Burlington County reappoints Sean Earlen to Pinelands Commission

Members of the Pineland Preservation Alliance are crying foul over the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ practices for appointing the county’s representative to the Pinelands Commission — the body charged with enforcing regulations in New Jersey’s Pinelands National Reserve.

On November 26, the freeholders voted 3-2 to reappoint Sean Earlen as the county’s representative on the 15-member Commission. Preservation Alliance members weren’t pleased with that, because Earlen was one of the members who voted in favor of a South Jersey Gas pipeline in January, 2013.

Although the pipeline proposal eventually failed when Commission members deadlocked on the issue, environmental activists are afraid that it will come up for a vote again, and have accused pipeline supporters including Gov. Chris Christie with stacking the Commission with pipeline supporters.

But the big complaint, according to Preservation Alliance spokeswoman Becky Free, is that the Board of Chosen Freeholders gave first notice of a vote on the Commission rep two days before the vote took place, and declined to say in advance who the nominee would be. Then the vote took place the day before Thanksgiving, which wasn’t likely to draw many members of the public. Despite that, Free said, the Preservation Alliance managed to get about 15 people to the meeting.

“The process by freeholders in Burlington County is not conducive to transparency,” Free said.

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This post is part of our South Jersey Politics Blog.

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