Sunday, March 9, 2014

Dispute arises when enviro-advocate is rejected for spot on panel to consider changes to Highlands region plan

Highlands trail marker - Steven Reynolds photo
                      Highlands trail marker – Steven Reynolds photo

The appointment of a four-member committee to develop possible revisions to New Jersey's management plan for the Highlands region touched off an immediate dispute, Ben Horowitz reports in the Star-Ledger
Some council members and environmentalists say three of the four committee members have been critical of the Highlands Act, which was passed in 2004, and that one outspoken environmentalist, Tracy Carluccio, was rejected when she offered to serve on the panel. They fear the revisions may weaken the master plan’s environmental protections.

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Council Chairman Jim Rilee, who appointed the committee and is a member, denied there will be any bias and said the panel’s work will seek an objective balancing of “the concerns of property owners and the environmental perspective.”

“We’re appointed to uphold that law,” Rilee said. “Whatever personal opinions people may have, they are just that.”

New Jersey Highlands Coalition's Executive Director Julia Somers called Rilee’s failure to appoint Carluccio “very unfortunate.” Carluccio described
the decision as 'exclusionary.'

Rilee's reaction?

“Tracy’s upset about everything. I can’t specifically identify what she’s talking about this time. I think she’s incorrect, as I usually do.”

Read the full story here

Related environmental news stories:
New Jersey Highlands development waiver proposed to restore 'economic viability'
Grants available for grassroots groups working to protect Highlands

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