Metedeconk River’s C1 status moves ahead

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

BRICK — Following up on a pledge made in the township this winter, Gov. James E. McGreevey announced he formally began the process that will provide areas of the Metedeconk River the state’s toughest protection against pollution.

In total, 13 streams and rivers in Monmouth and Ocean counties were proposed for Category 1 protection status. The proposals will be given formal notice on Nov. 3 and subject to a 60-day public comment period.

"Every river we protect with this highest level of protection is one less place that will be attacked by overdevelopment and overcongestion," McGreevey said in a press conference at Windward Beach Park, Princeton Avenue.

The C1 status means that developments along these water bodies are prohibited from causing any measurable impact on water quality, according to state Department of Environmental Protec-tion Deputy Commissioner Joanna Dunn Samson. A 300-foot buffer will be mandatory between developments and the protected waterfronts, she said.

The governor was surrounded at the podium by students from Brick’s St. Thomas Lutheran Academy, which neighbors the vacant Route 70 Foodtown site that was once being sought after by Home Depot. Brick took ownership of that property less than 24 hours earlier to protect the Forge Pond section of the Metedeconk, and is now exploring its options on using the site for a recreation center.

Samson said the C1 regulations should pose no problem to Brick’s plans, as long as it uses the current building or doesn’t expand it beyond its existing footprint.

The Metedeconk, which winds through Brick, Freehold, Howell, Jackson, Wall, Lakewood and Millstone Township, is the primary source of drinking water for Brick, Point Pleasant Beach and Point Pleasant Borough. Brick Mayor Joseph Scarpelli and officials from some of those communities were also on hand for the announcement.

In January, McGreevey pledged to be­gin identifying areas of the Metedeconk for C1 protection.

On Oct. 8, he announced these Mon­mouth and Ocean County water bodies were being proposed for protection: the north and south branches of the Metede­conk, Bear Swamp Brook, the Man­asquan River area within Allaire State Park, the Manasquan Reservoir’s tribu­taries; Mill Run, Marsh Bog Brook, Mingamahone Brook, Muddy Fork Brook, Squankum Brook, Timber Swamp Brook and Titmouse Brook.

The governor said the New Jersey Builders Association is trying to battle the state’s various C1 designations in court.

"We’re fairly confident we can sustain this challenge," Samson said.

McGreevey also used the press confer­ence to stump for votes on Public Ques­tion No. 1 on the Nov. 4 ballot. If ap­proved, the vote would allow the Garden State Preservation Trust to issue an ad­ditional $150 million in bonds for the preservation of open space and drinking water in the Highlands and for improve­ments to local parks.

New Jersey loses 50 acres of open space per day to development, and the state must act now to slow the trend, he said.

"We may be the first state to exhaust our available supply of land," McGreevey said. "That is why, humbly, I am asking the citizens of this community, of Mon­mouth and Ocean counties, of this state, to support Public Question No. 1."