Marsh Project Meeting Not Open to the Public

Jun 16, 2017

A gathering to discuss the Little Egg Harbor/Tuckerton Marsh Restoration Project among 9th District legislators, Army Corps of Engineers, state Department of Environmental Protection and community officials on Tuesday, June 20 in Stafford Township is not a public hearing or public meeting.

Although it was described as a public meeting in an informational posting by project consultant BSR, and described in The SandPaper as a public hearing, it is neither. The event can be attended by invitation only.

The 9th District delegation released this statement on Friday: “For purposes of efficiency, our Delegation requested that the meeting be limited to invitees who were comprised of local elected officials, representatives of pertinent government agencies and community representatives. The intent of the small working group was to have the meeting be as productive as possible given the sensitive timeframe for permit applications necessary for the project to move forward. Our office was consulted about the project very late into the permitting process, thus we chose to move forward with all deliberate speed to meet the critical deadlines.

“Unfortunately, a recent article in The SandPaper was recently brought to our attention that inaccurately described the meeting as a ‘public hearing.’ From the outset, our Delegation made clear the meeting would be limited to those invited. While we never had any intention of excluding anyone, it has been our experience that more effective results that can be achieved with smaller groups, especially when dealing with a number of government agencies.

“The inaccurate description as a ‘public hearing’ causes potentially serious complications. First, and more basic, our Delegation chose Stafford as a centralized location and made accommodations for just those invited. Second, the term ‘public hearing’ carries with it several connotations and legal implications that, in additional to other things, may hamper the ability of government agency personnel to attend.

“For those parties interested in moving this project forward, they must now consider the potential legal ramifications that now may exist with respect to the application of the term ‘public hearing’ coupled by the potential that the number of persons attending the meeting may exceed the limits of the accommodations that we have secured. Should this occur, it may result in the meeting being rescheduled until a larger venue can be secured. Obviously, this would cost time that is in short supply. ...

“Let’s all hope that the meeting can be conducted as planned and that our best efforts can be applied to serving the best interests of Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton.”  —P.J.





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