This past year we have been listening to testimony (term used lightly) on the development of the United Water property by a voracious developer, S. Hekemian Group. Their goal is to acquire this land, develop it, and add it to the massive portfolio that has left a lot of unhappy people in its disturbing and disruptive wake.
Throughout, they have put on the appearance of requesting variances to change our zoning from residential to mixed-use (commercial plus an apartment building), while at the same time, it seems, preparing to “force” New Milford to bend to their will in blatant disregard of our ordinances and zoning.
In a situation very similar to ours, the town of Cranford, NJ is fighting for their quality of life against this same developer, as I would imagine has been, will be, and is the case with many, many more who don’t want to suffer the negative impacts these mega-developments bring to already built-out, overdeveloped communities.
These acquisitions are generally “inherently beneficial” to:
- the developers;
- the circus of experts who make a living supporting their clients’ causes with their purchased opinions;
- the future tenants of the developments;
- and in this particular case, United Water, who is attempting to sell us out to this arrogant beast.
They will all profit. But it will be at the expense of the residents of New Milford, who will suffer a lessened quality of life.
Hekemian’s presentation is coming to a close, and it is nearing time for those who oppose this development to present their side. To date, the objectors have done a stellar job questioning and fact-checking the witnesses, however, they cannot represent your individual views.
We could really use your input at this time, so the record will accurately reflect the magnitude of this overdevelopment’s impact. The members of the Zoning Board, and any judge upon appeal, need this information to balance out the testimony of Hekemian’s “witnesses” who are claiming that building a Super ShopRite, a Bank and an Apartment Building, directly adjacent to a river, and a high-school populated with young, vivacious school children, will have little to no impact. Apparently they feel:
- Two years of major construction will not disturb our students during class.
- Daily truck deliveries including tractor-trailers will not endanger the students who have to cross those roads for gym, and to get to and from school.
- Having a gigantic flood basin, an apartment complex full of strangers, and hundreds of shoppers hurrying through their daily tasks, will not put our children in harm’s way.
- Imperviously covering flood-prone land will not contribute to more flooding despite the fact that they’re adding backflow preventers to keep the flood waters off their property.
- A noisy shopping center lit up like a Christmas tree -- where previously there was a quiet spot in our community with the potential of becoming a green refuge -- will not affect home values.
- Adding literally hundreds of cars to our small-town roads will not affect traffic, especially at school drop-off or pick-up time.
- A new shopping center offering a wider variety of goods will not affect local businesses.
- And finally all these things combined, will not affect our quality of life as we know it living here in New Milford.
Following are the ways that our town will be impacted. If you feel that you can contribute in any way, or will be affected in any way, it is very important that you participate in this part of the process. All you have to do is attend a meeting and tell the zoning board how you feel. Ten minutes of your time could make a huge difference to the outcome of this case.
- We need people who were involved in accidents or fender benders in the vicinity of the current ShopRite, or by the High School to share their experiences.
- Residents from Demarest Avenue, River Road, Madison Avenue, Main Street, or any road near the United Water property that may be used as a cut-through to discuss their feelings about the potential impact to them and their families.
- School principals to speak on the safety issues regarding current traffic problems at the schools.
- Police, ambulance, fire, emergency responders to tell whether seconds could make a difference in response times and how additional traffic may affect that.
- Anyone who has already experienced traffic issues with new developments in town.
- Fire, ambulance, DPW -- how increase in call volume from this development might affect New Milford, and whether they would be stretched thin, especially during widespread emergencies like Sandy and Irene.
- Parents to discuss their feelings about the proximity of this development to their high school children.
- Superintendent, BOE, Principals and Teachers to discuss the effect that the influx of children from the residential portion of the development would have on the already overcrowded school system.
- Whoever may be hurt by this, including Brookchester and Dorchester having rental competition in a down market; and any merchants who may find new competition in all that will be offered at this new complex.
- Real Estate Brokers; also anyone who plans to sell their home any time in the future.
- Anyone who has been a victim of the flooding to share their experiences, or who has pictures of the floods.
Hardship on Brookchester and Dorchester residents, especially seniors
- Area residents to speak of the hardship that ShopRite relocating across town may cause them. If you don’t have a car, we will provide transportation.
Loss of vacant land / greenspace / environmental impact / air quality
- People with health or lung issues such as asthma.
- Environmentalists to discuss the value of greenspace & air quality.
Light and noise pollution
- Those who are already experiencing this in some form elsewhere in town, or who will be affected by this.
The charm and character of our town
- Anyone who wants to see this preserved and who views this development as a threat to the charm and character of our town.
Anyone with any thought or knowledge on any of the above, or anything that is not covered herein
- Architects, engineers, realtors, traffic experts, moms and dads, students, New Milford residents who can contribute in any way.
Please email me at Michelina444@aol.com if you would like to be included in any portion of our presentation. We will let you know when the best time to attend will be, or we will schedule you at your convenience during an upcoming meeting in the not-to-distant future (possibly beginning as soon as March or April). We really could use your help right now!!!!!
Be a part of New Milford’s history … help us protect our town!
p.s. If you have nothing to contribute but want to attend, your presence in the audience is also needed and is very much welcome. Anyone can get up and speak any time as well, as many will when they feel the need to speak.