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Robalino Addresses Hekemian's Revised Plans For United Water Property

With Hekemian's revised plans, Robalino says that its time for the entire town to come together and embrace the idea to re-zone the property.

By Diego Robalino

With regards to the new plan proposed by Hekemian for the United Water property, it is clear that they are trying to work with the residents of New Milford in addressing our major concerns. Of course not every issue can be satisfactory for those in opposition, but the will of the developer is clear in trying to compromise. Compromise, meaning a settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions, is a word that naysayers will chose not to accept. Not to say that they would be wrong in doing so, but it does help to come to the bargaining table with an open mind. Is this new proposal the best plan for the property? Definitely not!  Is it the best concept for New Milford under present conditions?  That is precisely the question that needs to be addressed.

Burdening the town with an eight million dollar price tag would have almost doubled the borough’s debt of nine million. Even after recouping monies from grants, at best we’ll still be stuck with four million dollars to pay before we can even talk about investing even more taxpayer dollars for whatever we want to build there. So purchasing the property was something that was not a possibility. So where does this leave us?  First, we must accept the fact that this new proposal has addressed many of our concerns. However, before being approved by the BOA, it will require many further concessions by the developer, as this plan is far from acceptable.

But if the plans are ultimately denied locally, the county court will most likely approve the application. Especially now, based on the fact that the developers have clearly demonstrated that they have been proactive in working with residents’ concerns. Still, 24 residential units, is 24 too many in my book. So this is where I make my pitch: Now is the time for the entire town to come together and embrace the idea to re-zone the property.  Instead of the 24 apartments, we could have our multipurpose field in its place, on land deeded by the developer. Hekemian has confirmed that if we were to re-zone, the original concept presented almost 20 months ago would still be an option. We cannot waste any more time, the longer this is dragged through meeting after meeting, the less likely we will have this window. Let’s enter the New Year with a solid plan to move forward!

The current Shop Rite is old and inadequate for our growing community, we will all enjoy a new Shop Rite, and yes, there are many, many in New Milford who want it. The majority doesn’t care one way or another; they are just too busy with their own day to day. As you know, the DEO Middle School field had a negative response in this past November’s referendum, not because people were opposed to the idea necessarily, but rather opposed to the location or opposed to the cost. Our kids have proven time and again that they are well deserving of it. Two Jr. Football Super Bowl championship years back to back, the High School in the State’s final once again and the Girl’s Soccer team's superb achievement among others! Imagine the possibilities…………..

Comments are welcome. First names (only) or pseudonyms need not reply.

