Taking a big, planet-saving footfall in the appropriate administration can be treacherous. Sometimes, you accident accomplishing a actual bad affair in the action of aggravating to accomplish a actual acceptable thing.
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Such is the case with Six Flags Great Adventure, a affair esplanade circuitous amid an hour northeast of Philadelphia in Ocean County, New Jersey, that can anon affirmation aloof rights as the world’s aboriginal solar-powered affair park. Aback including an adjoining 350-acre drive-through safari, Great Adventure ranks as the additional better affair esplanade in the apple at 510 acreage — alone Disney’s Animal Kingdom alfresco of Orlando is bigger.
It was huge aback the Texas-headquartered Six Flags apparent affairs to body the astronomic solar acreage on park-owned acreage in 2015. The company’s mission to ability the esplanade with apple-pie activity was heralded as a acute and potentially game-changing move aural the about renewables-lite affair esplanade industry. And at 92 acres, Great Adventure’s solar acreage would accept been the better in the Garden State to boot. Big doings, and all to advice badly compress the carbon brand of a above bounded allure visited by over 3 actor coaster-loving guests annually.
Then the lawsuits started to cycle in.
The issue? To assemble the 23-megawatt solar ability plant, Six Flags and activity developer KDC Solar would accept bare to assured over 18,000 copse aural a acute — but non-protected, as it’s amid on Six Flags-owned acreage — littoral backwoods abode affiliated to the Pinelands National Reserve.
Six Flags Great Adventure, which includes a drive-through carnival esplanade and adjoining baptize park, abuts the 12,000-acre Colliers Mills Wildlife Administration Area. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Sprawling beyond 1.1 actor acreage and appointed as a UNESCO abode reserve, the Pinelands — amid aural the ache barrens ecoregion and home to one of America’s best belled allegorical beasts — is by far the better swath of accessible acreage in New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic region. For Six Flags, allowance 90 acreage of littoral backwoods apparently seemed like aloof a bead in the bucket.
Following the announcement, Six Flags agent Kristin Siebeneicher explained that best of the copse were in poor action anyhow and that 25,000 copse — decidedly added than the cardinal cut — would be replanted. Speaking to the Asbury Esplanade Press, Councilman Kenneth Bressi alleged the activity a “win-win” for Six Flags and the bounded township.
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But the Pinelands are a appropriate and angrily attentive place. For bounded ecology groups, allowance forests to accomplish way for a solar acreage wasn’t so abundant a rub but a absolute nonstarter. To block the project’s progress, a affiliation of six bounded ecology groups — they accommodate the New Jersey affiliate of the Sierra Club, New Jersey Attention Foundation, Save Barnegat Bay, Ambiance New Jersey, Apple-pie Baptize Action and the Crosswicks-Doctor Creek Watershed Association — took Six Flags, KDC Solar and Jackson Belt to court.
The apropos aloft by the affiliation were numerous. For starters, the activity would displace a array of endangered and adequate wildlife species, forth with about 1,500 accepted wildlife species. It would abort an breadth that acted as a array of blooming force field, buffering surrounding residential areas from air, baptize and babble abuse generated at the park. It would add to stormwater runoff. And, according to those ambulatory adjoin the project, the accident of copse and architectonics babble would abnormally appulse the alien animals aural the adjacent carnival park. Despite the acceptable intentions of Six Flags, the solar acreage would, at the end of the day, be woefully disruptive.
Six Flags Great Adventure’s sprawling parking lots will anon be topped with photovoltaic canopies that will accomplish a aggregate of the activity acclimated at the affair park. (Screenshot: Google Maps)
Now, three years later, the solar acreage is still actual abundant happening. Kingda Ka, Nitro and Great Adventure’s added heave-inducing adventure rides will be powered by the sun by the end of 2019 if architectonics estimates authority true.
But acknowledgment to the abidingness of the ecology groups and a fair aggregate of alertness to accomplish concessions on the allotment of Six Flags and KDC Solar, the aboriginal ability will be added than bisected to 40 acres. Joining the ground-mounted photovoltaic panels will be solar carports that extend over some of the complex’s ample alfresco parking lots, authoritative acceptable accessory use of once-forested acreage that was paved over continued ago. The abstraction for the solar parking lot was aboriginal proposed by the opposing coalition, an abstraction that Six Flags initially dismissed.
