the community. The total costs of financing the system through bonds and total annual debt service payments are not known by the community.

The costs to homeowners and businesses to connect to the sewer system – known as a “connection fee” – and monthly sewer bills are not known by the community.

The financial risk of relying heavily on Lennar’s development to finance this system are not known to the community.

I am now reviewing the complex 90 page Redevelopment Agreement with Lennar, which suggests that Lennar will pay $19,500 per unit housing at the time those housing units receive their final Certificate of Occupancy (CO).

I have not yet seen how these payments cover the total capital and operating costs of the complete new sewer plant and sewer system project and the debt service on the bonds, from a cash flow perspective, or how these costs and financial risks are allocated to the community in the form of user fees, connection fees, and/or local property taxes.

What I do know is that these fiscal issues and financial risks are relevant and within the scope of the Board’s jurisdiction, because the GDP section of the MLUL includes

j. A fiscal report describing the anticipated demand on municipal services to be generated by the planned development and any other financial impacts to be faced by municipalities or school districts as a result of the completion of the planned development.

See relevant GDP provisions below (emphases are mine):

40:55D-45.2. Contents of general development plan. A general development plan may include, but not be limited to, the following:


b. A circulation plan showing the general location and types of transportation facilities, including facilities for pedestrian access, within the planned development and any proposed improvements to the existing transportation system outside the planned development;

c. An open space plan showing the proposed land area and general location of parks and any other land area to be set aside for conservation and recreational purposes and a general description of improvements proposed to be made thereon, including a plan for the operation and maintenance of parks and recreational lands;

d. A utility plan indicating the need for and showing the proposed location of sewage and water lines, any drainage facilities necessitated by the physical characteristics of the site, proposed methods for handling solid waste disposal, and a plan for the operation and maintenance of proposed utilities;

e. A storm water management plan setting forth the proposed method of controlling and managing storm water on the site;

f. An environmental inventory including a general description of the vegetation, soils, topography, geology, surface hydrology, climate and cultural resources of the site, existing man-made structures or features and the probable impact of the development on the environmental attributes of the site;

g. A community facility plan indicating the scope and type of supporting community facilities which may include, but not be limited to, educational or cultural facilities, historic sites, libraries, hospitals, firehouses, and police stations;

h. A housing plan outlining the number of housing units to be provided and the extent to which any housing obligation assigned to the municipality pursuant to P.L. 1985, c. 222 (C. 52:27D-301 et al.) will be fulfilled by the development;

i. A local service plan indicating those public services which the applicant proposes to provide and which may include, but not be limited to, water, sewer, cable and solid waste disposal;

j. A fiscal report describing the anticipated demand on municipal services to be generated by the planned development and any other financial impacts to be faced by municipalities or school districts as a result of the completion of the planned development. The fiscal report shall also include a detailed projection of property tax revenues which will accrue to the county, municipality and school district according to the timing schedule provided under subsection k. of this section, and following the completion of the planned development in its entirety;

k. A proposed timing schedule in the case of a planned development whose construction is contemplated over a period of years, including any terms or conditions which are intended to protect the interests of the public and of the residents who occupy any section of the planned development prior to the completion of the development in its entirety;

More to follow – please attend and speak up at the hearing on July 5 – if only to ask questions!!!!

* Denotes an update

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