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Evergreen Woods Residents Appeal to County on Parkway Sound Wall

Cars whiz by the Evergreen Woods development with only a thin layer of trees in between the highway and 2,000 residents' homes. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Cars whiz by the Evergreen Woods development with only a thin layer of trees in between the highway and 2,000 residents’ homes. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Residents of Brick’s Evergreen Woods condominium development have appeared at every meeting of the township council and New Jersey Turnpike Authority commissioners over the past several years, but have now started taking their case to the Ocean County freeholder board.

Residents of the community, which backs up to the southbound lanes of the Garden State Parkway, have been vocally opposing the Turnpike Authority’s decision against building a sound wall between the highway and their neighborhood. The authority claims the neighborhood doesn’t qualify for a wall, but residents have said the state agency has used technicalities to get out of providing the barrier, which they claim would reduce noise and pollution that has increased since the shoulders were widened and thousands of trees were removed.

The residents are seeking a 1,389 foot barrier wall. The state has offered to plant a 200 foot-long row of of trees, which one resident said would apparently not be maintained by the authority after the initial planting.

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“The trees are too short to provide any visual blocking,” said Stephen Brill, one of the residents leading the charge against the authority

Brill brought his case to the freeholders last week after the Turnpike Authority used the county’s involvement in the Interchange 91 realignment project as reasoning why certain state policies on sound walls do not apply in the case of Evergreen Woods. At the most recent meeting of the authority’s commissioners, circumstances under which a sound wall may have been required at Evergreen Woods were dismissed, Brill said, because the county’s involvement in the interchange project exempts the authority from having to follow its policies on the matter. Similarly, state Department of Transportation policies do not apply either, since the Garden State Parkway comes under the jurisdiction of the Turnpike Authority.

County officials said they would direct Brill’s concerns to County Engineer John Ernst, who just took over the post two weeks ago following the retirement of Frank Scarantino.

“A sound barrier was warranted,” Brill said.