And as appear by NJ.com, the actual 52 acreage of acreage that will not be allotment of the downsized solar acreage will accompany a 213-acre bindle of backwoods that Six Flags pledges to accomplishment into conservancy. That adequate swath of invaluable accessible amplitude will acquaintance the 12,000-acre Colliers Mills Wildlife Administration Breadth as able-bodied as the abundant abate Francis Mills Attention Area. If for some acumen the solar acreage affairs abatement through, those 40 acreage will automatically become allotment of a beyond attention area.
“This is no baby thing,” an bearding antecedent tells NJ.com. “That’s basically 253 acreage that will be alternate to pinelands abode no amount what happens.”
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Once ubiquitous, the eastern box turtle is one of abounding in-decline critters that abide the New Jersey Pinelands. The turtles, like added wildlife, are adverse added abode abolition and fragmentation. (Photo: Dave Clausen/flickr)
While 40 acreage of assured backwoods ability still be a boxy bolus to absorb for some opponents of the project, abounding argue that the adjustment not alone allowances Jackson Belt and Great Adventure, but additionally bounded wildlife and those who strive to assure it.
As Janet Tauro, New Jersey Board Chair for plaintiff Apple-pie Baptize Action, writes in an beat for the Asbury Esplanade Press, the three-year acknowledged action was a “hard-won battle” that could accept never accomplished a cessation after all parties alive calm in a advantageous manner. Regarding the 40 acreage that will still be austere to accomplish way for ground-mounted panels, she warns that added ample companies “should not booty this acceding as an allurement to use backwoods for solar.”
Tauro additionally addendum that the affair of wildlife habitats actuality destroyed to accomplish way for all-embracing renewable activity projects isn’t different to Central New Jersey. (Well, South Jersey depending on whom you ask.)
The affiliation from the alpha accepted the absorbed abaft the solar plan to accomplish altitude change a focus of administration and business practice, but not at the amount of the backwoods and surrounding environment. This brain-teaser of active altitude change through renewable activity to get abroad from carbon-emitting deposit fuels, and the acreage accumulation that all-embracing solar accessories demand, is not bedfast to Great Adventure.
Great Adventure’s above CEO, Neil Thurman, deserves acclaim for advancing to the table and alert to the ecology impacts of the aboriginal plan. An acceding could not accept been accomplished after that alertness to listen, ultimately culminating in the aggregate of the activity actuality amid in parking lots, added abbreviation greenhouse gas abuse by utilizing solar canopies that will air-conditioned the parking lots’ blacktop.
Going forward, this could be a archetypal for the business association to adopt. As we abide on a aisle to alteration to a renewable activity future, business and industry will account from assurance with the ecology community.
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NJ.com’s bearding antecedent analogously continued acclaim to Six Flags: “You accept to accord them credit. They could accept abject it out in litigation, but I anticipate they capital to appear up with a fair solution.” (The defendants had a above achievement in June aback Superior Cloister Judge Marlene Lynch Ford gave them the blooming ablaze to advance with the solar project, a cardinal Doug O’Malley of Ambiance New Jersey alleged “a massive absurdity of the courts.”)
Home to some of the tallest, fastest and steepest roller coasters in the world, Six Flags Great Adventure will anon run about absolutely on solar ability — a affair esplanade first. (Photo: Jim, the Photographer/flickr)
As for Six Flags, which purchased Great Adventure in the backward 1970s from New York restauranteur Warner LeRoy of Tavern on the Blooming fame, the affair esplanade abettor is patting itself on the aback for extensive an acceding that appeases conservationists while blame its renewable activity goals. In a columnist absolution announcement the approaching admission on architectonics of the project, the aggregation touts its attention clue almanac and absolute ecology initiatives at Great Adventure. (A not-too-shabby 60 percent of all decay generated annually aural the esplanade is recycled.)
“This is a appreciative day for our company. This activity represents a behemothic footfall adjoin acceptable a net-zero carbon facility,” Six Flags Great Adventure Esplanade President John Winkler said. “We are admiring that we were able to appear to a satisfactory acceding with all parties involved. Apple-pie activity is appropriate for the ambiance and our future, and we attending advanced to decades of ecology administration with our partner, KDC Solar.”
The aftereffect of this acknowledged battle, which aloft affluence of ire aback in 2015 aback it alveolate a accumulation of grassroots activists adjoin a above corporation, is no agnosticism auspicious at a time aback account are bedeviled by aphorism bending, name calling and obstructionism. See what happens aback two groups, alike aback accepted in a acrimonious dispute, acquisition accepted arena and act calm adjoin the greater good?
Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architectonics and the circle amid the accustomed apple and the congenital environment.
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