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Development in Parsippany: A Constant

From farmland, to housing developments, to apartments, to industrial parks, Parsippany's location near New York City is the reason development has continued. Now the question is "What next?"

Parsippany-Troy Hills has been greatly changed by development in the last 50 years.  This is partly because of the amount of open land that existed at the start of the 1950s when the town was dominated by large dairy farms and chicken farms, and large estates owned by Geraldine R. Dodge, the Ballantine family, and the McAlpin  family.

Farms in Parsippany supplied vegetables, milk and eggs to the New York market. The short distance to the city was important before widespread refrigeration. Most of these large tracts of land became housing developments in the 1950s, as people moved out of more urban areas in search of back yards and better schools.

Morris County also became an important summer destination for people escaping the heat and crowding of cities. Parsippany’s population grew in the summer as lake communities were developed in the 1930s, but more and more houses in these communities were winterized and converted into year-around residences in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

As the population grew, need for services grew as well: more schools, better roads, a police force, fire departments.  Town government recognized the need to diversify the development and welcomed industry, which contributed ratables to the tax-base. 

As a result of that decision, Parsippany taxes are low for Morris County—40 percent are paid for by industrial and corporate entities. Between 1960 and 1970, 7,000 apartment units were added. Interstates 287 and 80 were constructed.

All that growth in such a short period resulted in a patch-work of buildings and areas. As old roads were widened, many older houses were demolished.  Some were neglected, as old families died off and houses were not maintained.

Development pressures threatened Craftsman Farms. Highway development impacted Beverwyck mansion, and the Livingston Benedict House. The Condit House stood vacant for several years, until an agreement between the town and Hunting Ridge allowed for its restoration.

As the oldest roads became the major roads in the township, they needed to be widened, increasing impact on the oldest churches and houses.

In the Parsippany of today, little of the past remains. The buildings that do remain, do so because of the commitment of private owners and groups of people in the Parsippany Historic and Preservation Society,  the Parsippany Troy Hills Preservation Advisory Committee, and a group called SOHHO (Society of Historic House Owners). These groups are currently working to insure that the revised Master Plan will aid preservation efforts in Parsippany.

Development decisions are made by the Planning Board, whose job it is to develop and enforce the Master Plan, and the Zoning Board of Adjustment, which serves in the capacity of an appeals boards about land use decisions.  Decisions are being made now which will determine the Parsippany-Troy Hills of the future. Ten or 12 years may elapse between the time a building is given a permit and the time it is actually built.

What should the Parsippany of the future look like? What parts of the past will we choose to continue to preserve? 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

clyde donovan January 07, 2013 at 10:53 PM
If you live in Mount Tabor, you need to read between the lines of this essay. It appears your neighborhood is going to be targeted for restrictive historic ordinances. It might be to your benefit to sell your house before you can't give it away. The handwriting is on the wall.
Sick of the trolls January 07, 2013 at 11:16 PM
"Clyde," what are you TALKING about? Where does it say anything about Mt. Tabor? Your comment has nothing to do with this article. If there is handwriting on the wall, you're the only one who sees it. You're obsessed with Mt. Tabor, bashing it and Parsippany constantly. Are you bitter because you couldn't afford a home there? Don't you have a local bar where you can go and complain about this stuff and leave the rest of us to have a civil conversation? Might I suggest the Blackthorne, it's usually so loud in there that nobody will have to listen to you; you can blather on about every little thing that's bothering you to your heart's content without bothering the rest of us.
Sick of the trolls January 08, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Oh, comedy. Fun! You really "zinged" me there, "clyde." Nothing says humor like making fun of someone's infirmities, does it? It says volumes about you that you think being compared to the Secretary of State is somehow an insult. Now get back under your bridge.
clyde donovan January 09, 2013 at 04:56 PM
The target for restrictive historic preservation ordinances is Mount Tabor, The main picture on this township webpage is a building in Mount Tabor: http://www.parsippany.net/Boards-and-Committees/Historical/ A small group of people appear to be aiming to force homeowners in Mount Tabor to pay to maintain their homes the way this group thinks the homes ahould be maintained. This would also include country club and association buidings. It would also apply to any other buildings and areas in Parsippany that these groups think is historic.
Dave Phillips January 09, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Taxes are "low"? That is an absurd comment to make.
Dave Phillips January 09, 2013 at 10:36 PM
More development will turn Parsippany in to an Edison, Woodbridge, Union with stiffling traffic and lots more crime.
Daniel P. Clarke January 10, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Depending on which burrough you live in the taxes are still cheap. Look at the towns around us like monville boonton denville ect all thoses towns taxes are way more then ours.
clyde donovan January 10, 2013 at 08:14 PM
The 2011 general tax rate is higher in Denville and Montville but lower in Boonton and Boonton Township. It's also lower in Mountain Lakes. See the rates for yourself: http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/lpt/taxrate.shtml
Nicholas Robert Homyak January 10, 2013 at 08:15 PM
This new attempt by JMF Properties for the river-view wooded lot is really too much. Go on line and download the New Jersey Smart Growth Scorecard for proposed development and you can see for yourself This proposal fails in the 7 section score grade used. Remember under Chris Christie your on your own; so don't believe for one minute that this JMF is trying to pass off an "assessment" they paid a private firm for as an environmental impact statement it is not and the assessment is so bold as to state concerning the ambiguous "wetland issue" involved that "only" the NJDEP can determine this for sure. They sure have not anyone reading EcolScience Inc. Dear Joe letter can see its all bogus. If this JMF corporate has so much money why don't they help Parsipanny finish the sewer system project to stop run off; many of our sewers have the large entrance allowing plastic and trash to wash out into our Rockaway River Sensitive Area. United States is there such a place??
Nicholas Robert Homyak January 11, 2013 at 01:15 AM
Read THE GEOGRAPHY OF NOWHERE; by James Howard Kunstler. Explains what the automobile and zoning boards did to our once beautiful American Landscapes. Being born 1950 saw allot of it myself. Soon History will be just a picture on the wall in the Town Hall.History does not repeat itself crime does without a story or History we are phonies with money is our pockets.
clyde donovan January 11, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Mount Tabor: As soon as a large part of your neighborhood becomes a state/national historic district you will lose equal access to your municipal tax dollars targeted for infrastructure improvements compared to almost all other areas of Parsippany. If the township - or any other governmental entity - wants to do infrastructure improvements in the Mount Tabor historic area, such as road restoration or the installation of road drains, first the township will have to have its plans reviewed and approved by Department Of Environmental Protection. Here's how it works, as quoted from the link below: * Submission of an Application for Project Authorization; * HPO (state Historic Preservation Office) review for determination of Encroachment or No Encroachment. (Encroachment - any public project that might modify a historic building or land); * Review by the Historic Sites Council for those projects deemed Encroachments. * Projects that do not constitute an encroachment are approved administratively; * Final action by the Commissioner based on HPO and Historic Sites Council recommendations. http://www.nj.gov/dep/hpo/2protection/njrrevew.htm#hsc Almost no other area in Parsippany would have to go through this process, except for a couple of small historic districts that already exist. The people of Mount Tabor are going to be last on the Parsippany list for any kind of public-works improvements because Tabor projects are going to cost more.
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