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Potential United Water Developer Sues New Milford

New Milford Redevelopment Associates are looking for rezoning to build a supermarket, bank and low income housing.

The Borough of New Milford, the Planning Board and the Mayor and Council are listed as defendants in a lawsuit filed by New Milford Redevelopment Associates (NMRA).

The NMRA currently has an application in front of the zoning board that requires variances for a mixed-use development of a supermarket, bank and 24-units of residential multifamily housing. The United Water property adjacent the high school is the property in question.

“New Milford has failed to create sufficient realistic housing opportunities for low and moderate income households,” says the NMRA complaint.

NMRA claim that their efforts to create 24 low-income housing units are being halted unfairly. Meanwhile, if NMRA’s request for rezoning of the property were met, the developer is looking to plop a 70,500 sq. ft. supermarket and a 4,300 sq. ft. bank alongside the their 24 units of low-income housing.

“We have heard about this and it was filed in court but at this time we have not yet been served with the lawsuit,” said Mayor Ann Subrizi. “We’re not going to spend a lot of time and money on a lawsuit that has not even been served yet.”

Subrizi did say that the Borough would take the proper steps if the suit were served upon them.

The property is currently zoned for single-family detached houses only.

“NMRA is ready, willing and able to construct a mixed-use inclusionary development on the property, including a substantial amount of low and moderate income housing,” says the complaint.

The zoning board will hear more about the proposed development of the United Water property after their reorganization meeting Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. in Borough Hall. 

