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Environmentalists sue over Six Flags solar installation

JACKSON, N.J. Several environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against Jackson Township, Six Flags Great Adventure, and solar energy company KDC Solar L.L.C. over the theme park’s planned solar power facility, which will require razing 90 acres of forest to build.

JACKSON, N.J. Several environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against Jackson Township, Six Flags Great Adventure, and solar energy company KDC Solar L.L.C. over the theme park's planned solar power facility, which will require razing 90 acres of forest to build.

Environmentalists have criticized the plan for cutting down nearly 19,000 trees to create the state's largest solar facility, which would be owned and operated by KDC Solar on the Six Flags property.

"Destroying 90 acres of forested habitat in the internationally renowned Pine Barrens is a bad idea on its face, but doing so under the guise of an environmentally beneficial project is absurd," Alison Mitchell, policy director for New Jersey Conservation Foundation, said in a news release.

The other groups suing Six Flags are Clean Water Action, Save Barnegat Bay, and Crosswicks Creek Doctors Creek Watershed Association. New Jersey's Sierra Club branch said it expected to join the suit once it receives the national group's blessing.

The suit accuses Jackson Township's council and planning board of failing to follow the proper procedures for studying and approving the project, including not getting a necessary letter from the state Department of Environmental Protection, not considering alternatives to deforestation in the environmental impact statement, and not following the township's zoning restrictions according to its municipal master plan.

Environmentalists also question the speed of the application process. The application for the project was filed the same day the Six Flags property was rezoned to allow the solar facility, the groups said in a news release, and they said public records' requests showed "Jackson professional staff did not comment on the substance of the application and the reports of Great Adventure appear to be accepted on face value and without question."

"If a Jackson resident takes down a tree in their own backyard, they have to jump through hoops, as the tree removal ordinance is so stringent," Janet Tauro, New Jersey board chair of Clean Water Action, said in the news release, "but Great Adventure plans to clear cut 18,000 trees and the application flies through liked greased lightning."

— Inquirer staff

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