Lori Barton, Communication Chair for SOD (Stop Over Development), requested in writing that the Zoning Board consider the letters of concern regarding the development of the United Water property submitted by the Environmental and Shade Tree Commissions.
In a letter dated Dec. 4, 2012, the Environmental Commission raised concerns regarding the DEP's "letter of no further action" certifying that the United Water property, a former sludge pit used for industrial waste, was no longer contaminated.
The letter asserts that despite the fact that the Ford Motor Company's Mahwah facility was declared clean in 1994, additional sludge was found on the site in 1995, 1998 and 2004. (Click here to see The Record's "Toxic Legacy" report cited in the Commission's letter.) Based on this report, the Environmental Commission is requesting that the Zoning Board arrange for a new study to determine if the United Water property and the grounds are clear of contaminants and "will be safe to residents if breathed in either during construction or when lying undisturbed."
Also at issue is the Hackensack Water Company's 1992 report that states:
It has been concluded that significant flooding, associated with the Hackensack River, may occur on the property at least every ten years...local roads will not be available during those storm periods.
Noted in the letter is the fact that this statement was written prior to the flood events associated with Hurricanes Floyd, Irene and Lee, as well as the 2007 nor'easter.
The Environmental Commission also requests that the Zoning Board arrange for a "current and comprehensive Environmental Impact Study" to determine whether any ecologically sensitive or endangered or threatened species exist on the United Water property. The request is grounded in the 1992 report's detail on the "diverse wildlife community" housed along the undeveloped woodlands along the Hackensack River.
Additionally, the Shade Tree Commission has rescinded its approval of the removal of trees put forth by Hekemian's development plans, citing Shade Tree ordinance 26A-6.8 regarding clear-cutting:
d. There shall be no clear cutting permitted on slopes of ten (10%) percent or greater in grade, however, selective cutting or thinning is permitted.
e. There shall be no clear cutting permitted within major subdivisions where the existing lots will be on one (1) acre or less, unless otherwise permitted.
Reading the letter into the record, Board attorney Scott Sproviero said that Barton's concerns can be addressed during the general comments that follow the conclusion of the evidentiary portion of the hearings.