Merck’s Sewer “Camp-Out” — Holding Whitehouse Station Sewer Rights It Hasn’t Used, For 23 Years

Since early 1988, Merck has been “reserving” some 142,000 gallons of daily sewer water capacity, in Readington township, New Jersey — right next to Whitehouse Station. To be fair here, Merck helped build the expanded sewer capacity, so it ought to get some priority rights. But now, some 23 years later — only one third of the reserved-capacity is being used by Merck — while other, newer, businesses are unable to get permits, due in part to the size of Merck’s “camp-out” in/on the sewer pipes (gotta’ love the imagery — see graphic, no?).

Soon, Merck’s stay will be decided — and it may be that others will get to move in, and occupy, Merck’s vacant “reserved” capacity — per

On Sept. 6, Superior Court Judge Peter Buchsbaum ruled that within 90 days, the township must exercise its discretion to “recapture” unused sewer capacity as allowed under the township sewer ordinance. . . .

In his written opinion, released on Sept. 21, Buchsbaum criticized the township for not providing a legitimate reason for denying Readington Realty’s request for sewer capacity. Buchsbaum wrote that the ordinance requires the exercise of discretion, not simply a flat policy that the township would never exercise its rights under the ordinance.

Merck. . . then filed motions for a stay of his ruling, pending appeal.

Merck owns most of the unused sewer rights. On June 30, 1988, Merck was granted preliminary approval for a development project, only part of which has since been completed. Merck also helped pay for the expansion of the sewer system in exchange for getting the right to use 141,900 gallons per day of sewer capacity. Merck is using only 46,900, according to court records. . . .

Other property owners also helped pay for the system expansion in exchange for varying amounts of sewer capacity. Some projects have been built and are using the sewer system; others have not even come before the Planning Board, while others are just about to start construction. . . .

We’ll keep camping out on this, in our specially designed “sewer pipe hotel” (source of original German-eco-hotel image above at that link) near Readington. Ick. It sure is eco-friendly/green/brown, though, I guess.


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