Building near rail lines subject of proposed bill

Building near rail lines
subject of proposed bill

NJ Transit would be required to inform municipalities of the agency’s long-term rail plans whenever a town is considering development of property near rail lines, under a proposed law sponsored by state Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski.

The Assembly Transportation Committee released the legislation last week, according to Wisniewski, a Sayreville resident and Democrat representing the 19th District.

"The agency must do a better job of working with local officials so businesses and homeowners aren’t surprised by future rail development," Wisniewski said.

He referred to the squabbling that arose from the proposed Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex, or MOM, rail line. In this instance, developers built housing communities next to freight rail lines, not knowing that NJ Transit planned to use the lines in the future, according to a press release from Wisniewski’s office. The proposed line drew the ire of many residents in Middlesex and Monmouth counties who felt the MOM line would destroy their quality of life.

The bill would require NJ Transit to attend municipal Planning and Zoning Board meetings or submit written comments when applications for development involving a major site plan or subdivision is considered by those boards. NJ Transit would be required to include information on its current and anticipated future use of adjoining rail-related properties.

Also, applicants would be required to provide notice of a hearing to the executive director of NJ Transit on any application for development of property within 200 feet of any railroad or property owned by NJ Transit.

"No homeowner wants to wake up one morning to the unexpected sounds of trains passing through their backyard," said Wisniewski, chairman of the Assembly Transportation panel. "Maintaining open lines of communication between municipalities and NJ Transit will prevent this from happening."

The committee released the bill 12-0 with one abstention. It now goes to the Assembly speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote.