In a statement released by Councilman Joe Irace yesterday and posted on the Oceanport website , the borough complains that the only public notification that Woodbine Cemetery was seeking to build a crematorium was in a public notice published in the Home News, an Asbury Park Press affiliated publication that is distributed in Middlesex and Somerset counties.
The borough became aware of the situation via a letter from the Department of Environmental Protection informing them that Woodbine was seeking an Air Pollution Control Permit.
Oceanport Administrator John Bennett was surprised by the notification from DEP because in 2002, as Acting Governor, Bennett signed legislation into law that required that municipal governing bodies approve the construction of crematoriums within their boundaries. However that law was repealed in 2011. The current law gives the New Jersey Cemetery Board the authority to approve crematorium construction permits. The Cemetery Board must inform the Commissioner of Health of the application, according to the statement. Municipalities now have no authority to approve or disapprove of a crematorium in their communities.
The cemetery industry is well represented on the board that regulates it in New Jersey. The New Jersey Cemetery Board is comprised of a rabbi, the former president of a mosque, a representative of the Department of Health and Senior Services, a representative of the Attorney General and four owners or managers of cemeteries. Governor Chris Christie has nominated a fifth representative of the cemetery industry to fill a vacancy on the board.
Bennett has issued a strong statement on behalf of the Mayor and Council condemning the public notice in an out of town publication and entered the borough’s objection to the issuance of the Air Pollution Control Permit.
The Mayor and Council have requested a public hearing on the application and the Borough Engineer, William White of Maser Consulting, has raised technical questions to be answered.
In the statement, the governing body pledged to take whatever steps permitted under the law to stop this invasion into a prime residential section of our town. “Smokestacks do not belong in residential neighborhoods and we are opposed to this attempt. We also feel that there has not been sufficient notice to allow the residents of Oceanport to be heard on an issue that concerns many of them. Notice in an out of town paper is just wrong.”