Public Hearing on Natural Gas Pipeline Easement to Be Held in Eagleswood Later This Month

Sep 13, 2017

On the subject of a proposed natural gas pipeline underneath a portion of municipal parkland, residents of Eagleswood Township and all other interested parties are invited to attend a public hearing on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 6:30 p.m., at Eagleswood Town Hall at 146 Division St.

Eagleswood Township is holding the hearing to collect oral comments regarding its application to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program for the proposed major diversion of a small portion of the pavilion area at the end of Dock Road for a permanent easement to enable New Jersey Natural Gas to construct a new pipeline there. The application is subject to approval from the DEP commissioner and State House Commission.

In October of last year, a scoping hearing was held in Eagleswood wherein Project Manager David Tanzi of engineering and environmental consulting firm CDM Smith, for New Jersey Natural Gas, presented the proposed Long Beach Island Reinforcement Project. The plan would run 2.72 miles of 12-inch steel pipe as a secondary feed under Little Egg Harbor, by way of directional boring or horizontal directional drilling, from the end of Dock Road in West Creek to West 99th Street (a.k.a. Alabama Avenue) in Beach Haven Park.

HDD is a steerable, trenchless method of installing underground pipe, conduit or cable in a shallow arc along a prescribed bore path by using a surface-launched drilling rig and is said to have minimal impact on the surrounding area.

The project application, to be filed by Eagleswood Township on behalf of NJNG through the DEP’s Green Acres Program, is for a proposed major diversion of township-owned parkland known as “the pavilion” at the end of Dock Road. The major diversion would end up disturbing .02 acres (of the total 29,000-square-foot area) for a permanent subsurface NJNG easement. A public hearing is required because the proposed project involves encumbered land, i.e. the paved parking and boat launch area.

During the public comment portion of the hearing, Eagleswood Mayor Michael Pasternak said he hoped special care would be taken not to undermine the new bulkheading at the street end.

On the upside, the gas company would pay Eagleswood for the access to the land; though too premature to know now, the amount of the compensation would be determined by an appraisal. As stated in the public notice for the hearing: The minimum compensation ratio, based on market value, is 10:1 for a private project sponsor (minimum $2,500); “due to restrictions on the type of funding that was issued to Eagleswood Township at the time the Green Acres Parcel was registered, monetary compensation can only be used for land acquisition.”

Cedar Run Dock Road would have been the other possible location to connect the mainland to the Island, Tanzi explained. But the West Creek one was determined to be the more feasible of the two because it’s already near a gas main and, as a paved parking lot, no existing vegetation or wetlands would be harmed.

The LBI Reinforcement Project is one of six capital projects in NJNG’s New Jersey Reinvestment in System Enhancements program, approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in July 2014. Through the five-year, $102.5 million NJ RISE initiative, NJNG aims “to enhance the resiliency of its natural gas distribution and transmission systems and help mitigate the impact of major weather events in the future.”

NJ RISE is designed to help mitigate the impacts to NJNG’s system and customers from future extreme weather events. These upgrades would help minimize the number and duration of outages, improve NJNG’s ability to respond to and control service disruptions, and enhance the safety and reliability of its system.

— Victoria Ford

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