Without providing any explanation, Lakewood's Township Committee has just authorized an additional $1.2 million bond for a new solid waste transfer station despite that the project is being held up by both the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the State Planning Commission, FAA News has learned.

Township officials have been planning for a number of years to build a Solid Waste Transfer Station, capable of processing 300 tons of municipal waste per day in order to increase the Township's trash pickup capacity. The new station is to be located near the existing Public Works yard.

Currently, as soon as Public Works trash pickup trucks fill up, they need to go directly to the sanitary landfill facility in Manchester Township to unload. As this facility is only open until the early afternoon hours, after hours the Township's trucks need to wait at Public Works until the next morning in order to be able to go to unload at the sanitary landfill facility.

By constructing an in-house Solid Waste Transfer Station, the Township would be able to discharge, compact and then reload into semi trailers 300 tons of municipal solid waste per day. This would then free up the trash trucks to do additional runs without needing to hold them in Public Works until the next morning.

The project requires NJDEP coordination and permits, and Township officials, engineered by Remington & Vernick Engineers, have been working for a number of years on this project.

As previously reported here on FAA News, back in July, the State Planning Commission halted the projects until the Township implements certain infrastructure improvements.

Essentially, as previously reported here on FAA News, back in February 2023, the Township Committee submitted this project as an amendment to the previously approved State Plan Policy Map. Approval of the proposed amendment would allow for an increase in permitted impervious cover and a reduction in vegetative cover requirements.

On December 7, 2017, the State Planning Commission granted the Township State Plan Endorsement for their Master Plan. This endorsement requires biennial reviews of how the Township is improving its infrastructure, including roadways. On October 20, 2022, the the Township’s Professional Planners for this matter, T & M Associates, submitted a report for this biennial review. In addition to the Biennial Review, the Township proposed amendments to the State Plan Policy Map to permit the solid waste transfer station to be constructed with an increase in permitted impervious cover and a reduction in vegetative cover requirements.

The State Planning Commission responded by giving the Township a Final Plan Implementation Agreement which includes items required to address changes in the Municipal Land Use Law, Resiliency and Environmental Justice.

The State Planning Commission stated that out of 56 items in this list, the Township has fully completed 11 items, an additional 16 items are being addressed, however, 29 items remain outstanding.

Therefore, the State Planning Commission has halted approval of the solid waste transfer station until the Township agrees to work on the remaining 29 items in the Plan Implementation Agreement.

The Plan Implementation Agreement items include:

• Implement the use of impact fees when approving new land use developments

• Continue to review the needs of community facilities to determine the need for replacement or additions including, but not limited to: schools, fire substations, police station, highway department and recreational facilities

• Continually prioritize high value open space lands for acquisition. Implement the Open Space Plan Element of the Township Master Plan that identifies parcels for potential acquisition.

• Design, obtain funding and construct the trail network and pedestrian linkages with assistance provided by Environmental Commission.

• Create linkages between open space and recreation sites.

• The Township shall propose a detailed circulation strategy that describes circulation patterns and justifies how these proposals would help enhance mobility without negatively impacting pedestrians. The updated Circulation Element should include a clear statement that recognizes the role of state roads for conveying through rather than local traffic. The plan should provide access to local businesses on local roads. The statement should acknowledge that the State does not have the funds to widen Route 9 in the foreseeable future and that Lakewood has investigated alternative north-south roadways to lessen the traffic congestion on Route 9. It is also important that the plan integrates existing bus and shuttle services to address capacity issues.

• Implement a Parking Study for which the Township already received a State funded grant - Ensure that opportunities for growth do not impede the ability to construct and to effectively address parking. Utilize best transit-oriented development and center-based design strategies.

• Develop an implementable plan to improve Express Bus service along Route 9. 

• Continue to work with NJTPA, NJ DOT and Toms River to address access management planning along Route 9 and other state highways.

• As part of the Circulation Plan update, incorporate a strategy for dealing with retail, commercial or truck freight traffic along state, county and municipal roadways as it relates to existing and future land use patterns.

• As part of the Circulation Plan update, incorporate a strategy to utilize transportation demand management measures for trip reduction where applicable, such as ridesharing, vanpooling, transit and park-and-rides.

• Implement land use controls consistent with the desirable typical section (DTS) for Route 9 in the Access Code. The Township's HD zoning along Route 9 south of downtown provides for setbacks to help preserve a right of way for future Route 9 widening. 

However, based on field observation, there appears to be significant development close to the highway. The Township shall provide copies of variances and other provisions that have allowed for encroaching development. 

• The municipality shall enhance its zoning regulations and building codes to encourage building outside of the flood zone and to minimize construction in flood prone areas to reconstruction of existing buildings. Flood zone area new construction or redevelopment of existing buildings should avoid high density concentration and areas of severe flooding. Placement of critical facilities and utilities in flood zones should be avoided whenever possible. Affordable housing should be sited to avoid flood zone and hazardous areas.

Township officials have not made any public statements as to when they anticipate implementing all of these infrastructure upgrades.

Additionally, the DEP has also held up the project, FAA News has learned.

It's therefore curious why the Township Committee has just authorized an additional $1,224,766 bond towards this project. Essentially this means that we will be paying interest for a number of years before we even have a waste transfer station - if we do ever get the permits for the project.

The Township's planning documents for this project raise a few eyebrows.

The plan proposal documents submitted by the Township stated that a granting of the proposed State Plan Policy Map amendment would be consistent with smart growth principles because it directs development toward existing communities (i.e., locations where there is existing development), which, in turn, maximizes the efficiency of infrastructure investment and service delivery, as well as limits sprawl-type development, and that this project would encourage future residential and non-residential growth by improving service delivery and the ability of the Township to provide an essential service (i.e., solid waste collection and disposal) in support of existing and future development.

The plan proposal documents further state the project would support the implementation and advancement of several land use, utility, and economic development strategies provided in the 2017 Lakewood Township Master Plan including continuing to promote economic prosperity and sound fiscal planning as the improved service delivery and ability of the Township to provide an essential service (i.e., solid waste collection and disposal) that would result from said facility would, in turn, promote economic development of the Township by attracting new non-residential development.

These promises are quite interesting as the Township Department of Public Works currently only picks up trash from residences, nonpublic schools and Downtown businesses, but not any new businesses including industrial uses in the Township, so it's unclear how construction of this Waste Transfer station would promote economic development of the Township by attracting new non-residential development.

Included in this proposed plan amendment which awaits final authorization from the State Planning Commission is a Hatzolah garage which is also planned to be built in this same area.

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