I represent Don't Rezone Waterview, a Parsippany grassroots organization that includes residents of Mountain Lakes. We, along with residents from Rainbow Lakes and other neighboring towns, are banding together in opposition to the proposed rezoning of the Waterview corporate park.
The group is comprised mostly of Parsippany residents, led by people who live along Forest Drive whose properties back up against the proposed development. The first meeting was held at the Parsippany Library earlier this month. We have been consolidating mailing lists; speaking with lawyers, experts, government officials; developing social media (currently on Yahoogroups), working on public relations and networking with environmental organizations.
In Mountain Lakes, I can tell you that I personally know of six local attorneys involved behind the scenes trying to fight this nightmare scenario —in their spare time—which will destroy our local region. But we are fighting an uphill battle since we do not have the time or financial resources to mount a formidable defense against the developer.
We need experts willing to testify at the Feb 11 final Planning Board meeting at Parsippany High School to rebut the developer’s testimony regarding the lack of environmental impact and the impact of the legal changes they are proposing.
The Planning Board has played an interesting game with the public. When too many people showed up for its December meeting at Parsippany Town Hall, it was postponed and relocated to Parsippany High, where over 300 extremely angry local residents showed up and began raising issues and questions.
Most people were told to stop their questions and sit down since they did not specifically address the given testimony of the developer’s architect. The Planning Board attorney said, in most cases, that these questions should have been asked of the developer’s expert planner who had already testified at an earlier meeting. People were livid that they were, in effect, being gagged.
After nearly five hours at this meeting and after most of the public had gone home, the developer then introduced his planner, who had been sitting next to him the entire time, to offer additional testimony! No one bothered to tell the public that he was sitting there the whole time or that he would be speaking and that they could address their questions to him. It was a sickening display of gamesmanship.
Clearly, the Planning Board intends to recommend this massive rezoning change and the Town Council will rubberstamp it—it appears very clear to most that Mayor James Barberio (who also sits on the Planning Board) is strangely staunchly in favor of this plan despite huge community opposition —and has apparently made himself unavailable to Parsippany leaders of the opposition.
The Parsippany Planning Board and its former attorney John Montefusco Sr. are no strangers to 2008 charges of corruption involving taking kickbacks from developers.
The Environmental Commission of Mountain Lakes will make its recommendation regarding the Parsippany development scheme to the Mountain Lakes Borough Council Monday, Jan. 28, from 8-9 p.m. at Mountain Lakes Borough Hall, 400 Boulevard.
The commission has been investigating traffic, water, and light/noise/air pollution issues and their impact on the region. The developer proposes to eliminate all water wellhead protections and there are apparently many such wells located on the 27-acre and 132-acre properties. The effect would be that they could put in gas stations or anything on top of our drinking water wells that come from our aquifer and the NJ Department of Enviromental Protection has already stated that our region will suffer severe water shortages or may be out of water by 2030.
The towns of Parsippany and Mountain Lakes are already under water restrictions. Mountain Lakes had to apply to the federal Enviromental Protection Agency in order to get a half-million dollar air stripper to repair the water damage done to its well on Route 46 due to B & V Dry Cleaners dumping toxic chemicals into the ground surrounding the wellhead. Those federal monies are now next to impossible to get.
The total destruction of the 27 acres of woodlands will also permanently damage the water recharge area which is critical to our aquifer.
Despite all of these issues which will clearly affect the property values in Mountain Lakes and our quality of life, the Mountain Lakes Borough Council has demonstrated severe reluctance to get involved in what it considers the business and sole discretion of Parsippany. Very strange indeed, since residents of both municipalities are extremely outraged by the rezoning proposal.
We all will be affected negatively in a big way.
We ask residents of Parsippany to stand with us at the Monday Mountain Lakes Borough Council meeting and at the Feb. 11 final meeting of the Parsippany Planning Board at Parsippany High, 309 Baldwin Road. We want to pack the 800-person capacity auditorium (perhaps with enough people that the meeting will have to be postponed for an additional 30 days). The public will, at that time, have the opportunity to ask the developer’s planner the questions they wanted to ask at the last meeting, plus expert testimony will be permitted, and every member of the public will have the opportunity to speak for 3 minutes.
Nancy du Tertre
Don't Rezone Waterview