By John Burton |
OCEANPORT — The Mazza family is looking to find out the extent of the contamination of its Port Au Peck Avenue property as it weighs possible future development.
“We don’t have plans right now for what we’re going to do with the site,” said Dominick Joseph Mazza Jr. about the 6 ½-acre property his family owns at 275 Port Au Peck Ave., near Monmouth Park.
Regardless of any future plans, the property owners are undertaking an investigation into how extensive the contamination is at the location, which in the past had been used as a dump site for the Mazza family’s primary business, Mazza Recycling Services, Tinton Falls.
In recent years, the owners have proposed several possible projects, among them a single-family home sub-division and more recently a plan to use the location for a mix of two single-family homes and a commercial horse-boarding business. Those plans were eventually abandoned.
Mazza and his environmental consultant made their presentation to Mayor John “Jay” Coffey, Borough Council and members of the public at the Sept. 7 council workshop meeting.
“A lot people are here for this,” Coffey said, noticing the crowd attending the workshop.
The Mazza family has retained Brinkerhoff Environmental Services, Manasquan, to conduct an investigation of the site to determine the extent of the contamination and “for the best way to address the problem,” said Laura Brinkerhoff, the firm’s president.
The firm plans to excavate a series of approximately 2-by-4-foot pits over a period of time to gain a more comprehensive grasp of what’s in the soil, according to Brinkerhoff. “We’re going to map it out and monitor it,” she said.
Brinkerhoff said she is awaiting permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to allow them to proceed with the testing.
The property owners have applied for an investigative permit, which is forthcoming, according to Lawrence Hajna, a NJDEP spokesman, “to characterize the waste and determine the extent of the footprint of the landfill.”
On about three of the property’s acres, located at the rear of the site, discarded house shingles containing asbestos have been found, Brinkeroff said. Asbestos is a prohibited known carcinogenic.
“The greatest concern is the disturbance of the ground,” on the site, given the nature of the contamination, Coffey said. Area residents have said in the past they feared the asbestos would be released into the environment, posing a health risk.
Brinkerhoff attempted to allay those fears, telling the audience and governing body no excavation would be done on windy days and NJDEP would be monitoring the process. And when the borings were completed the pits would be covered with about two feet of clean fill.
Neighbors again voiced reservations about the contaminations and other environmental considerations, such as wetlands on the property, which backs up to a creek, and nesting eagles.
“We have to concern ourselves with the runoff,” from the site, said Karen Long, a Revere Drive homeowner. Whose home is in the vicinity of this property.
“We’re investigating to see if there is a bigger problem,” Brinkerhoff said.
NJDEP’s Hajna said, “What we believe to be in the landfill is construction and demolition waste.”
And Long, who has lived in the area for many years, recalls others finding an old auto chassis, auto batteries, and an old water heater, among other debris. Long accused the Mazzas of “negligence across the board.”
“Your family’s not doing the right thing,” Long told the Mazzas.
The Mazza family has owned the property since the 1920s, Dominick Mazza said. Over the years, they considered constructing age-restricted housing and the borough land use board had previously approved a subdivision plan to create 12 separate residential lots, but the plan never moved forward.
In April 2016, the owners again appeared before the board seeking a use variance to permit the construction of two homes and a stable and exercise area that could accommodate as many as 12 horses. The property owners withdrew the application without explanation in May 2016, but had faced opposition from residents who objected to a commercial use for the residential area and the concerns over the contamination.
Borough officials said they would keep residents apprised of developments with the property investigation, reporting updates on the borough website. Residents within 200 feet of the site would be directly notified of any activity, as required by law.
This article was first published in the Sept. 14-21, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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