HOWELL-A large solid waste management facility to be built on Randolph Road in Howell Township could be getting the final nod from the Monmouth County Solid Waste Advisory Council (SWAC) next Thursday.
Last minute venue change
A public notice was published notifying residents of a venue change. Originally scheduled to be held at the Monmouth County Reclamation Center Administration Building, the hearing will now be held at the Howell Township Municipal Building on Thursday, January 25th at 7 pm.
In July, the project which could have been approved by the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, but the board said the application was incomplete.
Eleventh-hour changes to meeting times and locations are nothing new for the project which many members of the neighboring Lakewood and Howell communities feel is a political job being slid under the door of local residents.
Many members of the Howell and Lakewood communities opposed the facility after learning about it at the 11th hour.
Citizezns say project will adversely affect quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods
A watchdog group in Howell, Howell NJ Strong, found public documents that linked the project to the husband of the former Monmouth County Clerk.
Under the plan, according to testimony by the Monmouth County Solid Waste Advisory Council, the facility will include a 25,000 square foot main building and an 8,000 square foot maintenance garage. A scale house and office building are also part of the proposed waste station.
Many residents are balking over the proposal which will see 1,500 tons of construction debris and recycling waste traverse the sleepy single lane roads surrounding the facility shipped in by large commercial trucks.
Can Howell’s roads handle the increased truck traffic?
Randolph Road is miles from any major thoroughfare in the area, including Interstate 195, Route 9 and the Garden State Parkway, leading many local residents wondering where all of that truck traffic will go.
“My family owns a business located less than a mile from here… 547 is already busy and this will become even more of a headache for those who use this road on a daily basis,” said Richard Maida.
The only routes in and out of the facility would mean heavy commercial traffic will traverse local roads though Howell and Lakewood Township. Allenwood-Lakewood Road, Lakewood Farmingdale Road, Squankum Road, Brook Road, County Line Road and others can see large increases in heavy commercial traffic if the Freeholders approve the project on the 25th.
Political ties to project?
On top of that, the Howell Township watchdog group, Howell NJ Strong published records this past fall that showed the firm being chosen for the project, Resource Engineering LLC, based out of a post office box in Farmingdale is owned by Robert French, the husband of recently retired Monmouth County Clerk Claire French, a longtime member of the Monmouth County GOP.
Even Lakewood opposes this facility
The Lakewood Scoop, an online news source for the Lakewood Orthodox Community reported that the project could be the source of a possible recycling war between Monmouth County and Ocean County, a war that could overburden Howell and Lakewood’s now sleepy single lane roads with non-stop heavy truck traffic in and out of the facility.
Traffic impact could be felt as far south as Toms River
If built, the facility could also see increased dump truck traffic on roads in Brick, Lakewood and Jackson as the facility also aims to process waste from all across Ocean County. Not only would the facility create additional cross-county heavy commercial traffic, rates for Ocean County’s waste removal services could also increase.
Possible rate increases for Ocean County recycling
“In addition, this facility would likely process much of Ocean County’s waste – particularly construction and demolition debris – which is currently processed by government contractors along with household waste,” The Lakewood Scoop said in an article this past fall. “This would significantly raise the cost per ton for Lakewood and other Ocean County townships to process its household waste, which will significantly hurt taxpayers.”
This comment was confirmed with an Ocean County official who wished to remain anonymous.
Ocean County and several municipalities within the county operate recycling facilities, which are generally located on major thoroughfares in the their respective communities. The facility would shift the commercial trucking lanes north through Lakewood, Brick, Jackson and Howell.
Political shenanigans at root of proposal?
Still, others worried about the project’s link to the former county clerk.
“Crooked as a dog’s hind leg,” said Mark Lynch a member of the Howell NJ Strong Facebook group.
“Nahhhh , no conflict there,” quipped Charles O’Donnell.
“We fought to close the landfill off Allenwood – Lakewood Rd back in the 80’s,” said Debbie Powell, a Howell resident. “They took their time and $$ to only moved down the road to a new location to damage the area like they did back then, don’t let this go in it’s by a natural stream just like the old dump caused the fish to be deformed have tumor’s bad for the environment.”
“Why would MONMOUTH COUNTY include the facility in its Solid Waste Plan and take in 100 Diesel trucks a day mostly from Lakewood in Ocean County,” asked Peter Klymasz. “Seems to reason that Lakewood’s New Hampshire Recycling Plant has plenty of room and a better road system without the creeks under single-lane roadways past folks homes.”
The facility will take in a steady stream of construction and demolition debris and operate Monday through Friday from 7 am to 5 pm and on Saturdays from 7 am to noon.
“Why is Monmouth County allowing this to be built in Howell?” asked one resident. “If it wasn’t for the political connections, I don’t think we’d even be having this discussion.”
As of today, no agenda has been published for the meeting.
PUBLIC NOTICE PUBLISHED TODAY
COUNTY OF MONMOUTH NOTICE OF CHANGE OF MEETING DATE AND VENUE FOR THE MEETING OF THE MONMOUTH COUNTY SOLID WASTE ADVISORY COUNCIL Be advised that the January meeting for the Monmouth County Solid Waste Advisory Council that was scheduled to be held on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at the Monmouth County Reclamation Center Administration Building conference room will be rescheduled for Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. This meeting will be held at the Main Meeting Room located on the second floor of the Howell Township Municipal Building, 4567 Route 9 North, Howell Township, NJ 07731. Stuart A. Newman Solid Waste Coordinator County of Monmouth ($20.90)