Waterview Controversy Moves Council to Change Venue
A special session of the governing body is completed in a flash.
The Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council will take five upcoming meetings on the road, following its vote on a resolution at Town Hall Monday night.
At a hastily arranged special meeting, the body convened, held a flag salute, voted on the resolution and adjourned—all in less than 10 minutes.
The attached video offers a view of the substance of the meeting, which was about 30 seconds in length.
The Patch clip shows the point of the gathering: The council voted to hold its March 19 business meeting at Parsippany Hills High School and its April 9, April 16, May 7 and May 14 sessions at Parsippany High School. All will begin at the regular 7:30 p.m. start time, according to the clerk's office.
The purpose of the venue change is to avoid the fate the Planning Board suffered in January, when residents in opposition to a controversial proposal to change the zoning of 26.6 undeveloped acres at Waterview Plaza turned up at Town Hall in numbers that exceeded the fire capacity and forced a fire official to shut down the meeting.
A large and vocal group of residents, many of them members of a grassroots group called Don't Rezone Waterview—now known as Citizens for Health, Safety and Welfare—are fighting the plan, citing concerns over traffic, the environment and quality of life.
Subsequent hearings over RD Realty's proposal to construct a retail and residential development including a Whole Foods Market and a townhouse community had to be conducted at Parsippany High. Despite the vehement opposition, the Planning Board voted in February to recommend an overlay zone for the site to the Township Council, which will make the final decision on whether the zoning change will be granted.
With Monday's vote to gather at the high schools, the council reduces the possibility that angry residents will bring another municipal session to a halt. But Tuesday's agenda meeting is vulnerable: The council did not have the lead time to allow a venue change for that date, so it will go forward at Town Hall. It is possible that enough residents opposed to the Waterview proposal could turn out to make a statement that could help—or hurt—their cause.
The topic of the Waterview proposal is expected to be addressed briefly Tuesday evening, but only in the context of cementing the agenda for the March 19 business meeting at Parsippany Hills High.