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Public Hearings
FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE FEBRUARY 26, 2004 MOA WITH THE SOUTH JERSEY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE FEBRUARY 26, 2004 MOA WITH THE SOUTH JERSEY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

Tuesday, March 19

The South Jersey Transportation Authority (the “Authority”) has requested an amendment of the February 26, 2004 Memorandum of Agreement (the “2004 MOA”), between it and the Pinelands Commission (the “Commission”) which authorized certain short-term projects at the Atlantic City International Airport. The Proposed Amendment would eliminate the seasonal mowing restriction contained within the Environmental Commitments, Attachment 3, to the 2004 MOA and permit the Authority to mow the grass within the Grassland Conservation and Management Area located at the airport. The Authority has submitted documentation, including letters from the FAA, USDA and the Commander of the New Jersey Air National Guard stationed at the airport substantiating airport safety concerns resulting from the presence of the Grassland Conservation Management Area at the airport.

The purpose of the hearing is to elicit comment on the Proposed Amendment. The current draft of the Proposed Amendment provides for the Authority to, upon execution of the Proposed Amendment, place $500,000 in escrow with the Commission pending the Authority’s identification and finalization of additional offsetting measures to compensate for the loss of the Grassland Conservation and Management Area. The Authority has proposed making this escrow payment in order to proceed with mowing while it identifies and finalizes additional offsetting measures. The Commission has indicated its willingness to consider this proposal provided the Authority understands that no Commission approvals will be issued for any pending or future Pinelands development applications for the airport until those offsetting measures are delineated and approved through the execution of a Second Amendment of the 2004 MOA.

The Commission, however, is also requesting comment regarding the following alternative measures:

1)      An escrow payment provided by the Authority to the Commission, at the time of its execution of the Proposed Amendment, determined using an estimate of the potential costs to acquire and preserve approximately 295 acres of suitable, vacant land within the Pinelands Area. Based on historic land acquisition costs for comparable sites, such amount would conservatively be estimated at a minimum $3,000,000. The Authority would also be obligated to create and maintain a smaller scale Grassland Conservation and Management Area, at least 62 acres in size, to compensate for the loss of habitat for the two threatened or endangered grassland bird species at ACY.

2)     A payment by the Authority of $500,000 annually to the Commission, which will be added to the Pinelands Conservation Fund and dedicated to Conservation Planning and Research and Land Acquisition in the Pinelands Area. The Authority would provide the first annual payment upon its execution of the Proposed Amendment. All annual payments would be immediately available for the Commission’s use. The Authority would make such annual payments for a six year period. Additionally, the Authority would be obligated to acquire land for the creation and maintenance of a smaller Grassland Conservation and Management Area(s).

3)     Rather than the alternatives discussed above, the Authority would make a one-time contribution to the Commission, at the time of its execution of the Proposed Amendment, which would be added to the Pinelands Conservation Fund and dedicated to Conservation Planning and Research and Land Acquisition in the Pinelands Area. The amount of such contribution would be based on the costs to acquire a 295 acre site that was suitable for the creation of a new Grassland Conservation Management Area, including not only land acquisition costs, but the costs associated with creation of the required grassland habitat and associated maintenance and monitoring costs.

The Commission may ultimately decide to use one or any combination of these measures.

The public hearing will be conducted on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at the Commission’s offices at 15C Springfield Road, New Lisbon, New Jersey. Written comments may be submitted at the hearing, sent directly to the Pinelands Commission office, 15 Springfield Road, P.O. Box 359, New Lisbon, New Jersey 08064, via facsimile (609) 894-7330, or by clicking here, no later than March 19, 2019.

A copy of the current draft of the Proposed Amendment may be found by clicking here

 

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