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Letter to the Editor: The township majority said ‘yes’

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To the Editor:

Just how is it possible that those allegedly so dedicated to opposing the PennEast Pipeline could be in favor of chemical works at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and a 16-pump gas station on Scotch Road? Are not all three of these new “plans” worth opposing?

Mayor McLaughlin wants you to know that she went to Washington D.C. to fight the PennEast Pipeline.

At the same July 15 meeting of the Hopewell Township Committee, she unveiled the township’s settlement with Deer Valley, LLC. This development on the west side of Scotch Road will likely exceed the population of Hopewell Borough. It will include a new 100-plus-room hotel, a new conference center, new restaurants, which may include a drive-through McDonald’s, and a new 16-pump gas station, designed to serve as a rest stop for I-95 traffic.

It is tragic that the township did not pursue meaningful alternatives.  Instead, they chose to extend sewer service and intensive zoning to these environmentally sensitive lands.

The new developments on the west side of Scotch Road will cumulatively contain 2,150 homes, roughly twice the size of Brandon Farms. 430 will be affordable homes, 125 of which will be age restricted.

With fewer school age children, the financial impact will be somewhat lessened. But even age restricted units have financial impact on township services and the taxes we all pay. The implications for the fire district and emergency services are especially noteworthy.

Hopewell Township’s Master Plan, which sought to protect our groundwater resources, identified the stream headwaters on the west side of Scotch Road as environmentally sensitive. The planning board had to offer its judgement regarding the consistency of this plan with our Master Plan.

Not surprisingly, on July 25 they determined that the plan was inconsistent with the Master Plan. They approved it regardless. Mayor McLaughlin was absent. Her running mate, Courtney Peters-Manning, whose literature reminds us that she is an environmental attorney, voted in favor, as did Township Committee Member Kevin Kuchinski.

The residents of Nursery Road, who rely upon well water, will be in close proximity to the new development and to the new gas station. Planning board officials told us that the gas station will incorporate modern safeguards. That sounds remarkably like the assurances this group gave us about permitting chemical manufacturing at BMS.

If there is ever an accident, the residents will likely have to bear the cost of connecting to public water.

On July 29, the township majority approved the Deer Valley settlement, with only John Hart voting no.  I thank him for his courage.

Cheryl Edwards

Hopewell Township

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