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(HAMILTON TWP.) – Central Jersey Assembly Members Linda R. Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Wayne P. DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) today urged Governor Christie to work with them to help the taxpayers of towns affected by the deforestation of hundreds of acres of trees resulting from the widening of the New Jersey Turnpike. Under the state’s No Net Loss Act and in accordance with agreements between state agencies and several municipalities, towns were to be provided with aid to offset the cost of replanting trees. However, the Administration moved to redirect up to $10 million through the state budget to fund state parks.

The lawmakers asked the Governor to partner with them to help the communities by preventing the transfer of state funds initially intended to offset the costs of reforestation.

“While we know that three municipalities have sought a judicial remedy, time is of the essence in this matter and we urge your immediate intervention to help these towns and taxpayers. Therefore, we ask you to exercise your executive authority to direct administration officials at interested state agencies to immediately freeze any inter-agency transfer of funds initially intended for reforestation, pending the outcome of the court decision. But notwithstanding the results of the legal challenge, we ask you to consider whether it is right or just to impose this outcome on towns that have detrimentally relied and depended upon the State’s representation that they would be made whole,” Greenstein and DeAngelo wrote in their letter to Governor Christie.

“We believe that taxpayers in the affected towns will ultimately bear the financial burden if anticipated state aid is not provided in keeping with extensive agreements. Not only do we believe that these towns will be short-changed by approximately $15 million, but diverting funds flies in the face of the spirit of the No New Loss Act,” added the Assembly Members.

Several Central Jersey municipalities including Hamilton Township, Cranbury, East Windsor, Robbinsville and others will lose up to $15 million in state aid. Hundreds of acres of land already have been cleared because of the widening project.