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United Water Property Hearing Postponed to April

New planner not yet appointed; special Zoning Board meeting scheduled for April 19th.

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. 

Sproviero advised the board to wait until the April 10th meeting to resume the hearings when "there will be a planner present to represent the interests of the board." 

Denying the request of applicant's attorney, Andy DelVechhio, to proceed with the hearing and let the planner "read the transcript" once they are appointed, Sproviero said, "I believe if this board was to hear and consider testimony of your expert and planner without the benefit of their professional planner by their side to answer questions generated by the testimony, we will be doing the board and the entire process a disservice."

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.

Also recusing themselves at the Feb. 14 meeting were Chairman Karl Schaffenberger and Aziz Hadodo. Schaffenberger cited public comments he made regarding the environmental impact of the development of that property at the where representatives from United Water were in attendance. Board member Hadodo recused himself for also making public statements regarding the development of the United Water property.

The Mayor and Council have narrowed the appointment of a new planner to two firms: Birdsall Services and Phillips Preiss and Grygiel. Sproviero indicated that conflict checks were currently being undertaken to avoid any further recusals. He said that the expectation is that the mayor and council will appoint a new planner by the April 10 meeting.  

Additionally, Al Alonso, an attorney representing himself as a New Milford resident, requested in a letter dated Feb. 27 to the Zoning Board that the borough's engineer, Boswell Engineering, be recused due to a conflict of interest because United Water is listed as a client on its website

Dr. Stephen Boswell, a principal in Boswell Engineering, responded to Alonso's request by letter that although they have provided services for United Water from "time to time," there is no "standing relationship" and, therefore, there is no cause for recusal.  

Sproviera suggested that this issue be raised with Margita Batistic, a borough engineer employed by Boswell Engineering, at the April 10th meeting. Batistic was absent on a pre-scheduled vacation.

In order to avoid any further delays to the hearing, DelVecchio requested that prepared questions be submitted to Batistic so that she will be be able to answer all of the questions at the next meeting and avoid any further delays.

In addition to its regularly scheduled April 10 meeting, the board has scheduled a special meeting to continue the hearing on Apr. 19.

