Jul 28, 2014
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Environmentalists to Mount New Legal Challenge Against Route 37 Walmart

Supreme Court challenge will pit environmental groups against NJDEP

Environmentalists to Mount New Legal Challenge Against Route 37 Walmart
Environmental groups are planning to challenge a state Department of Environmental Protection ruling that would allow a Walmart Supercenter to be constructed at the border of Toms River and Manchester townships on Route 37.

The latest salvo of litigation comes a month after the state's Superior Court Appellate Division sided with with the developer of proposed a 203,091 square foot Walmart Supercenter in a case that centers around the presence of the northern pine snake, a threatened species in New Jersey, at the site.

The court ruled that a settlement between Jaylin Holdings, the developer, and the DEP to solve the snake issue by physically moving the snakes to a new location and preserving habitat elsewhere to make up for what would be lost at the Walmart site was legal. Environmentalists are now planning on challenging that ruling.

"The New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups will continue to push to get this decision overturned and have taken the first step, filing a petition for certification," said Jeff Tittel, the group's director.

"If this decision were to stand it would be open season on endangered species and their habitat," Tittel said. "This is the first time the DEP ever allowed for the direct take of a species and then created some type of mitigation miles away."

The environmental groups say that the DEP, after initially ruling against the allowance of permitting for the project, added new facts to the case in order to reverse its own decision.

Some have accused Walmart of hiring politically connected attorneys to help the approval process move forward in favor of the retail giant.

Along with the Walmart Supercenter, Jaylin has proposed building a 19,884 square foot garden center, 1,049 parking spaces, three stormwater basins and access roads, while reserving two outparcels for future use, according to court documents.

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