Press Release: Gillespie & Donnelly react to Moorestown Township Council’s loss in affordable housing lawsuit
Candidates say Council’s missteps responsible for derailing Pennrose plan
On November 2, 2018, Burlington County Superior Court Judge Ronald Bookbinder granted summary judgement against Moorestown Township and in favor of Moorestown residents, who challenged Council’s rezoning ordinance that would have allowed for developing affordable housing at the proposed Pennrose site on Route 38 near Fellowship Road. Moorestown Council Democratic candidates Brian Donnelly and Nicole Gillespie issued the following statement with respect to the judge’s ruling:
“Today’s decision by Judge Bookbinder reinforces that our current Council, under Republican leadership, continues to demonstrate poor planning in managing our affordable housing obligation, including the Pennrose site. The Township did not follow the law required for rezoning, which the Judge considered “fatal” to the ordinance and led to its being rejected in court. Moreover, the same lack of planning has led to multiple lawsuits, leaving the affordable housing issue still unsettled. Remarkably, Republicans on Council have repeatedly argued on record that no backup plan has been developed, and one Republican Candidate in this year’s race has stated their belief that Moorestown could not have planned for our affordable housing obligations. These comments reflect a profound and concerning lack of proactivity on what is a major issue for our town.
The lost time and money, and the burden placed on residents who are being forced to litigate this issue due to lack of long-term vision and planning are unacceptable. When elected, we promise to be transparent with residents, seek professionals who can capably manage our affordable housing obligation, and be proactive - not reactive - in our Township’s planning to implement that obligation.”
PRESS RELEASE: NICOLE GILLESPIE AND BRIAN DONNELLY, CANDIDATES FOR MOORESTOWN COUNCIL, ON THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION (DEP) APPROVAL OF RECONSTRUCTION PLANS FOR THE NORTH CHURCH STREET AND HARTFORD ROAD WATER TREATMENT PLANTS
Democratic Township Council candidates Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly issued the following statement in response to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approval of plans to rebuild Moorestown’s Hartford Road and North Church Street water treatment plants:
“We once again thank the DEP for its continued diligence and collaboration in addressing our water contamination issues in Moorestown. We also thank the many citizen groups who for the past 5 years have tirelessly advocated Council to address these issues, and without whose constant vigilance this approval would not have been possible.
The approval announced on November 1, 2018 highlights the fact that 1,4-dioxane is an unsafe contaminant and carcinogen. Throughout our campaign, we have routinely and forcefully called for a permanent solution for filtering 1,4-dioxane from our drinking supply. Since the first reports of water contamination beginning in 2014, numerous attempts by Council to downplay the potential negative effects of these contaminants on our health have been well documented. This most recent DEP approval, and statements made by Council in conjunction with that approval, make clear that Council misled the public on the risks of 1,4-dioxane, and through inaction contributed to delays in protecting Moorestown residents from exposure to it in our drinking water.
Additionally, we reiterate our concerns with the lack of transparency on reported costs for rebuilding the Hartford Road and North Church plants. As we have pointed out previously, in 2016 preliminary estimates for these plants by our township engineering professionals, Alaimo Consulting Group, were approximately $7 million each. The most recent estimates have ballooned to almost $19 million and $12 million, without adequate justification or documentation. With deadlines for construction and completion looming, Council has provided residents and taxpayers no cohesive plan for how these plants will be built - or how we will pay for them. Through their borrow-and-spend approach, the current Republican-controlled Council has saddled us with nearly $60 million dollars in debt, to be increasing by $40 million over the next 5 years. We continue to pay excessive amounts to purchase water from NJ American Water (NJAW), which has already cost taxpayers almost $6 million above our contractual obligations thanks to the prolonged timelines upon which Council has been acting. Furthermore, we are now faced with an increase in rates from NJAW, real costs that Moorestown ratepayers will be forced to absorb until our plants are in production and we can renegotiate our NJAW contract.
Finally, we have repeatedly called on Council to take concrete steps to find and retain a firm who will help recover tens of millions of dollars in costs for Moorestown taxpayers (see our prior statements available at https://www.moorestownforward.net/news/). For over a year, this Council has failed to do so. The announcement today highlights the urgency of aggressively pursuing polluters, to ensure that Moorestown taxpayers are not left on the hook for these enormous costs.
