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13 N.J.A.R. 338

Pinelands Commission; Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority v
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Citation: 13 N.J.A.R. 338
Decision Date: 1990
Agency: PINELANDS COMMISSION
Synopsis: Petitioner applied for a waiver of strict compliance from the requirements of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan in order to continue to operate its solid waste landfill until an alternative solid waste disposal program could be developed. Petitioner claimed there was compelling public need for a waiver pursuant to N.J,4.C. 7:50-4.66(a)2i. The executive director of 'the Pinelands Commission recommended that the application for a waiver be denied. The matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing. Petitioner had previously obtained a waiver to develop its lined sanitary landfill while developing a resource recovery system. Under the terms of that waiver, the landfill was to be used only as a backup for the resource recovery system after August 8, 1990, the date when the Pinelands Protection Act required closure of all landfills in the Pinelands. Petitioner was not able to develop a resource recovery facility by that date nor had petitioner arranged to transport waste out of the county to another waste disposal facility. Therefore, peti- tioner requested a waiver in order to continue operating the existing landfill. Petitioner argued that the waiver should be granted on the basis of compelling public need because there was no feasible alternative for disposal of solid waste after August 8, 1990. Respondent countered that feasible alternatives outside Cape May County existed, but had not been arranged. Therefore, the waiver was not required to meet public needs. The administrative law judge assigned to the case concluded that petitioner failed to establish compelling public need for a waiver. Feasible alternatives did exist in other counties and out of State. The increased cost of those alternatives did not render them infeasible. The State of New Jersey 339 additional cost would not be' economically impractical when weighed against the public policy of protecting the Pinelands. Accordingly, the judge recommended denial of the waiver. Upon review, this initial decision was modified by the Pinelands Commission. The Commission approved a waiver permitting the land- fill to remain open until December 31, 1992, at which time it was to be permanently closed. Because petitioner had failed to arrange for an alternative method of disposing of solid waste and it would be impossible to make such arrangements before the end of 1992, there was a compelling public need for the waiver. However, the Com- mission said that no further extensions of time to operate the landfill would be permitted after 1992 and ordered petitioner to report to the Commission on a regular basis its progress in developing an alterna- tive solid waste disposal plan. Thomas S. Higgins, Esq. and Joseph J. Slachetka, Esq., for petitioner (Higgins, Slachetka and Long, attorneys) Stephen E. Brower, Deputy Attorney General, for respondent (Robert J. DelTufo, Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney) Jan M. Schlesinger, Esq., for the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (Schlesinger, Mintz and Pilles, attorneys)
Rule(s) Cited: 7:50-4.66(a)2i 7:50-6.75(a)5