SOD Plans Protest March For Monday

SOD marching down River Road in protest of the planned development of United Water property.

A march in protest of the proposed development of the United Water property is being organized by SOD (Stop Over Development) for Monday, September 24 at 6 p.m. prior to the Mayor and Council meeting.

SOD presented the Mayor and Council with a petition containing 1100 signatures during their September 10 work session. It was during that work session that Mayor Ann Subrizi informed the council that a phone call placed to Peter Hekemian, the developer currently in contract with United Water to purchase the 13-acre property, revealed that if the council rezones the United Water property, the original offer he made to the town in April of 2011 is still on the table.

The original offer that Hekemian made to the Mayor and Council and presented to the residents of New Milford in April 2011 included a 145-space parking lot for use by the borough and school district, and a graded field that could be developed into a soccer field, as well as a new ShopRite, a family restaurant, bank and 10,000 square feet of commercial space for local merchants.

The application currently being heard by the planning board calls for a 70,500 sq. ft. supermarket, a 4300 sq. ft. bank and 221 four-story unit housing complex, with 40 units set aside to satisfy New Milford's COAH requirements, a 428-space multi-level parking garage and a pool. 

SOD organized in opposition to the size and scope of this proposed development because it is adjacent to areas that have suffered three major floods and to the High School. Also, SOD believes that if approved, the development will introduce dangerous levels of traffic to a residential area and the apartment component will strain the already overburdened school system. 

Also at the September 10 work session, Councilwoman Hedy Grant put forth a motion to appoint a special counsel to investigate the failure of the Mayor and Council to purchase the United Water property or take any further action regarding it. That motion failed, but the motion put forth by Councilman Diego Robalino to consider rezoning the United Water property and having the borough planner craft a rezoning ordinance passed with Councilwoman Randi Duffie's consenting vote. 

Marchers will assemble on the corner of River Road and Cecchino Drive at 5:30 p.m. As the march progresses south on River Road, SOD members will meet other groups of marchers along the way and all will arrive at the New Milford Borough Hall between 6pm and 6:30 pm. Marchers will be carrying signs.

Following the march, SOD will attend the Mayor and Council meeting at 7 p.m.

Click here for more information on SOD.

To contact SOD, email at Sodnow@yahoo.com.


Get local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. It’s simple and fast: sign-up here.