Today's approval highlights the urgent need for change in our leadership. From day one, our campaign has been based on fundamental principles of transparent government that listens to and works with all residents to solve our challenges; true financial responsibility and accountability to taxpayers; and working with our business community to grow our economy, including through adequate infrastructure. Moorestown residents and businesses deserve leaders who will credibly and proactively communicate with residents about their safety, who have the professional experience to develop a concrete plan for our water infrastructure that protects residents with a sense of urgency and doesn't lead to unsustainable debt, and who will work with experts to aggressively recover costs from polluters. Our promise is that, when elected, we will be those leaders for Moorestown.”
Press release: Moorestown Council Candidates Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly Statement on Resolution 185-2018, Granting EPA Access for Groundwater Testing
Moorestown Council Democratic candidates Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly reacted to the passage of Township resolution 185-2018 on October 15, 2018, which grants the US EPA access to place test wells at the Cinnaminson superfund site, by releasing the following statement:
“We thank EPA for their continued diligence in testing and remediation of superfund sites in our area, including the Cinnaminson site. However, resolution 185-2018 does not address one of the fundamental issues with our water contamination – pursuing cost recovery for the tens of millions in taxpayer dollars required for the permanent treatment solution and its future ongoing costs to provide clean drinking water for residents.
Contrary to prior statements from Council, the EPA is not currently considering testing for one of the main contaminants in our drinking water supply, 1,2,3- trichloropropane (TCP). More importantly, and also contrary to Council’s statements, the proposed EPA testing at the Cinnaminson site in no way impacts our ability to seek and retain a qualified firm to investigate, advise and ultimately pursue cost recovery from polluters who have contaminated the many potential sites that are contributing to the ongoing contamination issue.
Last year, Council discussed hiring a qualified firm to help recover damages from polluters. Our then- Mayor was quoted in the Burlington County Times saying we would find the “kind of firm that has experience in New Jersey with fighting for towns in getting recovery money for those contaminants.” Over a year later, there has been no action by majority Council to find such a firm. As recently as this March, Council members erroneously claimed that cost recovery likely wouldn’t be an option, because the New Jersey DEP would be establishing a limit for TCP higher than our pretreated water. This point was definitively refuted when, in September, DEP officially set a TCP limit of 30 parts per trillion (ppt), which is 3 times below our most recent measurement (93 ppt) in 2017.
We believe residents deserve transparent leaders who will provide regular, timely and factual information on the status of our water clean-up and cost recovery efforts. We also believe that residents deserve competent, professional leaders who will proactively engage the appropriate experts to help identify and pursue cost recovery from polluters, while at the same time delivering an on-time and on-budget permanent solution for treating our contaminated water supply. When elected, we will lay out a comprehensive plan for remedying our water contamination issues, including how to responsibly pay for it. We will also aggressively pursue polluters to ensure they are held financially accountable, in order to shift the financial burden away from Moorestown taxpayers.”
Press release: Moorestown Council Candidates Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly Statement on Memorial Field Development
Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly have released the following statement in response to a recent proposal to develop Memorial Field:
"Our position is that the current council should have engaged ALL stakeholders in discussions BEFORE any decisions were made or money was spent. This lack of transparency on the part of our local government is one of the key reasons we are running for Moorestown Council.
As veterans, we are strongly opposed to disrupting the memorials to the four Moorestown service members who sacrificed their lives in Vietnam. We stand with the veterans’ community in calling for a halt to any plans that do not take into consideration the sanctity of these memorials and the concerns and desires of the families of these men, the veterans who took the lead on dedicating the baseball fields in their honor, and local veterans.
We understand that the proposed lighting would negatively impact the neighborhoods surrounding Memorial Field. At this point, we do not know if there are other options available for lighting, but we feel strongly that residents of those neighborhoods must be involved in discussions, and their concerns heard, regarding ANY lighting that is to be added to the fields.
We also feel strongly that organized sports are an important part of our community, and that increasing participation in sports means that we, as a community, should find ways to meet those needs. We stand with residents who are calling for a more open discussion of what those needs are and what our options are for meeting them.
Last but not least, we share residents’ concerns about how changes to the usage of Memorial Field might affect traffic on S. Church Street. The intersection of S. Church and Route 38 has a significant crash history and the NJ DOT ranks it as the second highest congestion priority in the entire state. Plans to add a 70-unit apartment building just east of it will only exacerbate the problem. We are opposed to any changes to Memorial Field that would compound the traffic problems on S. Church Street.
We welcome continued, open and transparent conversations with residents, veterans, and those involved in sports about these issues."