Diego Robalino


Mark G December 06, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Ulises, I am no longer in NJ or NM, but am still interested. If you have a list please share. I would be very interested to see what endangered species are known to be living on this property. If they are just known to be living along the river I do not think that will help the situation. Either way please post list. I am sure others would be most interested to learn too. Thanks
Diego Robalino December 06, 2012 at 09:20 PM
There you go again Ricky, touch a nerve, Did I? I thought we were long past this, evidently there are still sour grapes. I thought you had moved forward and had let bygones be bygones. I guess there's nothing like sulking in the truth being called out, huh?
Donna Tomasini December 06, 2012 at 10:31 PM
I have been reading the patch for some time now and to this point have not commented but after reading this article now I feel the need to weigh in my opinion. Being a resident of Charles St. and living very close to this development my husband and I are STRONGLY AGAINST this nightmare of a development. My husband grew up in this town. We married, moved to North Bergen and then bought the house he grew up in a few years later. We have raised 2 children here and want to stay but if this development goes through I'm sad to say that we will most likely be putting a FOR SALE sign on our property. We moved here because of the green space and quiet town atmosphere. My husband remembers farms, dirt roads and the post office by the CVS north. We implore all (zoning board, M&C) to please keep this last piece of open space green forever. This town will never be the same if this development is allowed to go through. I do not shop at the current Shop Rite nor will I shop at the new Shop Rite if it is indeed built on the UW property. Signed, 2 more residents that are AGAINST
Heather December 06, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Every time you open your mouth, Councilman Robalino, you hammer another nail into the coffin of your political career. Your response to Rick is childish and churlish, arrogant and petty, insensitive and inappropriate. Bye bye.
Lori Barton December 07, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Mr. Robalino: I asked a question that has not been answered. Why are you ignoring the wishes of the NM Board of Education, the voice of the over 2000 students who don't get to vote??
Barbara December 07, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Let's apply some common sense to the issue. Look at the area. It cannot handle the volume of people a new shop rite will attract. What about the kids? They will be sandwiched between two commercial properties. What about our health, safety and over all quality of life. This is a residential area. Apply common sense.
Barbara December 07, 2012 at 01:51 AM
And our kids achieved their sports status on the current environment. I don't see anything wrong with them playing on what they have right now. It builds character. And we have really amazing kids with great character. The UW land is a dump and is unsuitable for human use. We are misleading and not protecting our kids if we try to use it for anything. UW and the developers are trying to make money from that dump. We are fools if we rezone it to allow them to make that money.
Barbara December 07, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Barbara December 07, 2012 at 01:59 AM
A shop rite representative said there is 30+ deliveries a day to a nice residential area! Sickening!!! http://newmilford-nj.going.com/articles/shop-rite-manager-can-t-produce Pagano did testify that there would be approximately 34 trucks visiting the new Shop Rite per day.These trucks include trailer deliveries, garbage, recycling and vans that take food donations from Shop Rite.
Barbara December 07, 2012 at 02:04 AM
If I had the money I would buy it an leave just the way it is. A dump.
Diego Robalino December 07, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Darlene; I rememer you and your daughters in August when I hosted a Bar B'Q' for the candidates. I enjoyed speaking with you for about 10 or 15 minutes. My position then and my position now has not been swayed. I thanked you for stopping by, we shared a good talk and I respect your position and understand where you are coming from. I appreciate you identifying yourself and I'm always available, please reach out anytime.
Diego Robalino December 07, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Lori; as a former BOE representative, can you actually say that the "over 2000 students" are in a full agreement with the Board's stand? One thing may be to represent the students, but another to say they share your sentiment. In any case, I am not ignoring it, please take your guard down an instant to understand that it's not that I ignore others' opinion, I simply don't agree. And unlike you, I am not forcing anyone to climb on board, but I would like you to understand my position and may be a little open minded. It's ok to have different opinions.
Lori Barton December 07, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Mr. Robalino, you seem to have misunderstood my question. I was referring to the wishes of the BOE expressed to the M&C regarding this property, in order to protect the health, safety and well being of the 2000 students they represent. You, as the BOE liaison, are most certainly choosing to disagree with their requests concerning this property. The BOE made their position known to you in a letter back in Sept. 2011, when we all thought it was the "compromise" that is being presented again. This was before any residential component was discussed. They were against this plan then. They are the voice of the 2000+ students when it comes to protecting those students' interests, whether or not those students agree or disagree with this plan.
Jose A. Camacho, Esq. December 07, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Mr. Robalino, this is Mr.Camacho and I must respectfully disagree with your position. You have much too great a fear of thse in black robes. Remember, they are bound by the law and if the basis for their granting Hekemian's proposed development was the inherently beneficial use argued by the developer at the Zoning Board Hearings I believe it is safe to say those who have heard the testimony can clearly see that there is no inherentl benefit from the proposed development. Please, stand with your residents on this and oppose Hekemian and his proposals. Myself and most who have fought this from the beginning have always predicted that Hekemian was submitting a monstrous proposal in hopes the fear of its manifestation would draw support for what Hekemian wanted all along which is the original proposal your residents opposed in April, 2010. The residents have made it clear where they stand on this, and it is truly hard to see why you refuse to stand with the residents.
George P. December 07, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Mr. Robalino, thank you for your response. It's hard to face adversity, but you can't let fear cause you to compromise your convictions. You have to stand for what you believe in. You won't be alone, passions are high in this room because we are all afraid. We don't want to lose our quality of life and what we have worked for. It's better to lose in honor than to accept defeat without having even tried.
