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Opinion: The Fight to Save Our Small Town

By The Allentown Borough Council, May 15 2023 8:06 pm


Rural and Suburban municipalities are under attack. Overdevelopment and warehouse sprawling are threatening the environment, historical value, and families of our towns. The two recently sent permit applications to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on the Stein property is another attempt at sacrificing the lives, well-being, and longevity of our town and its residents. Bohler Engineering apparently misled Allentown and Upper Freehold’s residents by stating the Stein property would be used for Affordable Housing units, but in all actuality, the owners used this extra time bought from this facade to keep the wheels of their true intentions spinning.

The consequences these proposed warehouses would have is incredibly damaging to Allentown, Upper Freehold, and our surrounding municipalities. These warehouses will cause extremely poor air quality that will later result in high rates of asthma and other air-related diseases along with damaging wildlife by removing their habitat and killing the ecosystem. The development of warehouses would mean more truck traffic, and for Allentown, in which most homes were built in the 1800 and early 1900s, the foundations will crumble underneath the families of our town. Not to mention tearing up our roads and clogging our streets with unpredictable and hazardous traffic. The increased truck traffic will also present a serious threat to our seniors and children, as the students from UFRSD come to Allentown to play at our parks, eat at our restaurants, and support our small businesses. This presents an unneeded threat to them.

The additional utilities such as emergency services, water and sewage needs, etc, for which Allentown will bear the costs, are unfair insofar as Upper Freehold Committee is unilaterally making this decision with zero input from Allentown’s governing body and its residents. All of these issues that new warehouses will bring are irreversible damages but are highly preventable.

Given that Allentown is the central hub for the surrounding area, our governing body will do everything in our power to protect this town and everyone that calls it home. That is why we are asking Upper Freehold and NJDEP to halt all of their plans for the warehouse developments, and we ask you to join us in creating a productive and historical Task Force. This Task Force would comprise two members of the government/elected officials of Allentown, Robbinsville, Upper Freehold, Hightstown, Mercer and Monmouth County Commissioners, our members of the state legislature, and one representative from NJDEP and NJDOT. The vision of this Task Force is to have a public open dialogue to discuss the warehouse development, truck traffic, and environmental protection and all the other common issues with which our municipalities are struggling. These conversations will hopefully lead to us finding a common ground that will benefit the safety, security, prosperity, and longevity of our towns and their residents.

We, the Allentown Governing Body, take our oaths of office to our country, state, and towns with the utmost sincerity and we encourage you to do the same by joining us for these inter-municipality open dialogue discussions. This issue is not unique to just Allentown, Robbinsville, Hightstown, or Upper Freehold, but is being seen in many municipalities across our State. We hope our actions here will show that the small towns of New Jersey have a voice and will not be overshadowed and ignored by large corporations and those trying to seek profit over the safety of our towns and our lives. With that being said, we hope Upper Freehold joins these conversations in good faith as the fate of our towns and state are in jeopardy.

Nikki Darling, Erica DeKranes, Michael Drennan, John Elder, Thomas Fritts, Martha Johnson, and Daniel Payson are members of the Allentown Borough Council

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