Year in Review, Jan Through June 2012 in New Milford
A look back at the first half of the year that was in local news: New Milford 2012.
The year began with New Milford's Planning Board formally denying an application filed by Paramus-based developer S. Hekemian Group asking for preliminary and final site plan approval for the 13-acre United Water property.
The application was denied citing violations to New Milford's zoning codes, moving the application over to the Zoning Board. The application was denied on the grounds that Hekemian needed a "D" variance, which is required when an applicant seeks a change in land use and if the proposed height of the buildings exceed the town's requirements. In the case of the United Water property, Hekemian is seeking to have the use changed from residential to mixed-use.
New Milford Police reported that three smash and grab burglaries occured along Main Street in January. What's Cooking and Lantern Chinese were broken into; the glass door on Lieto's Italia Restorante had been shattered, but no entry had been gained.
New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro said that Garfield and Clifton reported similar burglaries on the same night.
William Escobar, owner of What's Cooking, reported that burglars gained access to the restaurant by smashing all of the glass out of the front door, taking $100 in cash from the register along with approximately $200 in coins that was kept on a counter below the register.
The New Milford Volunteer Fire Department rang in the New Year with tradition by installing its officers for 2012. James Tufaro was sworn in as Chief of the Department and officers representing both Company 1 and Company 2 were also installed. Outgoing Fire Chief Ralph Leonardi received a pin for his service from Councilman Dominic Colucci, who is also council liaison to the fire department.
Company 2 played host to the event which was attended by department members, their friends and family, officers from other local fire departments and local officials including Mayor Ann Subrizi, Council President Howard Berner, council members Dominic Colucci, Randi Duffie and Austin Ashley, and NMPD Chief Frank Papapietro, who is also a Life Member of Company 2.
New Milford High School Principal Eric Sheninger was selected by the National Association of Secondary Principals (NASSP) as one of three recipients of the first Digital Principal Award.
Named one of the "20 to Watch" by the National School Boards Association, Sheninger is a major presence on Twitter, with more than 17,000 followers in his professional learning network. Sheninger has said he looks for every digital opportunity to share his passion for fostering learning environments that are student-centered, collaborative, flexible, and prepare all learners to succeed in the 21st Century.
The fifth-graders at Solomon Schechter Day School in New Milford hosted "The Living Museum: A Celebration of Our Jewish Heritage" lending a palaple poignancy to the evening given the arsons at synagogues in Rutherford and Paramus.
Each student acted as curator to a family heirloom about which they explained the history. Contained in each presentation was the understanding that from their past, they will build their future.
On Valentine's Day, the hearing on the development of the United Water propery began before the Zoning Board. The meeting opened with the recusal of Chairman Karl Schaffenberger who recused himself from the proceedings citing the public comments he made regarding the environmental impact of the development of that property at the Nov. 28, 2011 meeting of the Mayor and Council where representatives from United Water were in attendance.
Despite the fact that he was speaking as a private citizen at the November meeting, Schaffenberger did not want to give the appearance of impropriety and stepped aside.
"I reserve the right to appear as a citizen and question the environmental impact that this or any development will have on storm water management and flooding," he said.
Following Schaffenberger's recusal, board member Fr. Aziz Hadodo recused himself for also making public statements regarding the development of the United Water property.
The application includes:
- 70,500 sq. ft. supermarket
- 4300 sq. ft. bank with two drive-thru lanes
- Four-story 221 unit multi-family housing complex, that will include an affordable housing component, a 428-space multi-level parking garage and a pool.
At the opening of the meeting, Sproviero told the crowd that a decision regarding the application would not be made at this hearing.
"We are months and months away from a determination," he said, citing the fact that there are many components to the project that need to be considered.
"This is a very important application for this community and its future," Sproviero said.
"The integrity of these proceedings are very important and procedurally we must do it right."
