Tilcon proposes to expand New Jersey quarrying

Tilcon New York hopes to expand its quarrying operation in Bloomingdale, New Jersey, by purchasing a neighboring 180-acre tract of land.

Under a proposal to be presented at a borough council meeting Tuesday night, the construction material company would purchase the 180-acre Meer Tract and deed 35 acres to Bloomingdale to be developed as affordable housing.

The Meer family has owned the tract for nearly 50 years. Eugene Meer said past attempts to develop the land failed, in part due to the economy, in part due to difficulty getting approvals.

A 2008 Superior Court decision forced the borough to allow for affordable housing on the tract, also known as Federal Hill. In a statement, Tilcon, a subsidiary of multinational building products and materials company Oldcastle, said it would perform site work to allow for the construction of affordable housing.

Meer said he couldn’t see how the property could be developed any other way. “I think the town’s got a good deal if they approve those plans,” he said.

The borough must rezone the Meer Tract to allow Tilcon to mine the land. Bloomingdale would benefit by coming into compliance with its affordable housing requirement, Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy said, and reap additional tax revenue from the expanded quarry operation.

But environmental groups like the Pequannock River Coalition and the Sierra Club have raised concerns.

In a presentation before the council February 3, Tilcon officials said the expanded quarry would boost tax revenues, the local economy and employment. The expansion likely won’t take place for another 60 years, when the usefulness of its existing quarry reaches its limit.

Tilcon also said the expanded quarry wouldn’t be visible to the neighborhood. The company is legally required to reclaim the land after mining operations cease, and provided examples of past reclamation sites like Tilcon Lake in Mt. Olive, a former quarry that flooded and is now stocked with salmon for fishing.
Dunleavy said he and the council would study the proposal carefully.

“You have an element that’s against change and against extending the quarry,” he said. “My position is, if there’s an opportunity for potential revenue that could stabilize taxes, then it’s absolutely the obligation of the governing body to explore that concept.”

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