Legends development plan draws objections

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:51

    VERNON-The Township Environmental Commission wants the developers of a proposed 362-unit resort complex on the site of the Legends Resort to pay for experts to determine if any endangered or threatened species of plants or animals inhabit the site. But representatives of Spring Creek Holding Company said they are not willing to do something they are not required to do by law. This was the main development at Monday's third of at least four hearings on site plans for the resort that would go up on both sides of Route 517. The environmental commission, which is advisory, has recommended against building the Spring Creek project. But the plan, on a scale nearly twice as large as that now proposed, was approved 15 years ago. Current hearings are on how best to build it. Craig Williams, chairman of the commission, distributed a report and maps to the zoning board, all of which, he said, addressed concerns about the effect of the building on ground water and theatened or endangered species that may or may not live on the site. State environmental law regulates building in wetlands where threatened and endangered species are found, but not outside of the wetlands. "The applicant is not willing to give money to the Environmental Commission to conduct studies," said Thomas F. Collins, Spring Creek's attorney. "I don't think it's an appropriate area of inquiry." Collins emphasized that the development, which would cover just 85 acres of the tract, "results in more open space and more habitat protection than that afforded by the original plan," which called for double the number of units. "That's our case," he added. Williams acknowledged that the law is not on his side, but, he said, if his commission could establish the existence of such species, "there's got to be a moral issue here."