Sprawl-Busters Newsflash Blog - Anti-Sprawl news since 1998.
Subscribe to Sprawl-Busters Blog Follow Sprawl Busters on Twitter
Occupy Walmart & Order Al's Books Movies Newsflash! The Case Against Sprawl Home Towns Not Home Depot Victories Your Battles About Us Contact Us  

recent news

List articles
by the month:

2018
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2017
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2016
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2015
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2014
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2013
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2012
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2011
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2010
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2009
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2008
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2007
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2006
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2005
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2004
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2003
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2002
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2001
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2000
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1999
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1998
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC


Search database by text:

2014-06-14
Toms River, NJ. After 10 Years, Wal-Mart Survives A Snake Bite, But Still Has Problems Ahead

For ten years, Wal-Mart has been trying to slither its way onto a huge superstore site overlapping the towns of Toms River and Manchester, New Jersey. For years it was stymied by a small snake, and now the courts have sent the company back for more permits. Add in some political pressure from Governor Chris Christie, and you've got one development mess.

On December 3, 2006, Sprawl-Busters reported that a developer wanted to build a 228,000-s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter in Toms River along Route 37. But the northern pine snake that hibernates on the 43-acre site held up the supercenter. The project got a green light from local planning boards, but in June of 2006, the state Department of Environmental Protection denied a Coastal Area Facilities Review Act (CAFRA) permit because a male northern pine snake had spent the winter in a den on the property.

"This story is just hard to believe," the Toms River Mayor said at the time, "that one snake is holding up the development of this retail center, that whole Route 37 corridor, and potentially, the Ciba-Geigy site. I'm just so frustrated with the position of the DEP on this." Toms River officials were concerned that the northern pine snake was also living on the 1,350-acre Ciba-Geigy Corp. superfund site, which officials view as crucial to the township's economic well-being.

The property owners claim to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on environmental studies of the Wal-Mart site, including paying $26,000 to have a veterinarian from Rutgers University implant transmitters in two northern pine snakes found on the property in the fall. One of the snakes left the property in the fall and hibernated for the winter in a paint can. But the second snake hibernated on the Wal-Mart site.

State officials' said there are many snake dens on the property. The New Jersey DEP at first told the landowner that no form of mitigation would be allowed, and that the CAFRA permit would be denied. The landowner then appealed the DEP's decision to the Office of Administrative Law, and gathered 7,000 signatures on petitions from residents who want another Wal-Mart.

Fast forward eight years, and there still is no construction going on at this site. The Star-Ledger newspaper reported recently that the developer has to go back to the towns for further zoning approvals, but it looks like Wal-Mart is no longer fighting snakes--but its own scale.

A state court ruled recently that the developer, Jaylin Holdings, must return to the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection to determine how much of the 43 acres can be covered by the building and a parking lot. The court also overturned Manchester's approval of the project because the property is not zoned for a superstore, and requires a local variance.

However, the court rankled environmentalists by ruling that the project does not pose a danger to the pine snake. The New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the New Jersey Sierra Club, the American Littoral Society and Save Barnegat Bay all complained about the court ruling. "It's a dangerous precedent for the future of threatened and endangered species in New Jersey," the Ledger quoted the Conservation Foundation as saying.

As usual, Wal-Mart just issued a terse statement reiterating its desire "to serve customers and the community in Tom's River."

Two years ago, the state DEP gave a green light to the developer's proposal to move the pine snakes off the Wal-Mart site and create another habitat for the reptile as "mitigation." Environmentalists challenged the DEP decision as having no science behind it, and noting that DEP was under pressure from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who wanted the project approved in this district that strongly supported him at the polls. Governor Christie understands that snakes don't vote, and developers have money.

Four years ago, Jaylin scaled back his footprint to 189,797 s.f. with a 5,703 square-foot garden center and 833 parking spaces. State law on lot coverage has changed since this project was first presented. In 2004, a developer had to leave only 20% of a lot for open space. But now the state insists that a lot be 70% open. Jaylin has argued that he should only be held to the old standards of 20% open space, because his scaled-down plan is not a new application, and that his 2004 plan is grandfathered under rules then in effect.

But the court ruled that Manchester's zoning ordinance does not specifically allow super centers. Ronald Gasiorowski, attorney for the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, says the developer now has to go back to the Manchester zoning board for a variance or the township will have to pass a new ordinance allowing super centers in that zone. "Basically they would have to start all over again," Gasiorowski told the Star-Ledger. "This property can be utilized (but) for something else that is simply much smaller."

Gerald Chudoff, of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 152, which represents workers in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, applauded the work of Attorney Gasiorowski. "Justice and common sense prevailed," Chudoff told Sprawl-Busters after the court decision was made public. "Toms River wins by not having more low paying jobs. Wal-Mart has the most employees on public assistance in New Jersey. Shop-Rite, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, and Costco all support the economy with higher wages and fewer lawsuits and negative news stories."

What you can do: The court has ruled that Manchester's zoning ordinance does not specifically allow super centers. Ronald Gasiorowski, attorney for the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, says the developer now has to go back to the Manchester zoning board for a variance or the township will have to pass a new ordinance allowing super centers in that zone. "Basically they would have to start all over again," Gasiorowski told the Star-Ledger. "This property can be utilized (but) for something else that is simply much smaller."

Gerald Chudoff, of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 152, which represents workers in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, applauded the work of Attorney Gasiorowski. "Justice and common sense prevailed," Chudoff told Sprawl-Busters after the court decision was made public. "Toms River wins by not having more low paying jobs. Wal-Mart has the most employees on public assistance in New Jersey. Shop-Rite, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, and Costco all support the economy with higher wages and fewer lawsuits and negative news stories."










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

info@sprawl-busters.com
Strategic Planning ~ Field Operations
Voter Campaigns 
21 Grinnell St, Greenfield ~ MA 01301
(413) 772-6289