This could be your last chance to speak on power line plan for Monmouth County
Seats may be hard to find Wednesday night inside the auditorium of Middletown North High School.
A much-awaited public hearing on a proposed system upgrade by Jersey Central Power & Light is scheduled for 7 p.m., and hundreds of Monmouth County residents opposed to the project have expressed interest in attending and finally getting their voices on the record.
It's likely the hearing will be the only one to welcome comments from the public. It was scheduled by the Office of Administrative Law, responding to a petition from JCP&L to install a 10-mile, 230-kilovolt transmission line along NJ Transit's North Jersey Coast rail line right-of-way.
According to a spokesperson for FirstEnergy, the parent company of JCP&L, the Monmouth County Reliability Project is necessary to provide customers with the reliable electricity they depend on.
The $111 million proposal is meant to benefit nearly 214,000 customers in Monmouth County. It would run through five towns from Aberdeen to Red Bank.
But these benefits aren't worth the trouble the project would create, according to thousands of county residents who belong to the grassroots organization known as RAGE: Residents Against Giant Electric.
Through only one Facebook discussion, more than 500 people have said they're interested in attending the public hearing, according to group member and Middletown resident Judy Musa.
"We found a lot of evidence to suggest that this project is not needed," Musa told New Jersey 101.5. "We also think that it's really dangerous. There are numerous health and safety risks and environmental impacts."
And, Musa said, the poles at 110 to 210-feet each would be visible from great distances, affecting the aesthetics of certain towns.
This project would be the first of its kind in the United States to run along an active commuter line and through densely populated neighborhoods. Musa said her home sits about 120 feet from the site of the proposed lines.
"We are urging people to come (to the hearing), and even if we don't speak publicly, everyone can submit a written statement," she said.
According to the Office of Administrative Law, six additional hearings on the issue are scheduled for April, but they will not accept comments from the public.
More from New Jersey 101.5:
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.