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Judge Denies Cranford's Motion That Says Hekemian Property is in Flood Prone Area

Despite evidence presented to the court regarding flooding Judge ruled against township of Cranford.

Since the filing of the application for , several New Milford residents have been closely following a similar development in a flood-prone area in Union County.

The United Water property in New Milford is owned by New Milford Development Associates, LLC, whose managing director is Peter Hekemian of the Paramus-based S. Hekemian Group

About 30 miles south, in Cranford, another Hekemian development has angered residents, who are fighting a proposal to build 360 low and moderate-income housing units, along with 800 parking spaces, in a flood-prone area on Birchwood Avenue. S. Hekemian Group purchased the Cranford property in October 2008.

The township of Cranford also opposes the  development, according to Cranford Patch. Instead of housing, the township committee has proposed to turn the area into a storm water detention basin that will slow the flow of water to the Rahway River and will also reduce water flow to the Birchwood Brook. It would also reduce flooding and stop development from increasing drainage issues.

But Superior Court Judge Lisa F. Chrystal has denied the township's motion for reconsideration in the Birchwood redevelopment lawsuit, despite evidence provided by attorneys showing that the property is in a flood-prone area. According to Cranford Police Chief, and Interim Township Administrator, Eric Mason, Judge Chrystal ruled that the environmental issues were more appropriately addressed as part of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s permitting process. 

reported that in her decision, Chrystal also indicated that if the issuance of any future permits requested by the developer is delayed by the town "beyond any statutory or local ordinance deadline," the developer may apply to Special Hearing Master Douglas Wolfson for his consideration as to the reason for the delay.

Cranford Mayor David Robinson said he was unhappy with the judge's decision. Officials had hoped that the evidence presented to the court regarding the effects of Hurricane Irene would lead her to reconsider her decision in the case.

Jerry February 02, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Ulises, " I don't think NM will be as lucky as Cranford", what do you mean with this statement? Anyway, given this news, I agree even more with JD who was saying we need to open a DIALOGUE with the builder, not fight this thing in court. Because we will lose! If you really want the best for this town, barking and yelling is not going to help! Talking like grown-ups is.
Jerry February 02, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I'm sorry, Ulises, I guess I misspoke in my comment here above. I meant to speak in general about how some people took the discussion to a personal level, I was not referring to you. I apologize for the misunderstanding.
Birchwood Bird February 02, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Re: Cranford. Here are some pictures of Birchwood Ave and vicinity taken during Hurricane Irene. https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/116125735167276333586/albums/5647079283317192481
LMA February 02, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Once again, the almighty dollar prevails! It is apparent that Hekemian has a reputation for trodding and raping towns even though the majority of the residents do not extend the welcome mat. Their concern is not for the welfare of human beings, but simply to line their pockets! I would only hope that Superior Court Judge Lisa F. Chrystal and all of the politicians who allow for the development to take place in land adjacent to the flood zone experience a thousand-fold all of the devestation, financial heartache and emotional toil that the residents have experienced are will CONTINUE TO EXPERIENCE! Their day will surely come when they are before the one and only SUPREME JUDGE of the entire universe!
LMA February 02, 2012 at 06:03 PM
sorry for the typos..I hit the submit button before checking.
Denise February 02, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Anna L, agreed. My next statement is from the horse's mouth because I am an only child. There are many pros & cons & I have worked hard all my life to get rid of the "cons"...LOL! Mr. Hekemian is acting like a spoiled brat, only child.... He wants his own way and is determined to get it in Cranford and here in New Milford. He needs someone or a group to stand up to him and tell him NO!.....you can't have your way here in OUR borough!!!
LMA February 02, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Jerry, you have a real serious problem for insulting individuals who do not follow your way of thinking! I am expressing my opinion and if I choose to be forceful with my comments, that is my perogative. Apparently, you must be a "pushover" and a "wimp." I am only dishing out "your medicine" for referring to people who "bark" and "yell." One's strong and passionate statement in your "blind" eyes is barking and yelling? Get a life and let one express his/her opinion! If you do not like it, then board a boat or plane and head to a country which does not allow one to express his/her opinion. I guess you are so wonderful that you have never lost your temper in life; I guess you consider yourself the model of perfection! You are truly a sad person and I will not dignify answering to any more of your comments. I just had to let you know that to insult one for one's opinion and passion is totally disrespectful and void of compassion. If you did your homework, you would have noted that the judge who ruled in the Cranford case came from a real estate family (her father was a real estate businessman) and her husband practices law in a firm which defends huge real estate concerns. Must I say more?
Nancy February 02, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Uli I'm confused, why would you want this judge on our planning board?
Jerry February 02, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Anna, aside from our personal debacle, what is your plan/proposal for the UW property? Sorry if my previous comment may have offended you, but I was referring to the lack of tangible and factual proposals shown by most commenters. Plus please remember that writing in ALL CAPITALS on the Internet is equivalent to YELLING. You have posted quite a few comments in the past with all caps, and that's why I commented the way I did. Have a nice weekend.

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