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SOD's Letter to the Editor

SOD Executive Director, Miriam Pickett, asks citizens to unite against rezoning the United Water property.

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. 

Join us.   

Miriam Pickett,

Executive Director, SOD

Barbara September 25, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Traffic facts: The current shoprite earns 600 to 700 thousand a week. The projected revenues for the new shoprite is 2 million a week. It is more than twice the revenues. To me that is a whole bunch of customers! If the average weekly customer bill is $250 (700k /250) there is 2,800 people visiting the current store weekly. The new store will have 8,000 people weekly (2mil / 250) That is a 35% increase in customers! More than double! Holy cow!!!! Regarding deliveries: Grocery is twice a day, dairy meat and apply 4 deliveries a week, frozen 3 deliveries a week, dairy gets daily milk delivery, produce, fish daily delivery, bread, soda .... Daily deliveries. This is more than one delivery a day. There is no way that area of town can hold up to that kind of traffic.
Ulises September 25, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Miriam, well said. I look at what other mayors write on their town's home page and they mention unity and give an overall positive outlook. Our mayor uses our boro website as her bully pulpit to ridicule a group of concerned citizens by poking fun of their name and she tries to justify why her vision for the town is right by using COAH, as the developers do, as a scare tactic. I think her message was in poor taste. SOD is doing what she (and the council)should have tried to do months ago but her lack of vision and wiling to side with developers makes it all so clear she's lack the leadership skills people seek and yern for at boro hall. Mayor, can you please right something positive on the boro's website rather than insulting most people in town that agree with SOD?
Lori Barton September 26, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Thank you Miriam.We have spent hours at the ZB meetings. We know this is not a big gamble.When the ZB denies the variances (& they will), will Hekemian gamble & appeal this?The court will look at the testimony & see the questions left unanswered.The court will see how each expert lost credibility.Rezoning the property is an outright gift to the developer.The Mayor/Council did not hear the testimony from the traffic expert.She admitted that an extra lane is needed on River Rd for the incoming traffic to ShopRite.She said that the existing width of 30 ft would be OK for 3 lanes, making each of them 10 ft wide.The boro engineer said that 12 ft is usually the minimum.So, if the rezoning was to take place, River Rd would need to be widened & even more trees would have to go.Bus, truck & car traffic would increase on Madison Ave,Demarest Ave & the other streets which would become cut throughs.Who pays for the extra wear on these roads?What does New Milford gain from this compromise?We might get a piece of property to be used as a field.But this field is not big enough to host NMHS football games.They are dangling a carrot in front of us.We are not easily duped & we will not be bought off by this insignificant offer.Mayor Subrizi & some of the council are easy targets for this scam.It's time for them to join with the Council who have vision.It's time for them to join with SOD and fight WITH us, not against us.It's time for New Milford to fight together to KEEP NEW MILFORD GREEN.
Barbara September 27, 2012 at 01:37 AM
I had a conversation with Mayor Subrizzi in June. She shared her dream for our town: Reduce the impact of the proposed development to a shop rite and field Use the zoning negotiations as a bargaining tool to; Buy the old shop rite property with the funds from the sale of the two firehouse properties Build a central fire and heath building on the shop rite property Move Coah to another ares, possibly the Swim Club property since it is having financial difficulties. Attending the meetings and reading articles after this meeting shows me that Mayor Subrizzi is highly invested in seeing her dream become a reality. This is not doing what is best for this town!
Chris September 27, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I appreciate all this information. I do, however, have a few questions. Please forgive my ignorance, as I do not have all the facts and am trying to piece them all together. Also, I apologize in advance because what I am writing is too long and will be 2 comments. How is this proposed Shop Rite location going to reach new customers? I fail to see how DOUBLE the customers will be attending a new Shop Rite. Where are these additional people coming from, and why wouldn't they have driven 2 miles down the road to the current Shop Rite. This, in my opinion, seems not only grossly exaggerated but also wishful thinking.
Chris September 27, 2012 at 08:37 PM
In regards to traffic, I also fail to see the difference between locations. Granted, the current area may be easier to get to with more roads leading out, but the bottom line is that it is still a one lane road. When the current Shop Rite was built, I'm sure there were concerns from residents in the area that were worried about cut-throughs as well (for example Graphic and Henley). Also, it seems that the traffic that a "huge apartment complex" brings has also been neglected. Have you ever driven through the Brookchester apartment area? Thousands of cars not only parked on the street, but also double parked, and blocking traffic. This brings up another point: pavement. Seems like this is a major concern for flooding; where do the inhabitants of these new apartments park? They are going to pave the area for parking, much like they would with Shop Rite or a strip mall, except they may need MORE spots depending on the size of a "huge apartment complex." I am on neither side of this arguement for the time being, however I just feel that these are things that have been overlooked in this letter. I do, however, feel that the current Shop Rite we have is a disgrace of a grocery store, and I also feel that incorporating more apartments in town only will further deteriorate the local housing market that numbers suggest has stabilized. Please let me know if things that I stated here are incorrect. Like I said earlier, I am just starting to become aware of this issue.
Nicholas D'Amelio September 28, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Chris, there are a few thing you could do to get answers to your questions. You should come to the zoning board meeting or a SOD meeting and everyone there would be more then will to answer your questions. To answers you questions on the internet will take a lot of time and we would not have the space to give a good answer to all your questions. Here is on answer to the parking question. They are planning to build a 4 store parking building, which will be the tallest building in New Milford. It will sit higher then the High School. The people that live in the area will have to look at that eye sore. They mind as well be live in Newark or any other large city. The people who live in New Milford live here because the want to have the small town feeling, not the large city feeling. Come to the meeting and we all will be more then willing to answer your questions.
Chris September 28, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Thank you for the response. Unfortunately attending any meetings is a tough task with long work hours and an infant at home. Perhaps as I become more up to speed I will become more passionate. I do agree, regardless of the height of the structure, that apartments are not the best of ideas for that area; I'm with you 100 percent there. Forgive me if I misinterpreted, however this article above led me believe that the apartment complex was preferred over a Shop Rite/strip mall. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that SOD then prefers no development whatsoever at this location?
Nicholas D'Amelio September 28, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Chris: At the United Water property there is going to be a Bank, ShopRite, restaurant, strip mall and 240 apartments. This development is the biggest thing to happen in New Milford since 1960 when built homes on the 3 farms that were here.
Nicholas D'Amelio September 28, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Chris, I am sorry I did not answer your question about SOD; yes we do not want the property to be developed. You said that you have small children. If this project goes through we are going to have to add on to the schools because the schools are almost at there full-capacity. The class sizes are 23 to 28 students per class. The Idea class size is 18 to 20 children per class. I hope this helps.
Chris September 28, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Thank you for all the additional information.
Lori Barton September 30, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Chris, some more info: Double the customers would go to a new ShopRite because it would be NEW, not disgusting like the existing ShopRite, and twice as big. It would draw from many towns. We need a new ShopRite.They have the approvals to rebuild bigger& better where they are. SOD is against development of this property. It is the only open space left in NM. We don't want or need another bank. We are actually overcrowded in our schools already. Any increase in ratables will be offset by additional costs. So residential taxpayers will end up subsidizing this development. Go to www.sodnow.org to learn more. Hope this helps!
Chris September 30, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Thanks for all the additional information. I agreed we need a new shop rite, as I too goto Emerson to do my shopping. Im still not sold on double the customers, but regardless, if it can be done in its current location all the better. In my eyes, the more open space the better for everyone; once it's gone it never comes back. Thanks again
David Bednarcik October 03, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Thank you Miriam!

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