Rick December 07, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Diego, frankly, you are a clown and you're going down. There is no truth to any of your rebuttal, my name is Mr. Mide to you, DO NOT call me Ricky, you're not my friend, you make a ridiculous statement that "We don't appreciate grandstanding" speaking on behalf of your constituents while each has approached me to apologize on your behalf because you embarrassed them & if you want to call me out, find something of substance that's worthwhile. My home had 12 ft of water and all you cared about was your reputation. That's a fact. Yes, you did apologize however it's still on record, it happened, you are the public servant, not the other way around and there are no 'bygones'. Get it straight and maybe you won't be such a pompous a**.
Rick December 07, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Thank you Heather.
NM Resident December 08, 2012 at 03:22 AM
I really think it is wonderful how many citizens have responded to this post, many names i am not familiar with. I am not one of those who feel the necessity to discount pseudonyms, or single name posts- for or against my position. I don't fault anyone for not using their name, & I don't feel that these posters are cowards- as if their ideas & comments are not equally valid- as if their comments are posted for lack of a better thing to do with their time- It's a foolish notion- one that the councilman hides behind to discount or avoid commenting on things he has no answer for. I'm still very disappointed that the councilman is not here to listen to his constituants- but only to keep pushing his position, as if he knows better for/ than the residents who voted him in. The idea that he has "many people" that support the development is a farce, & we all know that... yet he sticks his statements- either out of ignorance or arrogance- I'm not sure which- but neither matters at this point. We can all see him for who he is and who he will be going forward- & that's what counts. Lastly, I don't care whether he chooses to use this forum again to stay in touch, & I am less concerned by his scare tactics idea that "the robe" will go against us if we don't learn to play ball. If the councilman had any perspective he would know that his job is to lobby on our behalf to convince "the robes" of our position. To find ways of making it work for us. But he does not. The end
ConcernedResident December 08, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Well said NM Resident!
JD December 09, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I fully support Councilman Robalino's position that "Now is the time for the entire town to come together and embrace the idea to re-zone the property." ...and YES there are MANY MANY New Milford citizens that WANT a decent supermarket in town. The Developer is clearly trying to address our concerns. The way to get things done is to WORK TOGETHER.
Lori Barton December 09, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I'm sorry, JD, but Councilman Robalino won't accept your remarks since you did not give both first and last names. Or is that only if you don't agree with him? But you are right about certain things: I think we ALL want a decent supermarket in town, But MANY, MANY want it in the existing location, not on UW property. And, the way to get things done is to work together...But NOT to rezone the property and cave in to the developer. We need to work together to save open space and to preserve what's left of the small town life that most of us moved here to enjoy. I have lived here for over 34 years and I am willing to fight for my community against this development to the bitter end. If in the long run I lose, then at least I know I gave it everything I had.
Ulises December 09, 2012 at 04:37 PM
We all want a better supermarket but why can't it be at their current location? The M&C had almost. two years to rezone and they dragged their feet on this decision. Why is it that it's so important now? It is the expiration on the contract? Of course it is. The developer is not trying to address our concerns, it's all smoking mirrors. Their current proposal contains an apartment complex nobody wants, even at 24 units, and the original presentation on April 2011 at the high school had very little support then, which included no apartments. This developer has not addressed concerns of many as some may argue. Concerning traffic, their study was flawed because they never used counters mandated by the county they had people manually counting traffic at the least busiest time of the week. They now want to knock down more trees to widen the road, how many people really want that? We all want ratables but why aren't our elected officials encouraging developers to enhance our center of town instead? Concerning the price of this private sales, well, I think it's overpriced. The town assessed this land just over $2M and United Water pays only $59k in taxes yet they are asking $7.2M??? It's over priced and they're special utility tax benefit has been ripping off New Milford for over a 100 years.
Heather December 09, 2012 at 05:20 PM
This is a gross, inaccurate and unfair generalization.
SP December 09, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I agree with JD. We need a decent supermarket in town and the current Shoprite location cannot expand because of the apartments in the back. Lets work together to keep our taxes under control and have a good supermarket in town. -SP.
Lori Barton December 09, 2012 at 05:51 PM
SP, are you aware that ShopRite has already received all of the approvals they need to build a brand new store, bigger and much better than what is there now? We need a good, modern grocery store. We don't need to have one of the biggest in Bergen County.
JD December 09, 2012 at 05:58 PM
On the contrary, I DID grow up here, and have proudly lived in New Milford for about 40 years, went to school here, and plan to stay here for the forseeable future unless I am pushed out by higher taxes. Additionally, there is NO ROOM to make a decent supermarket in the current location....and Mr Inserra is NOT obligated to have a supermarket in New Milford at all. I wonder who will be complaining if he decides to move the current Shop-Rite to a location outside of New Milford?
scooby doo December 09, 2012 at 06:17 PM
ok, if everyone else is going to chime in without giving a real name then i will too. I didn't grow up here but I want open space. If inserra wants to move his store to another town, let him. I think somebody else said he could go to the old huffman koos lot. I'm more ok with that than letting him ruin NM. And there's plenty of room for a DECENT supermarket, just not for a megasupermarket. Who needs it anyway? If you want to be able to sell your house someday, what do you think the new homeowners will look for? A megasupermarket (right next to the high school) or open space which might become fields someday? Ummmmm, I think they want the fields. and ya know, when people are looking for houses, they don't look only at the taxes. They look to see what they're getting.
ConnieMcKnight December 10, 2012 at 01:25 AM
After a great deal of reading, may I ask what is the SOD official demand of the property?
Lori Barton December 10, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Go to sodnow.org to read SOD's mission statement and to learn more.
TommyIce December 10, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Just wait JD. After this is built and then the boro purchases the old ShopRite location, tears it down and rebuilds the New Milford Emergency Municipal Complex and fills it with additional police and brand new fire trucks, your taxes will rise. Count me as one who will NOT complain if Inserra leaves New Milford.


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