The Berkeley Aquatic Center Petition: Know the Facts
Friday, September 28, 2012 • 1:00pm
Dear Editor and Berkeley Heights Residents,
Joseph Bruno, the Mayor of the Township of Berkeley Heights, recently posted a letter to the editor in which he said he was setting forth the “truth” about the petition currently being circulated to propose an ordinance to increase the sewer capacity allocated to property owned by the BAC Center for Excellence, LLC (“BAC”) in Warren Township. Unfortunately, Mr. Bruno has some of the most important facts wrong.
Here are the facts:
Berkeley Heights Wastewater Treatment Facility has sufficient capacity.
· To build the proposed swimming facility, the BAC needs capacity for 6,000 gallons of sewage per day from the Berkeley Heights sewer plant.
· The BAC property is already allotted 1,080 gallons per day in the existing agreement between Berkeley Heights and the Warren Township Sewer Authority (“WTSA”).
· Berkeley Heights’ sewer consultant, Omni Environmental, LLC, has stated on the record “that sufficient conveyance capacity exists for … 6,000 [gallons per day] flow from the proposed new Berkeley Aquatic Center (BAC).”
· The additional 4,920 gallons of flow per day from the aquatic center represents only 0.34% of the current excess capacity reported by Berkeley Heights in its draft Wastewater Management Plan.
· The additional 4,920 gallons of flow per day from the aquatic center represents only 1.2% of estimated future capacity, based on a 20-year build-out analysis in the Berkeley Heights Wastewater Management Plan.
· Until BAC’s request to connect to their sewer system, Berkeley Heights had never denied a request by a property owner covered by a sewer agreement, in Warren Township or in any of the other nearby towns with which Berkeley Heights has sewer agreements.
The BAC’s sewage is not unique or industrial.
· The BAC facility does not create industrial sewage.
· The State of New Jersey classifies sewage from swimming facilities, like the BAC’s, as domestic, the same as from a residence.
· Mayor Bruno states that the Berkeley Heights/WTSA agreement covers only residential uses in Warren. This is not true.
· The existing agreement between the WTSA and Berkeley Heights provides for treatment for a summer day camp with multiple pools, in Warren.
· Mayor Bruno says that the requested amendment could “potentially allow for any Commercial Use in …Warren to connect to the Berkeley Heights Plant.” This is not true.
· BAC’s property is the only property in Warren covered by the Berkeley Heights/Warren sewer service agreement developable for the non-residential use proposed by the BAC. Minimally increasing the capacity allocated to the BAC property will not mean that Berkeley Heights has to accept sewage from other commercial properties.
· Specifically, of the 123 lots in Warren that may be served under the Sewer Use Agreement, 114 are already developed with single-family homes or are part of Camp Riverbend. Of the nine vacant lots, seven are surrounded by existing residences, one lot is part of BAC’s site, and the other is owned by Warren Township. Moreover, non-residential uses in the portion of Warren serviced by the Sewer Use Agreement are only permitted if they front on nonlocal roads; none of the remaining vacant lots (other than BAC’s) do.
Increasing BAC’s capacity generates revenue for the Township.
· When BAC is permitted to connect to the Berkeley Heights sewer plant, Berkeley Heights is entitled to collect a connection fee, in addition to annual user fees.
· Both the Berkeley Heights Sewer Authority and the BAC estimate that the connection fee is approximately $85,000.00.
BAC was forced to sue Berkeley Heights.
· Because the Mayor and Council decided to cater to a small group of objectors opposed to the BAC project, (a project located in Warren), Berkeley Heights is spending thousands of dollars defending their arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable decision.
Berkeley Heights’ residents are now circulating a petition to propose a public initiative to amend the agreement to increase the capacity, which will allow BAC to build its facility and the Township to collect connection fees and annual user fees from the BAC.
Please visit www.backthebac.com for additional information and updates on this important voter initiative.
Very truly yours,
BAC-Center of Excellence, LLC