Photo Credit: TAPinto Roxbury
By Fred J. Aun
PublishedSeptember 8, 2022 at 5:16 PM
ROXBURY, NJ – Taken by surprise by County Concrete Corp.’s plan to fill in part of a local lake and reroute the Black River, the township recently peppered the state with 22 questions and comments about the project.
The concrete company has asked the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for permission to fill in a section of Rutgers Pond, also known as Sunset Lake. The body of water, created by many years of quarrying, lies on the Roxbury/Mine Hill border adjacent to County Concrete's Kenvil facility.
In its nearly
, County Concrete proposes to spend seven years to 10 years filling in about 16 acres of the 56-acre pond. It wants to use, as fill, “sifted native soils” currently being stored at its Kenvil plant.
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'Additional Land Mass?'
In a letter to the DEP, Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd said town officials have many “questions and concerns with respect to the application” and he asked the state to take Roxbury’s input into consideration prior to the issuance of any permit.
The first question asked in Shepherd’s letter relates to potential uses for the “new land” that would be created.
“The fill activity will enlarge three existing residential developed and zoned properties,” he wrote. “Will the additional land mass provide an opportunity for further development of the properties and/or residential subdivision? Can the new land be taxed (currently farmland assessed) or does any DEP regulation prohibit additional taxation?”
Shepherd’s letter notes County Concrete currently has three quarry/mining/extraction operations taking place in Roxbury. It said the company should be required to complete those operations before winning approval for the new project “so the disruption to adjacent residents can cease” to occur.
“The Township is concerned that fill for these projects will be diverted for the Black River Restoration and the impacts to the Roxbury residents will continue for a longer period,” wrote Shepherd. “The Township is opposed to any material being used for fill which has been generated at some location other than the County Concrete quarrying operations in Roxbury and Mine Hill townships.”
The township also wants to know the source of topsoil that would be used once the fill material is in place. “While the fill material may come from sites in Roxbury or Mine Hill townships, where is the source of topsoil coming from? Organic matter will be needed for plant and seed installation. In addition, clay material is specified to stabilize the channel bed and banks,” says the letter.
Thousands of Trucks
Shepherd says town officials are concerned about truck traffic on local roads. He notes that County Concrete proposes to use nearly 600,000 cubic yards of fill material for the project. “That amount equals approximately 30,000 to 35,000 truckloads or 60,000 to 70,000 truck trips,” says the letter, adding that the use by those trucks of Green Lane would be a big problem.
“Green Lane is a narrow, residential road which is in poor condition and would be heavily damaged by this significant truck traffic,” Shepherd wrote. “As such, Roxbury Township is opposed to the utilization of Green Lane or any other township street which has residential property uses for accessing the site via truck. The Township is concerned with the wear and tear on any road within the township over the course of a 7- to 10-year time frame.”
The letter says Roxbury also “objects to any work at the site, including delivery of material, between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. It asks for details about the “landscape restoration” being proposed, as well as a plan for future site maintenance.
“How are downstream properties protected from flooding and erosion as the stream embankments become established?” Shepherd asks. “Continuous monitoring and maintenance are necessary over the anticipated 7- to 10-year construction period to establish the embankment. The construction duration is concerning since there will be significant time periods where there will not be any construction activity, especially between May 1 and July 31, to protect spawning fish in the pond. Any control measures which have been compromised will have negative sediment deposition downstream of the project area.”
Water Table Worries
The final point raised in Shepherd’s letter relates to the project’s potential impact on private wells in the area. It points out that County Concrete proposes pumping up to 750 gallons of water per minute of water.
“Will pumping lower the water elevation for an extended period?” asks Shepherd. “If so, will there be a negative impact to the existing private wells in the area? Roxbury Township private well owners have, recently, experienced negative impacts from water pumping activities related to County Concrete mining/pumping operations.”
In an email, Shepherd said there has been no direct communication between County Concrete and the township about the project. Town officials have expressed their unhappiness.
"They want to reroute the Black River and that certainly goes through my ward," said Roxbury Deputy Mayor Jaki Albrecht, a Kenvil resident, at the Roxbury Township Council's Aug. 9 meeting. "I'm not pleased with that at all."
At that meeting, both Roxbury Mayor Jim Rilee and Shepherd said the town was taken by surprise by the proposal. "I have spoken with Russ (Stern), our planning director, who is looking at the project as possibly land development, soil moving and something that would go in front of our planning board," Shepherd told the council.
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