Public Comment Session Over For Proposed Wal-Mart
State environmental officials are now sifting through hundreds of comments from the public regarding a proposed Wal-Mart Super Center for the Toms River-Manchester border.
The recent settlement between developer, Jaylin Holdings and the State Department of Environmental Protection is on the table. Construction permits could be issued by the Spring and after years of problems, mainly centered around a pine snake on the property, things are finally getting off the ground.
The store would replace the existing Walmart on Route 37 near Mule Road and would include a full grocery store inside. The 189,797-square foot retail store would also feature a garden center and parking lot as well as a new access road to the busy Route 37 area.
At this point, environmentalists are bristling at the agreement. Environmental advocates say there's still a great danger to both the pine snake and the health of the Barnegat Bay. However, Larry Ragonese with the DEP says the settlement makes concessions to not only protect the snakes but also to make sure stormwater runoff during construction and after doesn't harm the watershed.
Ragonese says "they are taking our recommendations and requirements into play when they finally begin development. We are closely monitoring things and will continue to do so."
The developer has agreed to preserve 212 acres of forest on the site that will remain untouched and take stormwater protections for the Barnegat Bay to new levels. It will deal with the stormwater runoff issue with a series of basins. The endangered pine snakes will be moved off the property onto another section of woodlands and a fence will be built to protect it.