The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is in the beginning phases of amending a state map that focuses on Wastewater Management Systems. It redefines Sewer Service Areas, county by county, and it may affect the homes of the residents in those counties.
Sewer Service Areas are areas of land that are deemed eligible to have a sewer system running through it. The alternative to a normal sewer system is a septic system.
When amending the map in the Galloway Township area of Atlantic County, the NJDEP removed the designations of certain areas previously deemed Sewer Service Areas. This makes desired development in the township difficult, according to Galloway Township Engineer Kevin Dixon.
“We had prepared some of our own maps. We had been dealing with the county,” Dixon said. “The county agreed with some of the things we said. They presented it to the DEP, and then they came back with something else.”
Thus far, the township has been unable to express their concerns to the state, as the state communicates exclusively with the counties on the issue.
However, a public hearing will be held on March 23 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Anthony Canale Fire Training Center, 5033 English Creek Ave. in Egg Harbor Township. Dixon encouraged residents to attend the hearing and let the state hear their voices.
“Residents could be affected by this,” Dixon said. “If anyone wants to know if their property will be affected, they can come to (Dixon Engineering on Jimmie Leeds Road) and take a look at the map. It’s not a very large scale map, but we’ll be able to help them if they want to know if their property will be affected.”
Members of the town council will attend the hearing.
“I want to commend the council for taking action on this issue,” Dixon said. “They need to be out in front on this issue. They really get it.”
Representatives of Dixon Engineering will be at the Galloway Township Planning Board Meeting March 17 to discuss the issue, as well.
Areas impacted by the redrawn map would be the Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Zone, which includes the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, and areas of Leeds Road, Route 9 and Route 30.
“Most of Route 9 is not in the Sewer Service Area,” Galloway Township Planner Tiffany Cuviello said. “We have issues with failing septic systems where we need to install sewer, so we’re going to address that with the DEP.”
Because there are areas of the township in which sewer exists next to Sewer Service Areas in which sewer doesn’t currently exist, some of the redrawing doesn’t make sense, in the eyes of the township.
For example, one portion of the map shows an entire area designated as a Sewer Service Area, but one house has been left out of the designated area.
A site that was to have housed a Wawa before that deal fell through wasn’t included, meaning future development on that property would have to be done without sewer.
Most notably, the HUB area excludes areas around Stockton from the designated Sewer Service Area zone. So while Stockton is included, surrounding areas are left out. The Seaview, Stockton’s recent acquisition, was also excluded.
Areas on the map are marked in red, yellow and green, the same colors of the stop light, with the same meanings. Green means the area is designated as a Sewer Service Area, and red means the area is not designated as such.
Yellow means the area will be revisited at a later date. The last time the Wastewater Management Systesm was amended was in the 1980s, leading Dixon to believe it will be at least 10 years before the yellow areas are discussed again.
“For the purposes of development, that’s the same as never,” Dixon said.
Municipalities were previously permitted to handle their own Wastewater Management amendments, but following the real estate boom of the 1980s, the state decided it would handle amending the Wastewater Management Systems, with input from the counties.
“They were handling one municipality one week, and when they got finished with that, the following week, they would be hit with another one,” Dixon said. “I understand the logic behind it.”
Dixon also knows the need for the municipalities to be able to provide input. March 23 is for all municipalities in Atlantic County to express their concerns.
“Galloway is unique,” Deputy Mayor Don Purdy said when the issue was raised at Tuesday’s Council meeting. “They may not have the gray areas we have. We may have more to gain or lose.”
“We have to act now, or it will be another 10 years before we get a chance,” Councilman Dennis Kleiner said.
The NJDEP is holding the same type of meeting with every county’s municipality, including Ocean County, which had its meeting on Thursday, according to Cuviello.
For further information on the issue, residents are invited to attend next week’s Planning Board Meeting, or visit Dixon Engineering, 313 East Jimmie Leeds Rd.