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SOD Submits Petition Protesting Rezoning United Water Property

1100 signatures are hand delivered to the Mayor and Council asking them not to rezone the United Water property.

More than 1100 names appeared on a petition asking that the Mayor and Council not rezone the United Water property. 

member John DeSantis presented the petition during Monday's work session stressing that rezoning the property is a "lousy compromise" and instead encouraged them to stand up to the potential builder's remedy. 

"All (Hekemian) got you to do is accept what he's wanted from day one," DeSantis said. 

While commending SOD's "passion, efforts, desire and love for New Milford," Councilman Diego Robalino countered that he was elected to represent all the residents of New Milford. 

"If we can take out 221 units, we're balancing all the needs of New Milford," Robalino said. "Any other way is a gamble. Too risky."

In light of the new information presented by Mayor Ann Subrizi that , Robalino told the assembled audience, "We're in control."

"(Hekemian's) playing you like a fiddle," DeSantis shot back. "You have no control."

DeSantis proclaimed that it is too early in the process for the Mayor and Council to "cave in," adding that they can give the developer what he wants (rezoning) in six months and he would still take it. 

SOD Executive Director Miriam Pickett supported DeSantis' position that Hekemian is "playing the council."

"SOD predicted that exactly what happened would happened," Pickett contended. "(Hekemian) was giving his worse case scenario (in the application before the Zoning Board) so that you would accept his initial offer."

Subrizi answered that doing nothing and letting the application run its course with the Zoning Board is too much of a gamble and feels that rezoning is in New Milford's best interest.  

Pickett stated that she "firmly" believes that the developer is employing scare tactics by dangling the cost of a potential lawsuit, reiterating that SOD's position is to let the Zoning Board come to its decision and asked that the Mayor and Council do the same before embarking on drafting a rezoning ordinance. 

"This can be fought," Pickett implored the Mayor and Council. "Don't let this developer lead you by the nose.

Lori Barton September 12, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Go SOD! Subrizi thinks rezoning is in New Milford's best interest. Why not let New Milford decide what's in our best interest? There are so many options out there for grant money. Preventing 221 apartments is not the only part of this that SOD and New Milford have been fighting. We are fighting to save open space. We are fighting to prevent air, water, and noise pollution. We are fighting to prevent traffic congestion. We are fighting to prevent overload on our emergency services. The only thing the rezoning solves is to prevent further school overcrowding. But that is not enough. We are fighting to preserve our quality of life. We know that all of the detriments this development would bring to our community will only be exacerbated by higher taxes. What a shame that we are being led by cowards who lack vision.
TommyIce September 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM
A ballot referendum should be the only way a rezoning of this magnitude should happen. We have an upcoming ballot referendum for building a field IN A FIELD. Why not this? Could it be because they know that the townspeople will vote to defend their town!
TommyIce September 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM
With either decision (allowing the Zoning Board it's due or council vote on the rezoning) is a gamble. And this Mayor and Council are betting that they're the better poker player. Last time I drove down Main Street and River Road, I never imagined that it would rival the famous Strip in Las Vegas.
Jose A. Camacho, Esq. September 12, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Mayor Subrizi, and Council Members Berner, Robalino, Colucci and Duffie are all going against the desires of New Milfords residents. If you are in public service you should be aware that for every person who actually took the time to sign that petition there are at least ten others who have the same desires. I would take 1100 signatures to be a good sampling of the wishes of New Milfords residents. A continued disregard for their desires will hopefully be repaid by the ballot this election.
Jose A. Camacho, Esq. September 12, 2012 at 01:09 PM
It is truly dissapointing when people you liked and voted for seem to disregard your desires once in office! As voters all we have is the ballot and all we can do is vote someone else in.
Jon September 12, 2012 at 01:10 PM
I couldn't agree with you more Tommy. If Robalino wants to represent all the residents of the town he should agree to the referendum. What better way to represent than through an outright vote?
Ulises September 12, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Attend today's SOD meeting at the Senior Center on River Road, right across the street from the proposed development. Bring your neighbors and friends. The meeting starts at 7:30 PM. SOD!
AML September 12, 2012 at 05:35 PM
At least I have the courage to admit that I supported many of the current Mayor & Council members with my vote, & I now realize that it was a monumental mistake! I can happily say that I have learned from my mistake & it certainly won't happen again. Councilman Robalino with his lame excuse of why he was elected to office...to represent all of the people of NM, please do not insult my intelligence, or the intelligence level of the residents of NM......HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE GONE UP TO THE PODIUM AT THE ZONING BOARD, MAYOR & COUNCIL MEETINGS, & WHOLEHEARTEDLY STATED THAT THEY WANTED THIS DEVELOPMENT? Of all of the meetings that I attended, not one person did! Why can't the Mayor & Council admit that they did not perform their due diligence when United Water approached them & provided the option to purchase the property? How can the Mayor not recall a $1,000,000.00/$1,500,000.00 down payment offer to purchase the property? Sounds like convenient amnesia to me! Why is it that only Robalino & Colucci voted against the special inquiry to look into the allegations of improprities of the M & C? What are they trying to hide, or, whom are they trying to protect? If there is nothing to hide from why not justify an inquiry? The M & C underestimated the power of the wonderful grass roots group called SOD. It is not too late not to rezone. Don't underestimate the power of what a united group of people can do come Election day. Start making plans now for a new second career.
Barbara September 12, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Rezoning makes this property available for Commercial development forever. Don't rezone. The shopping center is located in the center of town. The people in the apartments enjoy the ease of access to this shopping. Don't rezone.
Jose A. Camacho, Esq. September 13, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Rezoning would be a huge mistake, where as long as a developers proposal fell within the new zoning provisions review by the Zoning Board would be unecessary and must be approved, taking away any control over any proposed developmeent, and making any purchase of the property by the borough nearly impossible by increasing its worth to proposed developers.
Barbara September 13, 2012 at 11:22 AM
If the mayor and council can change the zoning, why do we need a zoning board? It seem redundant to me.
Lori Barton September 13, 2012 at 11:43 AM
I feel the same way Barbara. Why do we have boards and commissions if the M&C choose to ignore them? Why not let this play out before the zoning board? They have given countless hours of their time. Why have an environmental commission if you are going to ignore their recommendations? Why should only 4 people have the final say on what is in the best interests of this community when the residents have made their wishes clear? Why don't we have true leadership like in Cedar Grove where their M&C went to bat for their constituents and won? Why do the M&C of Oradell care more about preventing development of this property than our M&C? There are way too many unanswered questions.

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