Athletic Field Committee Recommends Location of Multi-Purpose Field
The 'Field of Dreams' began in February when the Athletic Field Committee recommended to the Mayor and Council that the David E. Owens Middle School is the location best suited to support a new multi-purpose field. This field would be a shared service between the borough and the New Milford Board of Education.
Headed by Director of Recreation and Board of Education member John Bigger, the committee was appointed by Mayor Ann Subrizi to scout areas that could support a multi-purpose sports field after Hurricane Katrina and tropical storm Lee flooded the fields and prohibited New Milford sports teams from playing early fall home games.
The committee is comprised of townspeople, Superintendent of Schools Michael Polizzi, representatives from the Board of Education, NMHS Athletic Director Joe Ricciardelli and football coaches.
The Mayor and Council unanimously approved a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, making New Milford the first municipality in Bergen County to pass such a measure.
The resolution, sponsored by Councilwoman Hedy Grant, is a response to a string of anti-Semitic incidents that occurred in Bergen County, including the arson of area synagogues.
The month began with Mayor Ann Subrizi administering the oaths of office to six newly promoted lieutenants.
Papapietro had appeared before the mayor and council requesting permission to promote six sergeants to the rank of lieutenant and authorize administering the sergeants exam for patrol officers.
"The current rank structure no longer supports this organization," he told the mayor and council during that meeting. Papapietro explained that low staffing numbers due to attrition— particularly among the higher ranks — have left shifts without the necessary chain of command and proper supervision requiring officers to perform tasks outside of the scope of their rank, a practice, he stressed, that could open the town up to a potential lawsuit.
New Milford to Receive $1.2 Million From FEMA for Voluntary Home Buyouts from Damage During Hurricane Irene
Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez announced that FEMA has made earmarked more than $21 million in grant money for flood mitigation projects in New Jersey.
FEMA will provide $1.2 million for voluntary home buyouts in New Milford.
The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides funding for the voluntary buyouts or elevations of homes that have suffered severe flood damage due to Irene and other storms.
According to borough ordinance, "No poultry shall be kept or permitted to be kept in the Borough."
But Jeffrey DelVecchio is taking steps to change that. He and his family have taken many steps towards leading a healthier and more eco-friendly life: installing solar panels, driving a Toyota Prius, growing their own vegetables and using biodegradable diapers.
Raising chickens for fresh eggs just adds to the list of DelVecchio's green endeavors, but the Board of Health doesn't see it that way.
After he was served with a summons, DelVecchio appealed to the Board of Health to reconsider, appealed to the Mayor and Council for support and created an on-line petition in an effort to effect what he, and many others who have signed his petition, believes is positive change.
Responding to a call of a man hunting geese with a crossbow at Hardcastle Pond behind the Dorchester apartment complex, New Milford police arrested John Hall, 49, of Faller Drive, and charged him with three counts of weapons possession, one count of possession of a prohibited weapon and disorderly conduct.
New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro said, "A search of his duffle bag revealed two mini crossbows, one being loaded, and 60 six-inch arrows."
Also found were sleeves of crackers and numerous plastic shopping bags. Hall claimed that he was target shooting by Hardcastle Pond, but upon further questioning stated that he used the weapons for protection.
New Milford Police officers, Brian Clancy and Kevin Van Saders, responded to a call from a resident who had spotted a gray goose with an arrow protruding from its leg on the field near Hovnanian and Berkely schools.
Clancy and VanSaders tracked the goose to Pavone baseball field, adjacent to the Hardcastle Pond where a local man, John Hall, had been arrested in possession of a crossbow and a bag full of small arrows.
School Superintendent Michael Polizzi wanted to inform the residents of New Milford of the district's goals and said that within the confines of the 2 percent cap, the Board of Education is ensuring that the district maintains the current level of programming as well as the growth of the academies.
"We are extremely sensitive to the community and what taxpayers can afford," Polizzi said.
