Last night over 100 New Milford residents of all ages from all neighborhoods came together to ask the New Milford Mayor, Ann Subrizi, and Council members, Randi Duffie, Hedy Grant, Dominic Colucci and Diego Robalino (Council President Berner and Councilman Ashley have recused themselves) to wait for the application process for the purchase of the United Water Company property to run its course through the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
All of us present at the march and demonstration believe that by rezoning the property now we will be handing it over to the highest bidder and New Milford will be the loser. Currently zoned for single family housing, the property is not available for mixed use development. Once rezoning occurs all efforts to protect this land will be lost.
Mayor Subrizi, believing she could blunt the effect of our message, posted a misleading message on the New Milford government website. Once again she misrepresented our position regarding the rezoning on this property. She says that we are willing to "roll the dice" regarding the final outcome of what is or is not built on this empty tract of land. She uses New Milford's COAH obligations as the reason the property needs to be rezoned before the current application is finished. What she left out of her message was the fact that COAH is currently in limbo and that as of now no one knows what the future will be regarding New Milford's obligation.
She also didn't tell the residents that when discussing rezoning of the property at the Mayor and Council meeting on September 10, she told all those assembled that the 3 acres of property that the developer said he would give back to New Milford could be used for COAH housing in the future. Where is "sure thing" in this message?
Also missing was that instead of a huge apartment complex, the rezoning will call for the majority of the property to be covered with asphalt thereby increasing flooding problems for those downstream. Traffic, noise and air pollution will not be reduced. A strip mall in place of the apartment complex is a poor substitute. The field being proposed is not the field of dreams and will not support the needs of New Milford's student athletes.
What rezoning will do, however, will threaten the safety of all New Milford High School students, by adding a layer of truck and car traffic that will be at an unacceptable level. In May, when the first meeting of SOD (Stop Over Development) was held, about 30 of us pledged that we would do everything we could to stop this ill thought-out plan from going forward. From that small group of people we have become a united, cohesive force in New Milford.
I urge all of you to do your research. Find out how this property was allowed to slip through our fingers and into the waiting hands of a developer known for building in environmentally sensitive areas. Learn about the reality of what a mixed use development will mean to people who live in the immediate area, to students who attend New Milford High School, to those of you who need to get home from a long day at work and find that the intersections that will feed the development are clogged with traffic.
And if there is another huge storm think about the devastation for those who live in the path of the flooding.
Executive Director, SOD