BRICK-The Brick Township MUA has announced their formal opposition of an application submitted by Stavola Industries, LLC for the expansion of the company’s Brick Township asphalt plant. The MUA says the plant is not good for the environment, but Stavola Industries’ owner, Ricky Stavola disagrees with the MUA’s assessment, saying the upgrades to the plant will replace an aging plant that is some fifty-plus years old.
“What we are doing in Brick is replacing the original aging plant that has to be stopped and started many times each day with a new plant that will allow us to reduce the starting and stopping of the plant all day long,” Stavola said. “The new plant is better for the environment and allows us to store the asphalt for delivery without the need to run the plant all day long.”
The MUA however disagrees, claiming the application submitted by Stavola will significantly expand its asphalt manufacturing operations at its plant on Chambers Bridge Road in Brick.
In a press release published by the MUA, the authority said the plant is directly adjacent to the Metedconk River and less than a half mile upstream from the water intake of the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority (Brick Utilities) water treatment plant.
“Brick Utilities supplies all residents of Brick Township and several adjacent towns with drinking water and obtains the majority of the water it treats from the Metedeconk River,” the MUA said in its release. “Any release of pollutants to the air or ground at the site will likely find their way into the Metedeconk River by either directly entering the river or entering the groundwater which makes up most of the river flow.”
Stavola disputes the MUA’s claim as the plant has been running in that location for decades without incident to the township’s drinking water.
“This new plant will run cleaner than what is there now,” Stavola said.
The MUA also cited concerns about floods or accidents at the plant, such as fires and explosions which are not uncommon in the asphalt industry. Any contamination could render the Metedeconk River unusable for drinking water supply for extended periods, although no incidents have occurred to date at the plant.
Stavola also noted that the mining and asphalt operation on the site, which is adjacent to the Garden State Parkway dates back to the late 1950’s, long before any other residential or commercial activity was present in that section of Brick Township. The site was considered remote until the early 1980’s after the township built it’s new municipal complex adjacent to the site. Residential developments began sprouting up along the Metedeconk River in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
“The community grew around our Brick plant,” Stavola said. “The site is environmentally friendly and located along the Garden State Parkway, so truck traffic doesn’t impact the community.”
Stavola also said that the upgraded plant will not increase demand for asphalt or increase traffic because the demand for asphalt is constant.
“Nobody is going to go out and say, let’s buy more asphalt if they don’t need it,” Stavola said, adding that this project only makes producing asphalt at the Brick site more efficient and environmentally friendly.
The Brick MUA contends the plant is a disaster waiting to happen.
“Our professionals have evaluated this proposal and have serious concerns,” said Brick Utilities Chairman Gregory M. Flynn. “The Metedeconk River is the primary source of our water supply. Such a heavy industrial operation on the river just upstream from where we get our drinking water presents substantial risks to our water quality and our operations and we believe this would not be in the best interest of our customers.”
The MUA said the asphalt plant is located in the Rural Residential (RR-1) Zone, which is a low density residential zone that does not allow for industrial uses like asphalt plants. Operation of the current plant was “grandfathered in” because it was built prior to establishment of the zoning ordinance. It has been able to continue operating in its current state with the expectation that it will eventually reach the end of its useful life and be replaced with a non-industrial activity that conforms with the Rural Residential Zoning.
“Stavola Industries’ application to the Board of Adjustment is seeking a Use Variance. This is not the first time Stavola Industries has sought a Use Variance to expand its plant. The Brick Township Board of Adjustment reviewed a similar application for expansion in 2005,” the MUA said. “The 2005 application was ultimately denied and the denial was upheld by the New Jersey courts. Concerns raised by the public at the time included traffic safety, public health, dust, odor, and noise. All of these concerns remain in the current Stavola Industries application.”
Stavola Industries is seeking additional variances including a height variance for the construction of 60-foot-tall Asphalt silos. The maximum permitted height is 35 feet. Under the proposed plan, the silos would tower 20 feet over existing buildings and trees. Stavola said the Asphalt silos will allow the company to store asphalt, instead of running the plant throughout the day, lowering the impact of noise and air pollution to the surrounding community.
According to the company, the brick asphalt plant takes in recycled millings from road projects and creates recycled asphalt for use on road and construction projects throughout the state.