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Stop the Lines group launches balloons to raise awareness

BY LAURA BRUNO • STAFF WRITER • October 11, 2009

ANDOVER TWP. -- John Bradford was driving along Limecrest Road near Long Pond School and spotted the red balloon.


The nearly 200-foot high beacon stunned the Andover Township resident who is concerned about PSE&G's $750 million proposal to "upgrade'' a 46-mile major power line from the Pennsylvania border through Morris and Sussex counties to Roseland.

"Wow, that's huge and that's one balloon,'' Bradford said of his reaction upon seeing how tall PSE&G's new lines would stand in the landscape. "Everywhere you go you'll see these things ... it'll cut down on the beauty not only in Sussex County but in much of North Jersey.''

That's the effect Stop the Lines and Andover Township Mayor Bob Smith hoped for when two red balloons were launched in the air Saturday from a strip mall on Newton Sparta Road. One showed the 73 foot height of existing lines and another showed the 195 foot top height of the proposed lines.

"This is the time to speak,'' Smith said to a handful of passersby who stopped to get more information about the proposal and hear the opposition's case. "What I hope this does is bring awareness. Some people don't realize what's happening.

The Board of Public Utilities will begin hearing PSE&G's case on Nov. 16. PSE&G is seeking approval for the project from the BPU, rather than the 15 municipalities through which the line runs. PSE&G chose this route saying local zoning officers could not "reasonably be expected to balance local interests against the greater good of the consuming public.''

In a prepared statement, PSE&G said Stop the Lines and Andover residents will get to voice their concerns during the BPU proceedings.

"We will continue to work with them ... throughout this regulatory review process to address any concerns they may have,'' said spokeswoman Bonnie Sheppard. "We are confident this project will be approved.''

Bradford and Arlene Kane of Andover Township also expressed concerns about the impact of the new lines on their homes. Bradford said he's concerned his home sits in the path of the proposed lines which could mean PSE&G could take his home and offer him market value for the site -- which he pointed out is far lower these days due to the collapsed housing market.

Kane stopped by the display because she is selling her house and planning to move out of state.

"Of course it's a concern for a potential buyer,'' Kane said. "It's a little scary I could see the balloon for miles. It's like that cell tower at the municipal building that's unsightly.''

"And that's lower,'' Smith responded.

Not everyone who stopped to look at the balloons were against the project.

Michael Cooper of Andover said he doesn't have a problem with the lines.

"You want solar and wind power ... but you don't want power lines. How are you going to get the power from any sources to your house without lines.''

The proposed lines through Sussex and Morris would not serve the area, which is primarily served by JCP&L, explained a Stop the Lines volunteer.

"Just because the lines aren't feeding Sussex County doesn't mean they aren't good for the populace as a whole,'' Cooper said.

Laura Bruno: 973-428-6626; lbruno@gannett.com

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ebonypoo wrote:
10/11/2009 7:34:07 AM
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