miriam pickett September 21, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Join us! It's time for our elected officials to understand exactly how unpopular this projrct is! The more people, the greater the impact!
Michelle September 21, 2012 at 12:41 PM
I will be there with my family! United we stand...
Ulises September 21, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Thanks Jimmy, but we need New Milford residents to give them hell not just me. Hope you could make the protest. Michelle, I'll also be there with my family and friends... Everyone, please spread the word and ask the M&C to not rezone this to commercial. If you're against increase traffic, increase demand on public services, increase road repair, etc... due to a mega ShopRite strip mall by the our high school and senior center - then join our protest and let the M&C know changing the zoning to commercial is the wrong thing to do. The M&C are ignoring many concerned citizens in town and surrounding towns too. They are looking to compromise in the developer's best interest rather than the town's. Tell them "NO COMMERCIAL ZONING" by the high school and along the river - we don't need this traffic nightmare and urbanization they envision as a good thing.
Lori Barton September 21, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I will be there with my family, too. This cuts across generations. I'm curious to see who will be the oldest participant and who will be the youngest. If you have a lawn sign, bring it. If not, come to the gazebo and we will give you a sign to carry. Or make one of your own. Be creative! Just be sure to come. It is important to show just how many of us are against rezoning this property to commercial. While we all want a new ShopRite, we don't want it there! Let ShopRite rebuild where they are (and already have the approvals to rebuild) and keep the UW property green. Stop OverDevelopment...Keep New Milford Green!
miriam pickett September 21, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Join us at our sign making party, Saturday, at the Senior Center between 2 and 4. We'll supply the posterboard and markers and light refreshments. Come and meet your neighbors. Let's do this together!
Darren Drake September 21, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I'll definitely be at the march
Rick September 21, 2012 at 07:36 PM
and "Good Morning, New Milford" will be there to record & document the event, making it available to the public on youtube.com/radioinfom to the hundreds of viewers who track our story locally & state-wide. Anyone wishing to speak on behalf of SOD should seek me out at the corner of River Edge Ave. & River Rd. and/or at Boro Hall.
Rosemary Fuhrman September 24, 2012 at 12:35 AM
New Milford needs as many people as possible to join this demonstration. We need to stand united to let the Mayor know how unpopular this proposed development is. Take a stand to continue the quality instruction in our schools. Take a stand to keep traffic under control in our town. Take a stand to demand plans to control devastating flooding. Meet at the corner of River Road and Milford Avenue OR at the Borough Hall at 5:30 p.m. We have signs...we just need YOU!
concerned resident too September 24, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Sounds like if you're against increased traffic, increased demand on public services and increased road repair, etc. due to a field of dreams at our middle school, and surrounded by a residential area, then all SOD supporters should vote NO to the ballot question on election day! Prove to everyone that you truly are against overdevelopment and it's not just about being built in your backyard!
Sheldon Cooper September 24, 2012 at 02:10 PM
If a hundred people show up, it will be a miracle. Small, loud group with a selfish interest and lots of publicity. Pathetic manipulation.
Sheldon Cooper September 24, 2012 at 03:03 PM
You are a hypocrite who changes his mind every time a new issue comes up. The Hekemien property is nothing but a useless piece of land that should be utilized to add revenue to your town treasury and increase the amount of affordable homes for wonderful new families by bringing a multicultural face to New Caucasia. Do a demographic search on your town. The breakdown will say it all.
Ulises September 24, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Mr. Copper, all those SOD signs around town are selfish interest? Oradell getting involved because they are concerned about traffic is selfish interest? Making people aware of all the incorrect data the developer is presenting is selfish interest? Exposing the Mayor and Council for hoarding information and lying about it, oh I'm sorry, they call it having no recollection, is selfish interest? How is trying to stop overdevelopment along the river selfish? Please explain your theory. On a different note and for the record, SOD is not the Field of Dreams. They are two separate groups and everyone thinks we are one - but we’re not. It would help more if their vision to build their dream field was by the high school rather than the Middle School (with real sod and real estimates on cost; its way over their original $2M estimate I was originally for). How can we vote “yes” on a referendum if there’s no final numbers available and it can be anywhere from $3-$4M? Our environmental friends will come up with most of the money to buy this land if the Mayor and Council keeps the UW land as Open Space, which our Mayor is refusing to do and she’ll lead us to becoming Hudson County II and lower all our property values ever more.
Sheldon Cooper September 24, 2012 at 03:28 PM
So your group is against the Field of Dreams? To be fair, I don't care about that. I just think everyone should have the benefit of living in from what I understand is a well run village. Good bye.
Mark G September 24, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Instead of trying to buy the UW property, the council members asking the county to fund the purchase should be looking for funding to buy out the properties on the riverfront. $8,000,0000 would buy out 20 properties valued at $400,000 each or 40 properties valued at $200,000 each. That would make more sense. Your environmental friends will come up with most of the money? How and where will they get it? Government grants? private donations? Shed light on this for us, $8,000,000 is a large #.
Michelle September 24, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Sheldon, you sound angry and scared. Why are you afraid? Because as you say this rally is well publicized, which means people are free to come to the meeting and speak their minds. I must say that your reasons for being for this thing are strange to me – to dilute the Caucasian-ness of New Milford? -- but I certainly respect that that’s your opinion and you are very much entitled to it. Just as we are ours. If you had attended any of the Zoning Board meetings though, you would have seen all races in attendance, as well as many of the major religions. All we are doing here is exercising our Constitutional liberties, and utilizing the American avenue of speaking to our leaders. Freedom of speech, the right of the people to peaceably assemble, to collectively express and promote our common interests, the right to protest -- our first amendment rights. Once that’s squelched the health of a community dies, and we are no longer free.
Michelle September 24, 2012 at 05:42 PM
As for selfish, are you saying also that half the Council is selfish? Councilman Ashley, Councilwoman Grant and Council President Howard Berner who are all against this development and have publicly made their positions known? Also our Zoning Board Chairman who recused himself because he is aware of the potential harm this development will be to our environment? Your comments against Ulises are also off base. He’s consistent in his message, and if ever any of us change our positions, it’s because we have been enlightened. Don’t be angry. Come to the meeting and tell them how you feel. You have a right to be heard just as much as we do. And Mark G., where there is a will, there is a way.
Ulises September 24, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Mr. Cooper, SOD and the Field of Dreams are two separate groups and many in town think we're the same group. So there are some SOD members for and some against the proposal made by the Field of Dreams. Two separate groups, with different missions. Mark G, in your vision, by buying up those homes, we permanently lose tax revenues of $200-400K each year but we still have a mega ShopRite Strip Mall with another bank and we would have knocked down about 300 mature trees so we can all see the big ShopRite sign (not to mention all the through streets traffic this will create, which means more future road repairs, resulting in a tax depletion of all the revenue this eyesore strip mall will produce). I don’t know where the environmental group pulls their funds from but when we sat with them, gave them $7.5M price tag they said it’s doable if the M&C is willing to keep this as Open Space, which Colucci, Robalino and Subrizi don’t want. Rather than giving a chance for this last possible shot of hope, they’re rushing to side with all these outside companies (Inserra, United Water, & Hekeminian) by changing the zoning, which in turn will change this town forever (What's the rush???). I hope they change their minds and if they don’t, I hope many realize the big misstate these officials made.
Mary McElroy September 24, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Ulises, I know you were not able to attend the presentation by Boswell last week but there was a very complete overview of the proposed layout for the field at DEO & in addition to costs being covered, the full layout was reviewed as well as drainage, lighting, & proposed additional parking. A number of questions were asked by those both pro & con. I don't think it would ever make sense for this field to be sod, whether it were by the HS or MS -the turf field allows for multi-use play & only a turf field will 'dramatically increase drainage' in this case at the MS as per Mr. Boswell. A turf field meets the needs of the town in terms of multi-sport, relieves over-crowding & solves flooding/poor drainage issues. Another benefit of turf is the elimination of our geese problem. Mr. Boswell said $3 million was the correct range-based upon his experience and bids currently out with other towns. We have also applied for grants but will not know until next year what, if anything, will be available to us. I hope he comes back & makes a presentation to the M&C & that you & others are able to attend &get the correct info. because only then will you know what you are voting on. Like many of us, I'm opposed to the UW property being rezoned & I'm not sure what will ever happen there, but I don't think the answers are not coming anytime soon. Right now, we have a referendum that if passed, would allow us to have the money to build a new field.
Ulises September 24, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Hi Mary, thank you for the clarification. My main point was to let everyone know SOD and the Field of Dreams are two separate groups. A lot of people in town don't realize this.
Rosemary Fuhrman September 24, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Well, a guess we had a miracle. So many concerned citizens showed up, it was heartwarming.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something