HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP: Lester details his record fighting PennEast pipeline

Harvey Lester, Hopewell Township
It was nothing short of ironic that Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman’s distorted claim in her letter to the editor that I left Hopewell Township vulnerable to the PennEast pipeline and developers appeared in the same issue with my factual record on both topics. Whether she was misinformed or misguided, I write to rebut the misrepresentations and to set the record straight.
I am fighting the PennEast pipeline every step of the way. In October 2014, I voted to oppose the pipeline in a township resolution that authorized township intervention. In November 2014, I attended the PennEast open house at South Hunterdon High School to see their tactics for myself.
Besides attending numerous public meetings and strategy sessions, in February 2015, at the scoping meeting, I publicly urged FERC to vote for the “No Build” option.
In July, when the county granted PennEast survey approval at Baldpate Mountain, I authored a press release announcing that I would introduce a resolution at our upcoming Township Committee meeting to demand that the county rescind their permission. Within 24 hours of publication, the county withdrew survey approval. At that meeting, I introduced and passed a resolution banning PennEast from surveying township property, including Baldpate Mountain.
Also in July, as chair of the Hopewell Township Board of Health, I conducted a novel hearing with scientific testimony regarding health and safety aspects of the pipeline. After hearing testimony, I introduced and passed a resolution declaring that the pipeline was “a significant and unreasonable risk to township residents.”
Recently, I became an intervenor in my own right.
I believe in limiting development. Always have, always will. In the past, Democrats have represented that view, but following their massive Kooltronic-Pennytown scheme and more massive Scotch Road Town Center proposal, I see that local Republicans are currently the party holding the line on development.
In 2008, under a Democratic administration, the township bought Pennytown for $6.5 million to construct 70 affordable housing units. By 2009, still under a Democratic administration, the project expanded to 365 housing units and a proposed partnership with Kooltronic Corporation. Under Republican administrations of 2010, 2011 and 2012, the project did not move forward. When the Democrats regained control of the Township Committee in 2013, the project was resurrected and was wildly unpopular. I chose to stand with the people and against my former party.
By 2014, history had repeated itself. When the current owner of the former Merrill Lynch property at Scotch Road asked the Planning Board to recommend to the Township Committee re-zoning 200 acres on the west side of Scotch Road, the Democratic administration proposed a 1,000-acre Scotch Road Town Center project. Once again, the project was wildly unpopular. Once again, I stood with the people and against my former party. 
Harvey Lester 
Hopewell Township 
The writer is a member of the Hopewell Township Committee and a Republican candidate for re-election. 