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SOD Wages Grass-Roots Campaign Against Development of United Water Property

New Milford residents band together to fight the size and scope of the development of the United Water Property.

The inaugural meeting of New Milford's grass-roots group, Stop Over Development (SOD), was held Monday night at the .

SOD is the grass roots brainchild of one woman determined to stop the proposed development of the United Water property by New Milford Development Associates whose managing director is Peter Hekemian, Principal and V.P. of Development for the S. Hekemian Group.

That woman is Miriam Pickett. While attending the last hearing of the Zoning Board on April 19, Pickett noticed a number of people in the audience shaking their heads in disapproval of the development, but no one was talking to each other. She decided that night to get everyone's email in an effort to try and organize residents to band together against the development of the property. 

"This development will change the character of New Milford forever," Pickett said. "It will not only affect our quality of life, but it will affect the environment, traffic, and with traffic comes both air and noise pollution."

The application for the  includes: 

  • 70,500 sq ft supermarket 
  • 221 residential units with 428-spaced parking garage 
  • 88 one bedroom apartments; 117 two bedroom apartments; 16 three bedroom apartments
  • 4300 sq ft bank 

According to Pickett, the inaugural meeting of SOD brought out approximately 30 concerned residents. Pickett said that her main interest was that the meeting be constructive and productive.  

The group got to work right away forming committees designed to address every aspect of the developmental process:

  • Public Relations Committee will not only be the voice of the group, but it will build the relationship between SOD and the greater community (including surrounding towns) through the dissemination of information.
  • Research Committee will gather information on the areas of concern regarding the proposed development in an effort to better inform residents.
  • Environmental Committee will study the environmental impact on developing that property since it is located on or near wetlands. 
  • Finance committee will raise funds should money be needed to fight the proposed development.
  • Pounding Pavement Committee will be those people placing flyers in mailboxes to keep residents informed about the proposed development and upcoming meetings.
  • Questions Committee will formulate intelligent, cogent questions to be asked of each New Milford Development Associates expert after they give their testimony at Zoning Board meetings. 

SOD will also be reaching out to the residents of Oradell because they feel that this proposed development will directly impact their community as well. 

"The Oradell community will be profoundly affected by increased traffic, noise and air pollution," Pickett said. 

If you are interested in becoming a member of SOD, email Miriam Pickett at nounitedwaterdev@yahoo.com.

Ulises May 04, 2012 at 04:08 PM
The elephant in the room in this real estate transaction is Suez/United Water. They preached to us, at last year’s Mayor and Council meeting, that flooding is caused by overdevelopment and in the same breath; they’re selling a huge parcel of land, in a flood zone, to developers. There are a bunch of hypocrites. They ignore all our requests to release water from their reservoir before a major storm, making them a horrible neighbor. This development will make flooding worse in town and they want federal/state tax payer money to buy out our low lying neighborhoods out. Every time a house gets brought up, with federal/state tax payer money, everyone’s property taxes goes up in town to make up the difference. Let’s be realistic, the developers that’s purchasing this land (Hekemian Group) only builds apartment complexes. Therefore, that presentation at the high school last year was all a show. Their intentions all along was to build a mega apartment complex that will overcrowd our schools, strain our police & fire departments, increase traffic by our HS and Senior Center, increase flooding and buyouts, etc.. These obvious factors will raise all our taxes before we ever see a dime in ratables from this mega-eyesore… This is a bad idea for New Milford and we need to Stop-Over-Development for the sake of our wallets and the future of this town (our home values will sink, even lower, once this land gets build up). SOD!
Lori Barton May 04, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Ulises, you are absolutely right. In fact, Hekemian tried to do almost the exact same development on the Waterworks site in 1993-94. Oradell turned them down and now they are trying in New Milford. Hekeimian is in the business of mixed used development: apartments and retail. If there is any increase in ratables (doubtful since you will lose the existing ShopRite) it will definitely be offset by the huge increase in taxes from the residential development and the increase in services necessitated by such a huge supermarket. PLUS, all of us will be paying for the increased costs due to flood damage...not just those who live in flood areas. Our high school track and the first floor of the high school will be damaged again and again. Who do you think pays for that? All of us do.
miriam pickett May 07, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Ulises and Lori - let's get this onto our FB page. Many of us (including me) never knew about Hekemian and the Waterworks.
JD May 08, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Miriam, so Stop and Shop is nearby? Fairway is a short drive away? ...and Inserra will not move out? Really? Well if Mr Inserra had to choose between a) closing the existing supermarket for several months for makeshift rennovations AND STOPPING CASH FLOW....or b) wait for a new Super Shop Rite to be built in a nearby town (like the property at the old Huffman-Koos site) and seamless move there....what do you think he is going to do....REALLY? IT IS OBVIOUS....HE WILL MOVE OUT OF TOWN...and THEN....I wonder who will be heading a new "grassroots campaign" to keep OUR supermarket in town? Let's IMPROVE our town with a DECENT supermarket! I for one WANT a DECENT supermarket IN TOWN.
David Bednarcik May 09, 2012 at 01:29 AM
I didn't make the meeting tonight. What heappened?

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