NORTH HALEDON — The mayor of this Passaic County borough is defending his decision to place a large, light-up star atop High Mountain, an area bordering Wayne Township, saying that two complaints in two years do not constitute ample justification for a nature group's demand to remove it.

"THE STAR HAS GIVEN US HOPE THROUGH THE PANDEMIC," Mayor Randy George wrote on a page of North Haledon's official borough website.

According to a CBS New York report, George said he received permission from Wayne officials, the state's Green Acres program, and The Nature Conservancy to erect the star in 2020.

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But The Nature Conservancy, a minority owner of the mountain, has said that's not so, and on March 23, ordered the star taken down within seven days.

George has refused and has started a petition to keep the star, while writing TNC back to explain his position and claiming he has received no response.

CBS New York reported that the petition has already received hundreds of signatures.

That does not seem to have convinced TNC, which told CBS New York it had "become aware of individuals climbing the star."

But it's not clear just how much say the organization has in the matter. A letter to TNC from Wayne Mayor Christopher Vergano reiterated that township's position as majority owner of High Mountain, and expressed its support for George and North Haledon.

"The Township of Wayne stands behind the Mayor and the people of North Haledon," Vergano's letter said, "and [sic] do not object to the placement of the star."

George instructed those in favor of keeping the star to contact Dr. Barbara Brummer, New Jersey director of The Nature Conservancy, at bbrummer@tnc.org or 908-879-7262.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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