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24 June 2016

New Jersey: Hazlet Mayor Against Power Company's Transmission Line Plan

Hazlet Mayor Comes Out Swinging Against JCPL
Shared from the Holmdel-Hazlet, NJ Patch
by Carly Baldwin (Patch Staff), 23 June 2016

Hazlet Township Mayor Scott Aagre is emerging as one of the most outspoken leaders against the power company's transmission line plan.

Hazlet, NJ - Hazlet Township Mayor Scott Aagre is emerging as one of the most outspoken leaders against Jersey Central Power & Light's plan to erect 10 miles of power lines from Aberdeen to Red Bank.

"If JCP&L was confident enough that this proposed project had specific merits and was truly beneficial to the towns involved, they should be out front attending local meetings," Mayor Aagre told Patch Wednesday. "Very similar to an engineering project at a land use board hearing: You present your case, listen to the public comments, make modifications and come back again."

And the mayor said he would have preferred if two paid PR consultants who attended a Township Committee meeting Monday night in Hazlet on behalf of JCP&L had identified themselves.

"Would I have preferred they identified themselves and spoke? Absolutely," Mayor Aagre said. "As soon as they were pointed out by someone in the crowd, this is when they got up and left ... and it was then noticed that they left their trash behind in our meeting room."

I was very disappointed at the information sessions provided," he added. "No presentation of the proposal by JCP&L, only easels with tables and a rep at each desk location. Feedback seemed to vary to each resident, so various responses were received and (there was) no central source to go back to for clarifications or additional questions. Very unorganized. This is why so many residents have unanswered questions and are assuming worst-case scenarios."

Both the Hazlet Board of Ed. and the Township Committee passed unanimous votes against the plan. In Red Bank, the borough council tabled a resolution Wednesday night opposing the project, at the request of Councilman Mark Taylor. Taylor said he wanted to do more research on the topic before voting. Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger told Patch he is very concerned about the proposal, and is exploring what legal options his township can take to fight it. But the Middletown Township Committee has not taken formal action against the plan, and neither has the Board of Monmouth County Freeholders.

And Holmdel Mayor Eric Hinds told residents in a monthly newsletter that both the Holmdel Township Committee and the Holmdel Republican Party are opposed to JCP&L's plan in its current form. But he also pointed out:

"It is important to note that Holmdel Township and her officials have no legal standing in this matter. No approvals are needed from Holmdel in order for the project to proceed," he wrote.

Mayor Hinds recommended residents contact Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, who has also been outspoken against the plan, as well as the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU). In order for JCP&L to build the lines, they must get approval from the state BPU and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. They will likely formally apply for that approval before the end of summer, or even as early as July.


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