TOMS RIVER-After claims by Toms River Councilman Daniel Rodrick were made that the township is planning a “City within a City” style development at the Ciba-Giegy Superfund site, Toms River Township Business Administrator Don Guardian said no such project exists. The report has created false panic and uproar in the community to serve only as an election call-to-action for the Rodrick team.
In an article posted on the Rodrick affiliated news blog, Jersey Shore Independent, he claimed the township was entertaining a plan to build 6,400 homes at the site.
“I promised the residents of this community that I would stop over-development. Now these greedy lunatics want to develop an area the size of Hoboken – on the site of the Toms River cancer cluster,” Rodrick said. Rodrick, a former Democrat turned Republican in 2018, has now split once again with the Republican party and is running an opposition election against the party.
Rodrick has yet to provide any actual evidence of such a development and no such projects exist in the township records. We reached out to Rodrick and his running mate, Justin Lamb to provide the evidence they had that such a development is in the works, but both have yet to respond.
Business Administrator Guardian, when asked today was also puzzled by Rodrick’s claim. Guardian said that the property owner, BASF is testing the waters, but doubts anything will come out of it.
“I understand that BASF had an RFP to developers several years ago about potential development and that 6 developers responded,” Guardian said. “But no action was taken so it appears that the property owner was just testing the waters if they chose to sell.”
Guardian also said the township’s master plan would prevent housing from being built on the site and that the BASF RFP does not mean any further action or movement has taken place since. He also said that the township zoning laws would not permit BASF to build housing at the site.
“In the master plan, this property falls under industrial development only. No one has approached the township with regards to buying or developing,” he added. “Since BASF is in litigation appealing their taxes over a long term, you can be sure no action would be taken as to any future development.”
He said only one proposal for development, a solar farm, on the property came before the township regarding the Ciba-Giegy site.
“There was a solar panel company that met with township officials including myself to propose a solar field and was determining if the township had any objections,” Guardian said. “Our concerns dealt more with penetration into the ground, total weight, etc. so that the current cell is not disturbed or affected. I am not aware if they approached BASF but no application or permits have been submitted.”
Guardian said the township was concerned that even a solar farm on the site could have negative consequences on the environment. In order to build housing on that site, any developer would have an uphill battle to climb as the zoning board would first have to change the master plan to allow, which would involve a public hearing. After that, an application would be heard before either the zoning board or planning board which would allow for the public to voice their opinion. There has been no further contact between the township and the solar company since that meeting.
Since he became business administrator, Guardian said the township is focused on preventing overdevelopment and preserving open space. The possibility that a development like the one Rodrick has dreamed up would not only face scrutiny from the public but from township officials.
“Since arriving in January 2018, the town council and the mayor have only been taking steps to preserve open spaces to prevent further development through bonding and buying land, open space tax revenue, Green Acres and farmland preservation,” Guardian said. “The exception being downtown development and putting together property at Claudinia and Hooper Avenue for potential VA Clinic and relocation of the Post Office.”
No other media outlet has reported on development at Ciba-Giegy, which for sure would be headline news if it were indeed true.