Press release: Moorestown Council Candidates Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly Vow to Address Toxic Contaminants in Drinking Water Supply and to Seek Damages from Polluters
Moorestown Council Democratic candidates Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly released the following statement, in response to the limit set by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the toxic drinking water contaminant 1, 2, 3-trichloropropane (TCP). TCP is a chemical in pesticides with human cancer-related effects, and has been found at unacceptably high levels in the Moorestown water supply since 2013. On September 4, 2018 the DEP set a maximum concentration level (MCL) of 30 parts per trillion (ppt) for TCP. At the most recent measurement in 2017, Moorestown’s water source still contained TCP at levels of 93 ppt, over 3 times the maximum limit set by the DEP.
“We are glad that a limit on one of Moorestown’s longstanding and dangerous drinking water contaminants, TCP, has finally been set by the DEP. Residents are rightly concerned about the safety of their drinking water. Although the DEP limit of 30 ppt is a step in the right direction, it is twice as high as the limit proposed by Senator Troy Singleton (S74), and 6 times as high as the limit set by the state of California based on best science of the known impacts of TCP on human health.
Moorestown deserves leadership that will finally take this problem seriously, address the concerns of residents factually and transparently, and identify clear plans and timelines for a permanent solution to the contaminants in our drinking water. The stop-gap filtration systems currently in place cost millions of dollars, and don’t address other dangerous contaminants in our water like 1,4-dioxane. Furthermore, these filters have already been in place for longer than intended. It is unacceptable that current Council has laid out no long-term plan for a permanent fix, likely to cost taxpayers on the order of tens of millions of dollars in future debt. Equally concerning, current leadership has taken no meaningful action to hold polluters accountable and recover damages for taxpayers, despite promising to do so more than a year ago.
There is nothing more important to us than the health, safety and long-term financial security of our town. If elected on November 6, we promise Moorestown residents that we will do everything within our ability to permanently eliminate detectable levels of toxic contaminants such as TCP, tricholoroethylene, and 1,4-dioxane in our drinking water. We will routinely, transparently and proactively communicate and engage with residents, to ensure the highest levels of quality information are being provided to the public. We will lay out a long-term plan for how we will remedy our water contamination issues, including how to responsibly pay for it. Finally, we will aggressively pursue the polluters to ensure they are held financially accountable.”
Growing up, Brian Donnelly followed his father and became a Republican. As an adult he voted for George W. Bush and John McCain for president.
But the Moorestown resident supported Barack Obama's reelection, and when he was left to pick between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016, Donnelly, 42, wrote in moderate Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.
Under President Trump, Donnelly's break with the GOP is complete. After first becoming an independent, he registered as a Democrat last year and is running for township council in his affluent South Jersey town, part of a suburban backlash against the president.
"It's an integrity thing. I don't believe that they represent what they have stood for in any way since I was a child, since I saw Ronald Reagan rise up," said Donnelly, a corporate attorney who is also a lawyer in the Army reserve. He added that Republicans "have put their heads in the sand about what they are about, and I'm not going to be part of it."Continue reading »
Gillespie and Donnelly discuss their plans for Moorestown’s future should they earn residents’ votes.
As proud Moorestown residents and first-time candidates for township council, it’s hard to describe the gratitude and excitement that we feel coming out of primary election day. Since declaring our candidacy in April, we have been fortunate to talk with many of you — both residents and business owners — learning what you believe makes our town so special and what concerns you have for our future. We are grateful to have earned the endorsement of the Moorestown Democratic Committee, and the support of our state legislators, Senator Troy Singleton, Assemblywoman Carol Murphy and Assemblyman Herb Conaway as well as Freeholders Balvir Singh and Tom Pullion. Most importantly, on election day we were humbled and honored to earn so many voters’ trust to appear on the ballot this Nov. 6.Continue reading »
The November 6 election has Democrats Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly and Republicans Jamie Boren and Manuel Delgado vying for two open seats.Continue reading »
"This year’s elections are expected to draw an unusual amount of interest from voters as it marks the middle of President Donald Trump’s four-year term in office. And while the establishment candidates running for U.S. Senate and House seats will be heavily favored to secure their respective party’s nominations this summer, most of them are facing one or more challengers in the primary....
Democratic nominations for two four-year terms on the Township Council: Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly"Continue reading »
Gillespie and Donnelly congratulate Delgado and Boren on their candidacy.Continue reading »
Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly would like to debate Deputy Mayor Manny Delgado and Jamie Boren in the municipal elections for 2 seats.Continue reading »
The Moorestown Democratic Committee is pleased to announce the endorsements of Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly as their 2018 candidates for Moorestown Township Council. Two military veterans with more than 30 years of combined service, Gillespie and Donnelly are now focused on and committed to serving the Moorestown community.Continue reading »
Nicole Gillespie and Brian Donnelly are running for two open, four-year seats on Moorestown Council.Continue reading »