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SOD Shows Up To Speak Out at Zoning Board Meeting

Public questioning of New Milford Redevelopment Associates expert testimony postponed; SOD speaks to Patch.

Members of the newly formed grassroots group  (Stop Over Development) came out prepared to question the testimony of engineer, Michael Dipple, a principal of L2A Land Design in Englewood who spent four hours at the April 19 meeting testifying about flooding and the water infiltration system and basins that NMRA has included in their site plans. 

At the conclusion of the April 19 meeting of the Zoning Board it was determined that the May 8 meeting would pick up with the public portion of the meeting where the audience would be afforded the opportunity to question the applicant's expert.

However, Zoning Board attorney Scott Sproviero told Tuesday's audience that the board has no control over who will testify on behalf of the applicant. 

"The applicant determines who will testify on their behalf," Sproviero told the crowd that filled the council chamber to capacity. 

Although the engineer for the applicant was present, attorneys for the New Milford Redevelopment Associates instead chose to have their , continue his testimony regarding the development of the United Water property as an "inherently beneficial use" in that it would provide low and moderate income housing that will help New Milford reach its "Fair Share Housing Standard."

Upon finding out that the public would not have an opportunity to question the testimony of the applicant's engineer, Miriam Pickett, one of the founding members of SOD, told Patch, "It doesn't surprise me. They're trying to avoid us asking them questions and getting them on the record."

"This is a way for them to get around us getting them on the record," Pickett added. 

Columbia Avenue resident and SOD member Ulisses Cabrerra said, "As concerned citizens we're just addressing the argument that Rich Henning (V.P. of United Water) pointed out to us when he appeared at the "

Cabrerra is referring to the statement Henning made regarding development in the flood plains. During that meeting, Henning said that New Milford's decision to develop in the flood plains is largely to blame for the flooding problem that the town is experiencing today.

Henning elaborated by saying that prior to the 1960's, 75 percent of rainwater was absorbed by grassland while 25 percent went into the brooks and streams. The development boom in Bergen and Rockland Counties that began in the 1960's resulted in almost 100 percent of the run-off going into the brooks and streams. All of this development culminated in the 1980's with increased water supply needs.

Henning said at the November 28 meeting, "We need to restore our flood plains. They were there for a reason."

Henning also stated that the only way to completely solve New Milford's flooding problem is to restore that area to the natural flood plain. 

Acting on that momentum, SOD is basing its movement, in large part, on the argument that the flood plains need to be restored. Pickett said that because the DEP maps show that the United Water property resides in or near the flood zone, SOD firmly believes that the United Water property falls inside the flood zone and should not be developed. 

Dr. Kinsey's testimony took up all of the time allotted to NMRA, meaning that SOD will have to hold its questions until the Zoning Board's May 17 meeting that Sproviero established will be dedicated entirely to NMRA. At that meeting, the public will also be afforded the opportunity to question the applicant's experts. 

The May 17 Zoning Board meeting will be held in Council Chambers at and will begin at 7pm.

Rick May 09, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Rich Henning talks a lot. That's why he has two feet and one mouth. One foot for each side he speaks from. Glad Ann is able to quote the mouthpiece/puppet for United Water here. Perhaps he would like to attend the meeting so he can reiterate his company's argument on SOD's behalf.
Lori Barton May 09, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Rick, that's a great idea! I wonder if he can be subpoenaed? On the one hand, United Water says not to build on flood plains and on the other, they sell their flood plain land to a developer to build on it. Dr. Kinsey's testimony (hours & hours of it, yawn) doesn't amount to anything. SOD is not anti-affordable housing; we are anti building in a flood plain. Dr. Kinsey is big on the "inherent benefits" of supplying affordable housing. Is it an inherent benefit to build in a flood plain? You can grant the "D" variance if a project is inherently beneficial...BUT only if it is not responsible for negative criteria. This development would be responsible for all kinds of negative criteria.
Ulises May 09, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Great comments Rick and Lori. There's about another 20 or more members missing from this photo, which was taken before they all arrived to Boro Hall. SOD!
Concerned NM Resident May 10, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Good points everyone!
Celeste Scavetta May 10, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Further, it is the residents of New Milford's job right now to continue to point out, on record, each and every one of the items that are deemed negative criteria and NOT inherently beneficial. It’s important to have a strong voice and attendance. Every voice, question, comment needs to be on the record. Each request for the developer to provide our town with experts to be witnesses on traffic, safety, noise, perhaps even COAH and let the developer foot the bill for each and every one. I have always stood against high density development, and still am to this day. I am a concerned parent and homeowner who is well aware of at least three MAJOR vehicular accidents in our town in the past month! Two at the current Shop Rite site, and one only feet away from the current proposed site. I attend as many meetings possible to listen and learn. I would love to see so many more of my neighbors come out to these very important meetings as well. And be prepared to stay there until 11 PM! We cannot allow the smart tactics of high-priced attorneys to delay proceedings to the point that there is no public left sitting in the courtroom to voice their questions or opinions. Everyone cannot make every single special meeting on this Application. So please, I implore you, regardless if you are a senior citizen, homeowner, apartment dweller, student, parent, COME OUT and attend these meetings!

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