The Union Beach Borough Council has authorized its special counsel to seek an injunction from state Superior Court that would block the transport of an industrial wind turbine destined for the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA) in late July.
The authorization, passed unanimously at the borough’s June 21 council meeting, came within weeks of an announcement by Conti Enterprises that turbine components would begin being shipped to the area “on or about July 23.”
Stuart Lieberman, of Lieberman & Blecher in Princeton, is the attorney authorized by the council to seek the injunction. He also serves as special counsel to the borough Planning Board on the turbine litigation.
Conti, the engineering and construction firm contracted by BRSA to build and oversee delivery of the turbine, has received county approval for delivery.
The council’s authorization is only the latest move in a four-year battle between the borough, Bayshore residents and the BRSA, which first announced plans to build the 386-foot-tall turbine in 2008. Earlier this year, Conti released a finalized transit map for the nearly 200 tons of components and materials that would have to be transported from a Newark warehouse to Union Beach in order to build the 1.5- megawatt, wind-powered generator at the authority’s facility. The turbine’s tower, hub and generator, according to Conti’s plans, would travel along Route 79 in Marlboro and Matawan to Main Street, then cross Route 34 and the railroad tracks at the Aberdeen Matawan Train Station.
From that point, the convoy would continue on to Route 35 and Route 36 to Union and Florence avenues in Hazlet, continuing along Front and Ninth streets in Union Beach before arriving at BRSA headquarters on Oak Street.
Following the announcement of the transport plans, a number of officials in the municipalities along the route raised concerns about the potential for infrastructure damage and disruption during delivery.
At a Matawan Borough Council meeting in December, residents and council members asked about the possibility of the oversized loads causing damage to bridges, roads and overhanging wires, and traffic or congestion problems that might arise on local roads.
According to Bill Heine, a spokesman for Monmouth County, Conti was originally granted conditional approval for the transport.
“The county’s approval was subject to the approval of all the municipalities involved,” he said. “We now have all those.”
Heine also said that Conti had to provide a bond and secure suitable police escorts for each leg of the delivery.
Eric Millard, project manager for Conti, said that both of these steps have been completed and that everything the county had asked the company to do prior to shipment has been completed.
“We hired an independent engineer, and we’ve done extensive studies of all the roads, bridges and structures along the route,” he said. “Everything has been taken care of. At this point, we’re good to go.”
In June, Conti began sending out 30-day notices to residents along the delivery route informing them that “wind turbine components will be transported through” their areas beginning “on or about July 23.”
“It is expected the delivery of the components will take place over the course of 7-10 business days, Monday through Thursday, between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” the notice reads.
Millard said that the company does not yet have an exact start date for delivery, but that he expects one will be finalized in the coming weeks.
Whether or not the turbine parts can actually be assembled, however, is still to be decided.
In April 2011, the borough of Union Beach filed an appeal with the Appellate Division of state Superior Court, stating that the municipality had the right to deny BRSA’s application for a zoning variance for a property acquired for the proposed turbine site.
The authority, in hearings held earlier this year, stated in its defense that it had received state approval for the plans from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and that state approval made any municipal land-use decisions concerning the project irrelevant.
The appeal is still pending, and according to meeting documents, the Union Beach Council is seeking the injunction to prevent the delivery of the turbine components before a ruling is made.
Mike Sinkevich, who represented Lieberman & Blecher at the meeting while Lieberman was out of town, said Monday that the law firm is currently reviewing potential courses of action.
“Right now, we’re doing some internal strategizing,” he said. “We’re trying to assess all of our options, and that’s all I can really say at this time.”
As of Tuesday, no legal action had yet been taken.
Last year, the Independent reported that the BRSA executive director said the authority had been advised the turbine materials could be transported to the site before the court had ruled.
Following that report, Union Beach filed a motion to accelerate the appeal so it could be heard before the transport could take place.
In December the appellate court denied the motion, and the case was eventually heard in March of this year.