Bridgewater quarry operator Stavola to donate 212 acres, pay over 4K to settle wetlands damage suit | Science updates | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

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Bridgewater quarry operator Stavola to donate 212 acres, pay over $154K to settle wetlands damage suit

njdeplogo_optAcreage will help protect Barnegat Bay watershed

Another 212 acres in the Barnegat Bay watershed will be permanently preserved under the terms of a settlement between the state Department of Environmental Protection and a Bridgewater quarry owner to settle a 7-year-old dispute over alleged disturbance of more than six acres of wetlands and buffer areas in Somerset County.

The agreement, signed by both sides this month, calls for Stavola Construction Materials Inc. to mitigate for the alleged loss of 6.59 acres of wetlands on its Bridgewater property by donating 85 acres along the Toms River in Ocean County, including 60 acres in Toms River and 25 acres in Manchester.

Stavola must also donate 127 acres in Jackson,Ocean County, which is located in the headwaters of the Metedeconk River, and pay a penalty of $154,860.

"The land that is being preserved is important to the water ecosystems in the Barnegat Bay watershed and will be valuable in the state's efforts to restore and maintain the ecology of the bay,'' DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said Wednesday. "Preservation of these key tracts in the Barnegat Bay watershed will aid in the state's continuing efforts to restore and protect the bay, which is one of the DEP's five priority goals and part of Governor Christie's long-term Comprehensive 10-point Barnegat Bay Restoration Plan.''

More than 3,000 acres in the Barnegat Bay watershed have been preserved since Christie announced his plan in December 2010, Martin said, and the DEP has targeted more than 30,000 acres in that watershed for preservation.

The acreage approved for preservation in this settlement exceeds the amount of mitigated acreage normally required by the state's Freshwater Wetlands Mitigation Council, which reviewed and voted to approve the donation last week.

Stavola must restrict the 212 acres from future development and donate the deed-restricted parcels in question to Ocean County, whose freeholder board is expected to soon finalize acceptance of the tracts. As part of the settlement, once the donations are made Stavola's quarry activity on the 6.59 acres in question in Bridgewater may proceed.

"This settlement would satisfy Stavola's mitigation requirement, avoid the cost of protracted litigation, and make a significant contribution toward the protection and restoration of Barnegat Bay,'' DEP Assistant Commissioner for Compliance and Enforcement Wolf Skacel said. "It also provides a unique opportunity to combine a proposed land donation with existing preserved open space and protects the ecological integrity of the existing open space by eliminating the prospect of future adjacent development.''

The case dates back to 2005 when the DEP alleged Stavola violated the state's Freshwater Protection Act and Flood Hazard Area Control Act in connection with its quarry activities, including construction of a quarry road and two stream culvert crossings.

In the agreement, Stavola does not admit any liability or wrongdoing in the matter.

To read a copy of the proposed settlement, which includes specific lots and blocks for the donated land, visit:

http://www.nj.gov/dep/docs/stavola-stip.pdf

—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

 

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