A little over two years ago, Polizzi inherited a fractured school district emerging from a decade of administrative instability —five superintendents in ten years. His first mission was to set forth progressive goals that would change the face of education to reflect the real world that these students will be entering upon graduation.
"For the first time there is stable leadership that has the support of the Board of Education to move a cohesive improvement agenda forward," Polizzi said.
New Milford has filed to be reimbursed for more than $116,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for costs associated with Hurricane Irene, which ravaged the town in August.
Police Chief Frank Papappietro, who is also New Milford's Emergency Management Coordinator, discussed the borough's reimburseable expenses related to Hurricane Irene.
"The $116,000 figure represents 75 percent of the costs associated with Irene," Papapietro said. "Costs include labor, overtime, equipment, debris removal from flooding and direct administrative costs."
A man who raped and murdered a New Milford woman in 1976 came up for parole for the fifth time since 1976, and her family asked the public's help to once again make sure he doesn't become a free man.
Christopher Righetti was eligible for parole on April 16, nearly 36 years after he killed Kim Montalero, a 20-year-old college student who he kidnapped from the Paramus Park Mall on Aug. 31, 1976, brutally raped and stabbed to death in a secluded area of the Pine Lake Swim Club in Washington Township.
New Milford 'Chicken Outlaw' Jeff DelVecchio was ordered by a judge to get rid of his chickens by March 20th and fined $539 for violating an ordinance that bans raising chickens.
Borough prosecutor Michael Kingman told DelVecchio that his choices were to plead not guilty, go to trial and face fines of up to $500 for every day that he was not in compliance with the law, or to take a plea deal, DelVecchio said.
During the Feb. 14 meeting, the borough's planner, Burgis Associates, was recused from the proceedings at the request of the applicant because the applicant's attorney performed work on behalf of the planner's wife.
Citing that the absence of "professional planning representation" gave him a "lack of comfort" in proceeding with the hearing, Zoning Board attorney Scott Sproviero recommended to the board that they not proceed with the hearing of the application by New Milford Redevelopment Associates for preliminary and final site plan approval for the 13-acre United Water property.
Burgis had to recuse itself from the hearings regarding the development of the United Water company by New Milford Redevelopment Associates.
Six police officers stood ready to take the oath of office and be promoted to the rank of sergeant. Their promotions become effective April 1. The sergeant's exam was administered on Feb. 29 and open to all candidates with a minimum of ten years of law enforcement service, eight served with the NMPD. 12 candidates took the test, with the top six selected for promotion.
Students from New Milford, Cresskill and Dumont high schools crowded the cafeteria and hallways of New Milford High School at the first Tri-Valley College Fair that was held April 4.
There were representatives from almost 100 colleges, universities and the military on hand to answer questions from students and their parents.
At a Feb. 14 hearing on the New Milford Redevelopment Association application seeking preliminary and final site plan approval for the 13-acre United Water property, attorneys for the NMRA said that development of the residential units has an "inherently beneficial use" with regard to the town's obligation to provide low-income housing.
The crux of David Kinsey's testimony Tuesday was "inherently beneficial use" and the borough's need to comply with its affordable housing obligation.
The Athletic Field Committee had recommended to the mayor and council in February that the David E. Owens Middle School is the location best suited to support a new multi-purpose community field. This field would be a shared service between the borough and the New Milford Board of Education.
New Milford has recently been awarded the designation of "Tree City USA" by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.
The Kindergarten classes at Berkley and Gibbs had a special visit on Friday from members of the Environmental Commission. Chairwoman Susan Klecha read "We Planted a Tree" by Diane Muldrow and Bob Staake, while Tammy Kaminski handed out saplings donated by Perrone Farms.
Bergen County School Board Association recognizes the achievements of Peggy Saslow by presenting her with an award for her dedication to service.
New Milford residents band together to fight the size and scope of the development of the United Water Property.
A white pine tree grown from a seed that flew on the Columbia Space Shuttle was given to New Milford by the N.J. Shade Tree Federation and planted at the library.
