Flood Solution Group Offers to Work With Hillsdale Officials
The Hillsdale & Westwood Flood Solution Group's attorney said some flooding along the Pascack Brook can be stopped.
The Hillsdale & Westwood Flood Solution Group, an organization of residents affected or concerned by flooding, offered to work more closely with the Hillsdale government during a borough council meeting Tuesday night.
Donald MacLachlan, an attorney representing the group, said that the council should form a committee tasked with advising the governing body on resolving the flooding problem along the Pascack Brook.
MacLachlan said the committee could help with formulating a plan and also finding funding for any projects needed for the plan. The state government is currently "highly sensitive" to flooding issues, he said.
The upcoming United Water project to upgrade the dam at the Woodcliff Lake Reservoir is one focus of the group, but not their exclusive interest, MacLachlan said.
"This goes beyond the current United Water project," MacLachlan said. "It goes to the heart of the Pascack Brook."
Hillsdale officials have said they want the borough's Planning Board to review the project's potential effects on flooding downstream. The Department of Environmental Protection has required United Water to double the rate at which water can flow into the brook.
Mayor Max Arnowitz said borough officials were waiting to get a report from a dam engineer they hired to review the project's impact on flooding.
"I think we'll be in a better position to decide what we'll do and how we'll do it," Arnowitz said.
The group's offer follows a decision from the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) in which the board declined to decide United Water's request that the Department of Environmental Protection has sole authority over the project.
The Flood Solution Group has already participated in the dispute over the dam's review, having been legally recognized by the BPU as an "intervenor." The group also qualifies as an "interested party" under the state Municipal Land Use Law, according to MacLachlan.
Had the BPU agreed with United Water's petition, it would have meant the Planning Board would not have had authority to review the plans. The petition was dismissed without prejudice.
"Our view is: Hillsdale has concurrent jurisdiction," MacLachlan said.
A lawsuit filed by United Water against Hillsdale, seeking to void two borough ordinances, is currently pending. The parties are scheduled to meet with a judge next week.
Arnowitz said borough attorney Eric Bernstein and Councilman Larry Meyerson would meet with MacLachlan to discuss the case, but would not necessarily "team up."