Ulises March 14, 2012 at 12:04 PM
The comments made by Chairman Karl Schaffenberger were so honorable and dead on against United Water it's a shame he had to recuse himself but it's the right thing to do. As for Father Hadodo, thank God he recused himself. His comments at the NMHS meeting last year were so surprising coming from a preist, I'll never forget them because he spoke before I did. He said something along the lines that he's for the development for the ratables and those people that live in flood zones choose to live there and if it floods who cares. Hear the audio to that meeting if you think I am making this up. Thank you father for being so consern about flooding in town and thank you for recusing yourself for your warm comments last year.
miriam pickett March 14, 2012 at 02:25 PM
It's time for those opposed to this development plan organize into a cohesive group and not just individual voices. The postponement gives us time to regroup and speak with one voice. I suggest a meet up. Comments?
Ulises March 14, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Ms. Pickett, that's a great idea. I'm in! Westwood, Washingtpn township and Hillsdale have a group of their own, we need one too. The problem in town is that no one really cares to get involve, except for a few of us, but getting organized, with a united front, against building in a flood zone is a step in the right direction. Where do we begin? Who else is willing to fight this development? Please, speak up.
LMA March 14, 2012 at 04:23 PM
When I attended my first planning board meeting I was quite surprised that there was a priest on the planning board. Right off the bat, that is an extreme conflict of interest. I then pondered what kind of a priest could this be. Certainly not a Roman Catholic priest. No disrespect to whatever religion Father Hadodo is a part of; however, the function of a priest, regardless of type of religion, is to tender to their flock and not get involved in politics on a regular basis...such as being a member of the planning board. I know that the priests of my church are so busy with their congregants and official duties that they pretty much work around the clock, and would not even have the time of day to sit on a planning board. I am absolutely horrified that Father Hadodo made the comment regarding who cares about flooding and that the people twho live in a flood zone chose to live there. If these comments are true, then this person who calls himself Father Hadodo is certainly not a priest in the eyes of God. Even if the the folks chose to live there, a priest would exhibit kindness and empathy (even if the folks made a poor decision). I tend to believe that he made the comments as I did not find him to be warm, caring, or, benevolent, when I attended my first planning board meeting. He, as a priest, is certainly not in the position to judge people, and his day will come when he will be judged.
Denise March 14, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Why is it so hard to bring people together to fight this thing!? Uli & Miriam as you said Westwood, Washington Township & Hillsdale were able to get people involved. Do people think we are already defeated? Look at the people of Oradell when they were fighting against the building of a Walgreens where the restaurant Felice stands....They won their battle. Why can't we????
Ulises March 14, 2012 at 05:09 PM
AML, he probably didn't specifically say who cares but he did say that's where they choosed to live, which implies he could care less since he just wants the ratables. Before I addressed the M &C that night I addressed him and told him we, those that live in these neighborhood, did choose to live there, we have insurance and we won't be seeking his help if we flood; I flooded a week later... He does have an engineering degree I believe but he lost all credibility with me after he made his insincere comments, which i found heartless coming from a priest, in my opinion.
Ulises March 14, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Denise, you are right we could do this and we will because there are members on the board that want to build up this property and if we make this part of November's elections we may be able to change thing in our favor.
Lori Barton March 14, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Ulises, Miriam, Denise, AML and all others who feel as we do: Let's set up a time and place to meet to discuss our options and our plans for fighting this development. We absolutely need to present a united front. There are lots of us who feel this way. Some people are reluctant to speak or put their thoughts on this type of forum but they are willing to show their solidarity with us. Let's hear some suggestions for where and when we can have our first meeting.
james March 14, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Since when are opinions that disagree with you insincere? If he has the credentials such as an engineering degree and the time to give to his community by being on the planning board who is anyone to question his religion. He like many others emphatize with those who are flooded but also recognize that choices as you said were made to live in that area. When I first came to NM to look for a home I was shown a brand new house on Columbia St. It had rained the night before and the street was muddy with huge puddles of water that even as a young buyer I knew wasn't normal. I never even went into the model home. I made a choice as did the people who brought those homes. There are different reasons to be for and against this project throwing stones at those who oppose the way that has been done here does nothing for your cause.
Ulises March 14, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Lori, great idea. Let me check with the wife since I always make plans and forget of prior commitments.
John DeSantis March 15, 2012 at 12:52 AM
My wife and I would like to be involved. We do need to do what ever we can to stop this development.
Ulises March 15, 2012 at 01:40 AM
james, Mr. Hadodo had an opinion and I have an opinion about his opinion, which was, that I found his opinion, to be an insincere opinion. Now, let's say that eight times... In all seriousness, I guess the reason I feel this way is because we tend to forget that our religious leaders are homeowners and regular tax payers like the rest of us, and I was just expecting something a bit different from a man of the collar, for whatever reason. Therefore, if I made anyone upset, especially Mr. Hadodo, for having an opinion - my apologies. I did bring up his engineering background, which is great to have as a board member, but it's not a requirement. Board members are politically nominated and it has nothing to do with their background. Heck, I was asked if I was interested in becoming a member just last year but I quickly said no thank you (lol, i would have had to recuse myself too). And, my argument is not where I've chosen to live, it's about building up properties in our flood zones. Let's think of ways to lower our expenditures (town employees' banked-sickdays-retirement-bonus checks would be a great start, we could save up to a grand today if this wasn't being accrued on our books) and let's think of ways to generate revenue without building up this land...
Ulises March 15, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Mr. & Mrs. DeSantis, that's great! It'd be nice to get members of NM Environmental committee on board with us too...
james March 15, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Thank you for your reply Ullises. You are a very upfront and nice gentleman I can tell. I wish you success. I am still on the sideline as to how to the best solution for this property since it has been sold and there is IMO little we can do about that situation.
Ulises March 15, 2012 at 03:51 PM
james, thank you for the kind words and best of luck to you.
John DeSantis March 15, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Hi Ulises, We need to pick a time and place to meet. Evenings or Sundays would be best for me. What is the best time for everyone else.
Ulises March 15, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Hi John, I can't do anything until next week (St. Patty Day parties, parents B-day, etc...). Let's spread the word for now and hopefully more people will join us... I'll work on an email account (I'm not on Facebook), there's a chance I may speak to some members of the Environment committee this Saturday... I'd love to get Karl Schaffenberger, Attorney Alonso, etc... The more the merrier...
John DeSantis March 16, 2012 at 12:28 AM
I agree the more people we can muster the better.

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