Next OAL Hearing on 3/29 nothing short of OutRAGEous

By Middletown Township Committeeman Tony Fiore

Tony Fiore

On March 29th, thousands of residents and local elected officials from Monmouth County will converge upon the Collins Arena at Brookdale to speak against the proposed Monmouth County Reliability Project as proposed by First Energy and its subsidiary JCP&L.  This additional hearing called for by Office of Administrative Law Judge Gail Cookson, follows a meeting held on January 25th at Middletown High School North where thousands attended and many were turned away.  As an elected official in Middletown who will not have the opportunity to speak at this meeting per the Judge’s request, I will not remain silent with the question I would have asked Judge Cookson:  What’s the point of this hearing?

While it may appear that Judge Cookson’s decision to hold another hearing for the public is a good step towards transparency and good governance, her actions thus far indicate otherwise.   To date, JCP&L has not been granted any rights or approvals from NJ Transit to proceed with this project within the NJ Transit right of way.  Also, JCP&L has no legal right to condemnation over NJ Transit’s property. Accordingly, in October, legal representatives of the affected municipalities filed a motion with Judge Cookson to stop this project from proceeding until JCP&L can demonstrate that it has secured the necessary property rights and approvals from NJ Transit to proceed.

After all, why should taxpayers and ratepayers be on the hook to fight a proposal that JCP&L may never get the necessary property rights to move forward with?  Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have already been expended by all sides to date.  During the January 25th hearing at Middletown North, several residents asked Judge Cookson directly when she was going to rule on our motion as there was no indication at that time.

What is curious is why Judge Cookson refused to answer this direct question when in fact, on January 13, 2017, she had already ruled against our motion.  What is even more curious is how she failed to serve any of the towns, or our legal representatives, with her ruling.  These actions are absolutely outrageous and have since prompted the municipalities to appeal the motion directly to the Board of Public Utilities.

As a representative, and more importantly a taxpayer and homeowner in Middletown, Judge Cookson’s actions to date do not give me great confidence in this process.   I urge everyone to show up on March 29th to Brookdale and be sure to ask Judge Cookson the question I would ask.  What’s the point of proceeding when JCP&L does not have the property rights necessary for its devastating project to proceed?


Posted: March 19th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: JCP&L, Middletown, Monmouth County News, Tony Fiore | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

7 Comments on “Next OAL Hearing on 3/29 nothing short of OutRAGEous”

  1. My guess is, said at 10:39 am on March 19th, 2017:

    despite all the ongoing protests, the project ultimately goes through. We are growing so fast here, the demand will exceed the concerns- we are stuck.

  2. Pam Larrabee said at 11:05 am on March 19th, 2017:

    The proceedings should at the least be stayed until JCP&L obtains the ROW and I would add all the other necessary permits that are listed in their Petition and they are numerous. A motion to stay can be filed under NJAC 1:1-12.2 and a determination must be made by the court w/in 30 days. The section also provides for filing for an expedited decision.
    The motion to dismiss should have been decided w/in the 30 days per NJAC 1:1-12.2 also as there are only 3 exceptions listed anda motion to dimiss is not one of them.

  3. Wrong said at 11:26 am on March 19th, 2017:

    @my guess is – this is not about filling some need for capacity, according to JCP&L themselves, it is a third backup to existing transmission lines. This boondoggle is not needed and will only cost the ratepayers millions of dollars for no discernable benefit.

  4. Say what you will, said at 11:47 am on March 19th, 2017:

    but they are a powerful company, with a lot of influence over politicians. Will be surprised if they do not ultimately prevail.

  5. Every politician said at 12:06 pm on March 19th, 2017:

    with the exception of one has come out against this insane proposal. If Chris Smith can get the feds to withold federal funding from NJ Transit, this disaster can be averted.

  6. Often comes down to said at 12:45 pm on March 19th, 2017:

    money vs. votes. Will see what prevails.

  7. jim capo said at 1:17 pm on March 19th, 2017:

    While the committeeman’s comments are on point, does this send the wrong message to JCP&L that perhaps RAGE is starting to waiver in their opposition. Not sure that the judge may appreciate the criticism.