Freeholders Address NJDEP Sewer Service Area Map
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 • 11:02pm
NEWTON, NJ - The Wednesday night Sussex County Freeholders meeting was dominated by discussion of the DEP sewer service area (SSA) maps.
A sewer service area map is part of a county’s wastewater management plan that dictates a property’s current or future connection to the sewage line.
The February 2011 Sussex County sewer map prepared by the NJDEP proposed for the removal of many areas across the county from sewer-line access. According to a press release from the DEP, the map was drafted “to eliminate conflicts with Category One waters, wetlands, threatened and endangered species habitats and other unique and rare ecological communities.” Sewer lines can pollute natural resources in the event of an overflow during heavy rainfall.
While the DEPs proposed map favored the environment, it may have proved a challenge to local economy. A property removed from the SSA may decrease in value due to the necessity of septic system installation. It could deter prospective developers and be a costly change for businesses and residences that were previously included in the SSA map.
Ann Smulewicz of Wantage voiced her concern during the public session over the negative impact the SSAs have on development and business in the county.
After a recent trip out-of-state, Smulewicz said she “came back to New Jersey to see malaise and stagnation.”
After attending a meeting in March 2011 held by the NJDEP to field questions regarding the SSA draft, Smulewicz received notice in September from the department that they had acted on revising the map.
However, Sussex County has not yet submitted final plans for the sewer service area map to the DEP.
As of Wednesday morning, five municipalities had not yet approved the SSA map.
Stanhope’s Councilman George Graham took the floor at the meeting to describe the conflicts his town is facing in approving the map.
“The DEP carved us out,” Graham remarked.
The process of evaluating areas for sewage access was described as a tedious, lot-by-lot process that is causing frustration for officials involved in the process.
County Administrator John Eskilson has scheduled meetings with the unsigned municipalities in the upcoming week. The deadline for submittal is July 15, and the county plans to move forward with or without the approval of the remaining municipalities.
In other business:
-Freeholders made a proclamation in recognition of Jacob D. Wallace who attained the rank of Eagle Scout. They also acknowledged retiring Homestead employees Judy Behler (over 25 years of service), Patrick W. Bailey (27 years), William F. Gordon (18 years), and Jeffery W. Vealey (25 years).
-Sussex County issued its 1,000th veteran identification card. Sussex County residents with a veteran ID are eligible to receive discounts at many stores and restaurants, as well as free admission to the Sussex County Fair. Click here to access a list of businesses with veteran discounts.
-CR 607 in the Borough of Hopatcong and CR 613 in Sparta will be temporarily closed on July 4th for Independence Day festivities.