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Bayshore environmental group opposes wind turbine

KEYPORT – The Bayshore Regional Watershed Council voted to write a letter opposing the proposed Bayshore Regional SewerAuthority (BRSA) wind turbine project in Union Beach at the April 14 meeting.

“We’re putting forward that we want to express a letter saying we’re not against wind turbines, we’re not against wind power, we think it’s a great idea,” said Joseph Reynolds, co-chair of the council.

Reynolds stated that the council wants BRSAto have a plan in place to ensure that the 380-foot-tall turbine would not have a major impact on wildlife, avian migration and residents.

Members of the council said the siting of the turbine is poorly planned with the turbine being built near a residential area, and there should have been greater public participation in the process.

“I think there needs to be a plan in place and there needs to be public comment on those plans,” said Reynolds. “And oftentimes I don’t think there is enough public comment. I think things happen by surprise. You wake up one day and the next thing you know there are bulldozers in your backyard.”

Reynolds also argued that the turbine would affect public access to Conaskonk Point, a popular bird-watching and fishing area. The turbine would use some of the wetlands area surrounding the BRSA property near Conaskonk Point.

“Studies by RSPB [The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds] which indicate at least two of the species that we know that nest there, harriers and the golden plover, they will not mate within 500 meters of a turbine,” said Bart Sutton.

“I think to drag the wind turbine in as access to Conaskonk Point is really stretching it,” said Frank Wells, vice chairman of BRSAand resident in the proposed area for 60 years, during public comment on the issue. “It’s not going to interfere with anyone walking there, or anything else.”

Wells pointed out that BRSA has been on its 24-acre property since 1974.

The 262-foot-tall concrete pile cap foundation for the turbine – located within 1,080 feet of a residential neighborhood – is located in the northern corner of the plant’s site, adjacent to the Raritan Bay.

The facility is surrounded by wetlands and is adjacent to property owned by JCP&L.

“I think it’s disingenuous for the state of New Jersey, the DEP [Department of Environmental Protection], to say, ‘You know, there aren’t going to be wind turbines in Delaware Bay,’ but they’re going to put them in Raritan Bay,” Reynolds said.

According to Reynolds, the DEP said no to wind turbines in the Delaware Bay area because of the birding and horseshoe crab habitats. He argues that it is the same for Raritan Bay and that is why they monitor animals like horseshoe crabs, ospreys and seals.

There are around two dozen threatened and endangered species at Conaskonk Point, according to Sutton.

Many state threatened and endangered birds, such as ospreys, black skimmers, and black-crowned night herons call the area home, and many other bird species use the area for breeding and nesting as well as eating, according to the New Jersey Audubon Society’s website.

“There’s tons of wildlife in this area,” Reynolds said. “For the DEP to say there is no wildlife in this area and that this area doesn’t count, and that it’s an industrial site and we’re going to put up industrial things is this area, I think that’s an outrage, and it’s an outrage for the people who live in this area.”

“Why Raritan Bay?” asked Reynolds.

The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the municipalities of Union Beach, Hazlet, Keyport and Holmdel have all passed resolutions opposing the wind turbine.

The watershed group meets the second Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at Keyport Borough Hall, Front Street. The council, established in 2000, is dedicated to the restoration and conservation of Raritan and Sandy Hook bays through education, advocacy and research.

The council membership represents Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Matawan, Middletown, Old Bridge, Sayreville, South Amboy and Union Beach