TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Four former New Jersey governors want to delay a vote on Gov. Chris Christie's appointment for a southern New Jersey panel overseeing a million-acre pine reserve.

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Democratic governors Brendan Byrne and James Florio joined Republicans Christine Todd Whitman and Tom Kean Sr. in asking the state Senate to withhold a confirmation vote on Robert Barr.

The governors voiced their opinion on Christie's Pinelands Commission appointment in a letter sent to all senators dated Monday. The four say they believe the nomination would "undermine the independence" of the commission.

"The Senate can preserve the integrity of the Pinelands program, and help protect the work of other independent executive agencies, by withholding confirmation of this nomination at this time," the governors wrote.

The controversy over the appointment stretches back to a January 2014, vote when the commission blocked a plan from South Jersey Gas to connect a pipeline from Maurice River Township in Cumberland County to the BL England plant in Upper Township in Cape May County.

The Christie administration supported the project, but environmental groups opposed it.

Christie tapped Barr to succeed Robert Jackson, who opposed the pipeline.

Barr's confirmation has been held up once already, when the state Senate Judiciary Committee postponed a vote on his nomination in October. It was in February when state Sen. Ray Lesniak, who opposes the nomination, was absent that committee reached enough votes to advance the nomination to the floor.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney, who controls the Senate agenda, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday.
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