SOD Shows Up To Speak Out at Zoning Board Meeting
Public questioning of New Milford Redevelopment Associates expert testimony postponed; SOD speaks to Patch.
Members of the newly formed grassroots group SOD (Stop Over Development) came out prepared to question the testimony of New Milford Redevelopment Associates (NMRA) engineer, Michael Dipple, a principal of L2A Land Design in Englewood who spent four hours at the April 19 meeting testifying about flooding and the water infiltration system and basins that NMRA has included in their site plans.
At the conclusion of the April 19 meeting of the Zoning Board it was determined that the May 8 meeting would pick up with the public portion of the meeting where the audience would be afforded the opportunity to question the applicant's expert.
However, Zoning Board attorney Scott Sproviero told Tuesday's audience that the board has no control over who will testify on behalf of the applicant.
"The applicant determines who will testify on their behalf," Sproviero told the crowd that filled the council chamber to capacity.
Although the engineer for the applicant was present, attorneys for the New Milford Redevelopment Associates instead chose to have their affordable housing expert, Dr. David Kinsey, continue his testimony regarding the development of the United Water property as an "inherently beneficial use" in that it would provide low and moderate income housing that will help New Milford reach its "Fair Share Housing Standard."
Upon finding out that the public would not have an opportunity to question the testimony of the applicant's engineer, Miriam Pickett, one of the founding members of SOD, told Patch, "It doesn't surprise me. They're trying to avoid us asking them questions and getting them on the record."
"This is a way for them to get around us getting them on the record," Pickett added.
Columbia Avenue resident and SOD member Ulisses Cabrerra said, "As concerned citizens we're just addressing the argument that Rich Henning (V.P. of United Water) pointed out to us when he appeared at the Novemeber 28 meeting of the Mayor and Council."
Cabrerra is referring to the statement Henning made regarding development in the flood plains. During that meeting, Henning said that New Milford's decision to develop in the flood plains is largely to blame for the flooding problem that the town is experiencing today.
Henning elaborated by saying that prior to the 1960's, 75 percent of rainwater was absorbed by grassland while 25 percent went into the brooks and streams. The development boom in Bergen and Rockland Counties that began in the 1960's resulted in almost 100 percent of the run-off going into the brooks and streams. All of this development culminated in the 1980's with increased water supply needs.
Henning said at the November 28 meeting, "We need to restore our flood plains. They were there for a reason."
Henning also stated that the only way to completely solve New Milford's flooding problem is to restore that area to the natural flood plain.
Acting on that momentum, SOD is basing its movement, in large part, on the argument that the flood plains need to be restored. Pickett said that because the DEP maps show that the United Water property resides in or near the flood zone, SOD firmly believes that the United Water property falls inside the flood zone and should not be developed.
Dr. Kinsey's testimony took up all of the time allotted to NMRA, meaning that SOD will have to hold its questions until the Zoning Board's May 17 meeting that Sproviero established will be dedicated entirely to NMRA. At that meeting, the public will also be afforded the opportunity to question the applicant's experts.
The May 17 Zoning Board meeting will be held in Council Chambers at Borough Hall and will begin at 7pm.