Flooding dominated much of the four hours of testimony that was provided by Michael Dipple, an engineer and principal of L2A Land Design in Englewood and expert for the applicant, New Milford Redevelopment Associates (NMRA). During the course of his testimony Dipple explained the water infiltration system and basins that NMRA has included in their site plans.
Sanzari's appears before the Zoning Board seeking variances to demolish two existing houses to construct a parking lot and expand restaurant.
The Mayor and Council voted to authorize Phillips Preiss and Grygiel, LLC (the appointed Zoning Board planner in the United Water property hearings) to proceed with a rezoning study of the 13-acre United Water property.
Approximately 200 hundred residents supported the effort and raised more than $12,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Retention and detention systems, elevations, and the impact of impervious surface area on flooding with the proposed development of the United Water property.
Despite the heat, hundreds of residents lined River Road waving American flags to celebrate America's veterans, and those currently serving in the armed forces, during the borough's annual Memorial Day parade. Mike Perrone, third generation owner of Perrone's Farm who served as a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, served as the Grand Marshal.
Upon successful completion of the training program at the Bergen County Police Academy in Mahwah, the six auxiliary recruits were sworn in by Mayor Ann Subrizi.
Auxiliary police is a volunteer program organized by emergency management and called to duty by the municipal police department. Auxiliary police officers (who are not paid) are under the direction of Police Chief Frank Papapietro when performing their duties, particularly in an emergency situation. New Milford's Auxiliary Police were especially vital during the floods that followed Hurricane Irene.
5th annual Senior Citizen Prom organized by NMHS Seniors in the Music and Art Honor Society draws a large crowd.
New Milford Daisies get a big personal thank you for their "Cookies for a Cause" campaign from a soldier who received the cookies while deployed in Afghanistan.
Company 2 meets with Mayor and Council to explore options for the future of their firehouse; discussion includes taking all emergency services structures into the future.
In honor of his years of dedication of service to New Milford, the town is presented with a portrait of former Auxiliary Police Chief Andrew Boele.
President of Board of Health tells DelVecchio that the Board's decision to deny his request to revise ordinance banning backyard chickens stands.
Excitement filled the air as New Milford High School seniors got ready for prom.
School Superintendent Michael Polizzi and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Danielle Shanley sat down with Patch to review the results of New Milford's State report card and discuss the changes they have already implemented that will "systemically redesign programs." Polizzi also discussed his "holistic plan" they are continually developing to positively shape and design change in the district, rather than being victim to change by operating primarily in crisis response mode.
The mayor and council was presented with a preliminary draft of the rezoning study of the 13-acre United Water property at Monday's work session by zoning board planner Paul Grygiel, of Phillips Preiss and Grygiel LLC.
In calling for a rezoning study at the mayor and council's May work session, Mayor Ann Subrizi specifically wants the planner to address the location of New Milford's affordable housing requirement under COAH (Council On Affordable Housing) that the 2004 Master Plan rests solely on the United Water property.
Expert on appraisal and land valuation analyzed three towns with shopping centers across from residential areas to determine affect on property values.
Because a church is a conditional use, not an existing use, attorney for applicant says only zoning board had jurisdiction to hear Gospel Fellowship Church's application.
High school students from New Milford, Midland Park, Kansas and California give overview of Holocaust Study Tour and talk about finding their place in history.
Oradell resident, Tom Belthoff, came before the Zoning Board to support New Milford residents opposed to the proposed development of the United Water property by New Milford Redevelopment Associates, whose president is Peter Hekemian of the S. Hekemian Group.
New Jersey State Parole Board denies Christopher Righettie parole.
New Milford graduates get words of wisdom to guide them in their future and help them to make their mark.
A PERC test was performed on the soil at David E. Owens Middle School field as a first step in determining if that location can even be considered a viable contender in the search for an athletic field of dreams.