Bedminster couple says health concerns were ignored
$ GHFDGH DIWHR fiRVW warning about the possible negative impact of a then-planned neighboring development, Bedminster residents Barry and Mary Rogers now say their fears have materialized.
The about 100-acre subdivision at Deer Run and Fretz Valley roads was approved in 2002. That’s the same year Barry Rogers sent a letter to the township questioning if the township reviews of the plans provided adequate protections.
In 2009, Mary Rogers was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, then earlier this year, with a second cancer, Follicular Lymphoma, the couple said. In 2009, Barry Rogers was diagnosed as having lost 60 percent of his kidney function, they said. There have also been other cases of cancer in the neighborhood in recent years, the Rogerses said.
They say contamination in their and neighboring wells, caused by a large drop in the well’s water level after the development was built, is suspected of leading to their cancer.
“What you have here is a flDwHG LPSDFW VWuGy DOORwing a guy to go in and build 11 homes which overtaxed the aquifer,” Barry Rogers said following the Aug. 8 Bedminster Township Board of Supervisors meeting.
An herbicide commonly used by farmers in the township has also been linked to cancer, the Rogerses said during the meeting.
“As far back as 2009, I brought to the board’s attention that I am having problems with my well, including increased sedi- ment, low water pressure and a beyond safe arsenic level that had not existed before the development,” Mary Rogers wrote in a statement she read aloud during the public comment portion of the meeting.
The township, however, did nothing to help out then or since, the Rogerses said.
“We and our counsel are convinced that the board has ignored my request for our well remediation because to acknowledge my well problem will link the increased levels of arsenic, my developing two forms of cancer and their lack of due diligence which led to the approval for the development,” reads a portion of the statement, copies of which were distributed at the meeting.
“You didn’t want to talk to us. You dug in your heels,” Mary Rogers said during discussion at the meeting.
Board member Glenn Wismer, however, said the township has done its job.
“We feel sorry for your health problems, but we feel as a township, we’re not responsible for that,” Wismer said. The township didn’t fiQG DQy HYLGHQFH WHH GHYHOopment caused the problem, he said.
The Rogerses also questioned why the township RHFHQWOy PDGH D fiQDQFLDO settlement to resolve well issues with one neighbor farther away from the development, but then put a “gag order” on it so other neighERRV wRuOGQ’W fiQG RuW.
“How naive are these people that thought this wouldn’t get out?” Barry Rogers said.
Township Solicitor Peter Nelson said, though, that there was no effort to keep the agreement with the neighbor a secret.
“There is no gag order,” Nelson said. “He can talk to you about the agreement. He can give you a copy of the agreement.”
The money for the settlement came from a fund required to be set up by the developer, not from tax money, Wismer said.
Board Chairman Morgan Cowperthwaite said the board could not give an answer at the Aug. 8 meeting on whether well remediation funding would be provided, but said the Rogerses could meet with Township Manager Jack Terry to discuss the matter. The Rogerses said they are frustrated with years of being ignored and declined to meet with Terry.
Following the meeting, the Rogerses said Mary’s treatment has included chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants, necessitating lengthy hospitalizations at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, as well as Barry’s temporary move to that area as her caretaker.
The couple has been using bottled water for drinking, but continued to use the well water for other purposes, which led to additional health problems, including rashes, they said.
A remedial two-tank system that will deal only with the arsenic is being installed at the home.
“Each tank is about $1,500. Depending on your usage, they’ll last six months to a year,” Barry Rogers said. “It’s like adding $3,000 to your tax bill.”
The biggest issue, though, isn’t the money, he said, but the health problems that his wife has had in the past few years.
“When my water was clean, she was clean,” Barry Rogers said. “In my opinion, it’s too much of a coincidence.”