The 17 nonprofit conservation organizations that make up the South Jersey Bayshore Coalition would like to commend the Millville City Planning Board on its draft land-use plan for the 395-acre area along the east side of Union Lake. Not only does the city deserve credit for devising a plan that strikes a sufficient balance between development and protecting Union Lake, but it did so after taking extra care to engage all interested stakeholders in a highly transparent input-gathering process.
The resulting plan clearly addresses many concerns raised by the public, which urged the city to reduce traffic congestion and development densities while increasing open space for wildlife conservation, public recreation and increased access to the gem that is Union Lake. The plan is a fine example of how development and nature-protection goals do not needlessly need to compete, and how with thoughtful planning can be united as part of an overall economic strategy. It doesn't work with every parcel of land, and we advocated having the entire tract preserved, but in this instance the city's plan strikes a commendable balance that deserves residents' support and final approval by the planning board.
By contrast, representatives of the Wawa Corp. have re-submitted the very same plan they presented to the cityin 2009, which calls for far greater commercial and residential development near the lake, where the city alternatively proposes open space. The city should soundly reject it. The very impetus for the city's comprehensive planning study was to avoid the very impacts Wawa's plan would revive. It would mean congested traffic circulation and even less open space than that proposed in the former massive residential development plan by Matzel and Mumford - a plan that residents soundly rejected for the very same reasons the city should reject the Wawa plan now.
(Matthew Blake is manager of the American Littoral Society's Delaware Bay Program and a member of the South Jersey Bayshore Coalition.)