Neptune given OK to build on River Road

Sayreville planners approve plant that will convert power


Staff Writer

After years of discussion and approvals, the Neptune RTS power conversion plant has cleared its final hurdle.

The Sayreville Planning Board voted unanimously Feb. 17 on site plan approval that will allow Neptune Regional Electrical Transmission Systems to build a power conversion plant on 12 acres of vacant property near River Road. Power cables will run from the plant to a similar facility in Hempsted, Long Island, N.Y.

The plant will convert power in the form of alternating current into direct current that will be transported to the Long Island facility.

The Neptune RTS project is part of a larger redevelopment plan for 86 acres off River Road owned by the Sayreville Economic Redevelopment Agency (SERA). Other plans for the land include senior housing as well as improvements to the River Road boat ramp.

“The borough has been anxious to redevelop that area,” said Dr. John Misiewicz, chairman of the Planning Board. “It’s a clean plant. [There will be] no pollution in an environmentally sensitive area.”

Randy Corman, executive director for SERA, told the Planning Board there will be no traffic, emissions, noise or pollution from the plant, and that it will produce about $417,000 a year for the borough through a 30-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement. Neptune RTS will also pay SERA $2.25 million in purchasing the site.

In 2002, several SERA members visited a similar Neptune plant in Belfast, Ireland, to see how it ran and what noise levels were produced. The trip was funded by Neptune. Christine Spezzi, one of the members to visit the plant, told the board she and the others met with both municipal and plant officials in Belfast, finding the operation to be clean. She said they found no objections to the plant during their visit.

Attorney Raymond Siberine, representing Neptune RTS, said the plan for the Sayreville facility provides that it will conform with the borough’s noise ordinance, and that if it does not, Neptune RTS will make necessary changes to bring it into compliance. Thomas Siener, a noise impact expert brought in by Neptune RTS, said he was “confident that they will meet the ordinance.”

Before approving the application, board member Michael D’Addio stated that the decibels will need to be at the lowest threshold of the borough ordinance.

“They will meet the nighttime level of 50 [decibels], even in the daytime,” Siener said.

The nearest residence to the proposed site lies 550 feet away, with the proposed senior citizen

complex 750 feet away.

To construct the facility, Neptune RTS will have to remove 1,307 trees from the site. According to Borough Engineer Jay Cornell, an ordinance adopted by the Borough Council requires that $200 for each removed tree be either contributed through a cash contribution to the borough’s tree bank or that saplings be donated.

Misiewicz said the plant will have a pleasant aesthetic presence, with brick fronting the building and a clock tower.

“It’s not the typical industrial metal building,” he added.

Misiewicz also indicated that construction, which is expected to begin this summer, would provide between 200 and 300 union jobs.

During the Feb. 16 meeting, the plan found support from the Electric Workers Union. Frank Leake, assistant business manager with the union, said he and his colleagues believe the Neptune RTS project presents a win-win situation for the town. He was the only member of the public to speak on the project.

Siberine told the board the plant will be a safe facility that will comply with all borough ordinances. The converter station, he noted, is a permitted use under the borough’s River Road redevelopment plan, and the site plan did not require any variances from the Planning Board.

According to current plans, the plant is expected to be on-line in 2007.

“This is good for the town,” Misiewicz said. “It’s going to redevelop that area.”