Progress on the PennEast pipeline and a new facility at Capital Health-Hopewell were at the forefront at the Hopewell Township Committee’s last meeting of the year.
The PennEast pipeline reemerged as an issue of discussion following the recent court approval for PennEast’s eminent domain rights, allowing the seizure of nearly 150 private and preserved lands, according to a press release from the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. While the approval does mark a step forward for PennEast, it is still not a done deal.
“This decision from the judge absolutely in no way stops our ability to stop this pipeline,” said Patty Cronheim, head of the Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline (HTCAPP). “We’re in an administration that we feel will hold PennEast to the utmost extent.”
Mayor Kevin Kuchinski echoed Cronheim’s sentiments, stating that the judge’s decision “is a case where the federal government is trying to preempt state rights and individual property rights.”
“A lot of citizens of Hopewell Township have been at the forefront of this battle,” Kuchinski said, stating that the Township “probably set a record” with complaints by citizens, nonprofits and environmental groups.
Kuchinski said that the next stage is to bring the case to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, where PennEast’s disruptions may not meet the standards of the Clean Water Act, referencing the rejection of the Constitution Pipeline in New York for similar reasons last year.
“Science will show clear and present danger to our water sources,” Kuchinski said. “We’re going to continue as a Township to fight this.”
Cronheim and Kuchinski also referenced that, while most eminent domain cases are decided on the day of application, according to Kuchinski, it took nearly 10 months for the case to be decided in New Jersey.
“There is something very wrong and very flawed with this pipeline,” Kuchinski said. “This is one of the issues of our time.”
The Committee additionally passed a resolution allowing the development of a 38-acre “staged living development” between Capital Health and the Merrill Lynch facility on Scotch Road, offering independent and assisted living to seniors as well as a facility specializing in memory care.
Capital Health, while not owning the facility, will have all oversight over medical care, according to Dennis Dooley, Vice President of Communications and Governmental Affairs at Capital Health, although they will hire an outside company to operate the facility.
“There’s clearly a demand for the size of project we’re doing here,” Dooley said, stating that the facility could grow to a 1,000 units if demand is present. Construction on the project could begin as early as 2020, according to Dooley, with sewer allocation already contracted in that area.
The Committee will reconvene on January 7, 2019 with a reorganization meeting following the recent elections.
Additional coverage of the PennEast Pipeline by MercerMe can be found here.