February 6, 2005
Neighbor leads new charge against plant
By ANDREW JOHNSON Staff Writer, (609) 272-7238
to sell the Hamilton Township Planning Board on its controversial proposed power
plant, Commonwealth Shore Power LLC testified last year that four other peaker
plants already exist in the area.
But of the four peaker plants in the
area, not one is located in an expanding residential neighborhood with new
homes, as is the proposed plant.
You don't have to tell Wayne
Until he retired Feb. 1 from Conectiv Power Delivery, Choyce was
in charge of sub-station maintenance at all four peaker plants for the past five
years. He helped design two generating stations in 31 years.
that people don't want to live next to them.
"That's why they build them
where they do," he said about peaker plants, with substations and generators.
Choyce said that when Conectiv designed peaker plants, they intentionally built
them in nonresidential areas.
A three-hour ride through the region
supports Choyce's claim.
A Millville plant is in a desolate part of
Cumberland County on Route 49, near the Maurice River Township border. Its
nearest neighbors are a luncheonette and a house, each at least an eighth of a
A Vineland plant is on Sherman Avenue, across the street from
South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center, a new 400,000-plus-square-foot
hospital that is launching a wave of commercial growth in that part of town. Its
closest residential neighbors, across the street, are decades-old homes on
Similarly, a Manahawkin plant is just off Route 9 and
close to the intersection of Route 72, one of the fastest-growing commercial
strips in southern New Jersey. Like College Drive in Vineland, decades-old homes
dot Route 9, and seem almost out of place in the booming commercial
A Middle Township facility is perhaps the most remote, located at
the end of a dirt road in Rio Grande. Its nearest neighbors are a Comcast
satellite-dish field and wholesale meats distributor.
When Choyce was
involved in designing peaker plants, he said one of the first questions asked
was how close the plant would be to a home.
Commonwealth Shore Power's
proposed plant is nestled among hundreds of homes.
The brand-new Victoria
Crossing housing development frames the proposed plant's West Jersey Avenue
border. There are bunches of older existing homes that crowd its Egg Harbor
Township border, near Reega Avenue, to the east. Residents live on the Grand
Choyce is leading a new charge against a gas-powered
combustion-engine peaker plant being built off Grand Avenue in
"Save Our Neighborhood" signs are scattered throughout the
For Choyce, the battle is personal.
bought land for his retirement home on Grand Avenue years before he knew about a
proposed peaker plant. If the plant is built, he said his new house would be 250
feet from the plant property's border.
He thought he would be moving to a
wooded residential area, free from noise.
"That's why I bought the land,"
If the plant is built, he will sell the land, he
Choyce wonders if there was even a demonstrated need for the
His former company is upgrading its 69-kilovolt electrical lines
with 230-kilovolt lines, bringing in more power from Oyster Creek Generating
Station in Lacey Township to Cardiff Station in Egg Harbor
According to past state Board of Public Utilities hearings,
managers of the Pennsylvania-Maryland-New Jersey (PJM) Interconnection Grid
supported Conectiv's upgrade. At the same time, it said Commonwealth Shore
Power's energy plans for this area would not provide
Commonwealth Shore Power President R. Peter Lalor defended his
plant again this week. He believes there will be a demonstrated need for more
power in the area by 2007 or 2008.
Lalor said he realizes many residents
in the neighborhood have rallied against the plant.
"We are willing to
explore it," he said, about building his plant in a less residential part of
There is some momentum in town to do just that.
I'm against it," said Mayor John Sacchinelli, about the plant. "Why screw around
with people's lives?"
Sacchinelli said that he is not against the plant -
it could contribute $1 million a year in taxes to the township if it is built -
just the location.
Sacchinelli said that he will introduce an ordinance
this month barring power plants in residential neighborhoods.
Planning Board has so far moved in a direction contrary to the
On Thursday night, at the request of the Township Committee, the
board offered its first draft of a more comprehensive ordinance concerning local
The board's amended ordinance allows power plants to
be built in residential areas.
"If such a facility is placed within a
residential district, the architectural character shall blend in harmoniously
with the surrounding area," part of the draft reads.
Chairman James Link refused all comment concerning the power plant this
The Planning Board will hear the merits of the proposed plant's
site plan March 10.