Rick January 14, 2014 at 06:49 AM
I hope you people who support the development now see the scum you are dealing with. They want to rezone the property to commercial because of their apparant overwhelming concern for 24 low income properties? Such BS. And their attorney, A-Del, is the one creating this legal circus. NM can not rezone this property until the DEP releases new & accurate flood maps. End of story.
Lori Barton January 14, 2014 at 07:00 AM
How ironic that Hekemian is SO devoted to affordable housing when it has been clearly articulated time and again that they would GLADLY get rid of the 24 apartments if only the borough would rezone the property to allow for just the commercial development. Please! This is just another ploy by Hekemian to rape this community, to force us to develop the last parcel of open space left in our town. What a bunch of bullies!
Rick January 14, 2014 at 07:48 AM
A-Del is NM's A-Rod. If you can't win.....sue. The M&C voted NO. The ZB will vote NO, especially now. Your going to sue the taxpayers ultimately? Do you think anyone in NM is ever going to step foot in your Shoprite now? Take the hint & just go away because we aren't. Hope to see you all at the ZB meeting tonight.
asskickinglass January 14, 2014 at 08:59 AM
We have more lower income housing than we do open space. I don't see them being all concerned about that! If housing was their real concern then they should build single family detached homes (at a discount for lower income families) according to the zoning for that property. Between brookchester, Dorchester, and village, our low income housing is alot closer to what is needed than our open space, which is sadly lacking. I would hope there's not a court in this country that wouldn't recognize this request for what it is, a greedy developer trying to bully a whole town into accepting whatever he wants to build so he can fill his pockets at our expense. This nightmare would change the whole face of our town right by our high school, making taxpayers pay for road and intersection changes needed to accommodate this monstrosity. Enough is enough! Zoning should not be changed, and if it has to go to court, so be it. New Milford should stand up to bullying tactics and not run scared because of threats of being taken to court. There is no way this development brings anything positive to this town that it doesn't already have and the negatives are too many to count. I hope our mayor and council have new milford's best interests at heart, and are not seduced by false promises made by this developer. Sometimes you have to fight the fight for right to prevail and I hope our town representatives are prepared for it.
Tommyice January 14, 2014 at 09:28 AM
They (Heikemian & Co) obviously see certain members of our M&C and Zoning Board as being "easily manipulated." This is just the latest tactic for their manipulation. It's a fear tactic. Filing a lawsuit and not serving the defendants is no more threatening than the wicked witch of the west flying her broomstick over the Emerald City and spelling out "Surrender New Milford" with her smoke trail.
Rick January 14, 2014 at 09:36 AM
I think it's high time our Mayor step up, admit she made a mistake supporting this development in the first place, publicly tell them we will not be bullied into submission and to notify them that New Milford will entertain alternative proposals to meet our COAH requirements since they are so concerned. That is, unless she's already accepted generous contributions from the developer that would prevent her from doing so.
Ulises January 14, 2014 at 10:29 AM
It'd be nice to have the Mayor against this development but she's blogged on the Patch for it and ridiculed SOD here and on the borough's website. I hope she comes around but she'll probably use this lawsuit as a reason to change the zoning to commercial, again. It's going to get ugly if she does and the town will continue to be divided because of Hekemian, InSerra and United Water's tactics.
Rick January 14, 2014 at 10:35 AM
A-Sub
Adam January 14, 2014 at 02:52 PM
Time for the Mayor and Counsel to work out a reasonable development of the UW property. Under a court ordered "Builders Remedy", the town will lose control of the development, and the courts, which tend to back reasonable development options, especially where there is low income housing on the table, will likely approve the development as offered by the developer. We have already lost the propsed playing field and possibly parking for for the HS. SOD's "take no prisoners" approch will backfire and leave us in much worse shape than what has been proposed.
Ulises January 14, 2014 at 03:31 PM
Adam, SOD has no say in this case. It's not even an objector in these proceedings. SOD just gives the common folks against this development the capability to assemble and inform others what's going on. The objectors in this case are your neighbors, just regular people like myself that feel we shouldn't back down to outsiders that could care less about the negative impact of this proposal. The other objector is the borough of Oradell, that gets the negative impact Hekemian will bring to the area.
Adam January 14, 2014 at 04:42 PM
yeah, I know that about SOD, but this is a sounding board not only to express well thought feelings but also to influence our public leaders. The old saying "No one wins when it goes to court" is not true. Developers tend to come out on top, especially when low income affordable housing requirements are in play. This property is going to be developed-the only questions is whether its on our terms via negotiations by our elected representatives, or on the developers terms via the Courts.
Michael J. Gadaleta January 14, 2014 at 04:44 PM
Hekemian is welcome to build what the property is zoned for, one family homes . Not a commercial development that will further lower property values, we already have homes below $300k. The entire town is turning into a place to drive thru, add thousands of out of town shoppers every day and see how long it takes to get to work.
Cranky Fake January 14, 2014 at 04:54 PM
Adam, I would not trust our elected official to negotiate the purchase of a car.
Adam January 14, 2014 at 05:21 PM
I once lived in a condo development on a lovely rolling hillside in Western Jersey and "loved" the fact that across the narrow one car street, there was woods, old barns and beautiful natural settings going back for miles. About 5 years later before I moved to New Milford, the wooded area was developed with literally hundreds and hundreds of one family houses, each on their own 40 by 40 foot plots of land. I bemoned the loss of such a beautiful area to my hairdresser (older than me) and she asked where i lived. I told her the condo development, and her eyes glazed over as she described going to those lovely rolling hills as a little girl with her dogs, before the condos were built. In New Milford, other than perhaps the Van Ecks or the Stuebens, we were all outsiders once. I love this town and do have faith in our elected officials to do the right thing, sarcasm aside. Again, this private propert is going to be developed, the only questions is whether its on our terms or the Courts.
Lori Barton January 14, 2014 at 06:33 PM
Adam, with the most recent court decisions, New Milford stands a great chance if this goes to court. Hackensack won against Hackensack University Medical Center when the judge agreed that the negative impacts to the neighborhood outweighed the inherent benefits of the medical center expansion. In Branchburg, the court decided that Branchburg was correct to say that the fact that affordable housing was included in a mixed use development did NOT make the entire project inherently beneficial. These are two of the core arguments in New Milford. I would love to avoid court but not at the cost of having ShopRite in that location.
Adam January 14, 2014 at 08:56 PM
I hope you are right Lori, but it is a risk-to have some control over the development of the property vs. having the courts approve to developers plan. Guess we will know in a few months. (At least the existing Shoprite got rid of those awful rugs-yikes!)
Jason Feinman January 15, 2014 at 08:12 PM
Greedy developers. This lawsuit should be thrown out immediately and any costs incurred by New Milford be paid back by the developers.
marlene casey January 19, 2014 at 11:11 AM
Why are we concerned with intersection improvements Madison Ave./River Road are county roads, under county jurisdiction and this development plan ultimately requires county planning board approval since it backs on Madison Avenue. The county would require the developer to pay for intersection improvements as part of its' approval. The county would have jurisdiction over traffic patterns and drainage as it pertains to the county roads.
Lori Barton January 19, 2014 at 12:36 PM
I wondered about that, too, Marlene. But even if it doesn't cost us i tax dollars for these roads to be widened, the residents that live there will still lose most of their front yards and be so muchh closer to the traffic. We also lose more of the Heritage trees on River Road. The county's reputation for sticking up for us vs the developers is not good. Chief Papapietro fought the opening of the second CVS driveway onto River Road due to his concerns with safety but the county allowed it anyway.
Ulises January 19, 2014 at 04:36 PM
Marlene, great point. It'd be great to see you at the next ZB meeting and raise your concerns to the board, since their vote on this application will happen very soon. Thank you for always siding on the right side of this saga.
asskickinglass January 20, 2014 at 12:24 AM
Our tax dollars will be spent on the river road widening and what would happen to poor Demarest Street? It would become a main thoroughfare for that development. This will cost us all, in our pockets and our quality of life. I don't trust the county to stop any development which is why we must defeat it now even if it involves going to court.
Michael J. Gadaleta January 20, 2014 at 11:10 PM
Marlene, with the greatest respect, I have no faith in the county, where is the county, there is no correspondence , the applicants have not approached the county in the past 2 years . Hekemian has too much influence . They could care less about our intersections needing a $1,000,000 taxpayer contribution.

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