Decision time on crematorium

Elwood Baxter is right. The members of the Oceanport Planning Board need to make a decision on Woodbine Cemetery’s plan to build a crematorium on its 22 acres off Maple Avenue.

For several months the operators of the cemetery have been before the borough’s Planning Board with their plan for a crematorium.

They have obtained all the necessary state approvals for the facility; all that remains is for them to get approval for the site plan that the Planning Board is supposed to be considering.

Unfortunately, issues that have nothing to do with that plan keep cropping up in the Planning Board’s public hearings on Woodbine’s application.

While borough officials are right to seek to protect the neighbors of the facility, and indeed all of the borough, from what they perceive as a potential threat to the community, this is not the forum for that action.

Too often planning and zoning board hearings throughout New Jersey become battles of attrition where one side hopes to simply wear the other side out, rather than let an application stand on its merits.

This case is quickly starting to look that way.

While residents cannot be blamed for seeking help from the one venue open to them, the process for this and other approvals is always going to be hurt by that action. And, in cases where the opposition is a business, unless such a battle can make the expense of continuing the application too costly, losing is all but assured because the courts are generally not as susceptible to residents’ pressure as the local board.

When that happens, the process for the town also becomes considerably more expensive as it ends up paying not only its own, but the other side’s court costs.