Regarding Introduced Zoning Ordinance 2013:28
Up until now, in the apparent and stated interest of following “due process,” the Council has been content to allow the developer’s presentation of a plan and accompanying proposed ordinance to double or triple the intensity currently allowed on the final lot of the Waterview tract, and with it the devastation of key environmental assets embodied in the Doremus Ridge (overlooking Intervale Rd., Forest Dr. and the Waterview tract) and the associated buffer zones. The Council has also been subjected to the baffling capitulation of the Township Planning Consultant, Ed Snieckus, Jr. of Burgis Associates, Inc., whose presentations, studies and draft ordinance mostly “rubber-stamped” those of the developer and abrogated his responsibility to safeguard the Township’s interests and those of the intensely threatened neighbors of the greedy developer.
So far, hardly any effort has been made to correct the zoning ordinance being considered (2013:38), in order to make sure that it would maintain the safeguard clauses of the existing (and “underlying”) POD ordinance with respect to the environmental and other impacts, as contained in paragraphs A-H of Clause 430-155. Even if some proposed new uses may be judged to be acceptable, there is no reason that those safeguards, which were carefully constructed by the forefathers of the Council and Planning Board in 1982, must be thrown away. It would be easy to introduce such uses via the Conditional Uses clause 430-154, with one of the conditions being that, of course, Clause 430-155 must always be obeyed. It is not clear why this approach is not being utilized instead of the “overlay” technique that was requested by the developer, unless there is an intention to use the “overlay” approach to completely undermine the planned and compatible development which is supposed to be embodied in the POD zone.
I point out that the first “WHEREAS” clause of 2013:28 states a false premise: “the current zoning … has not resulted in the development thereof”. Actually, it HAS resulted in successful development of the Waterview tract, up to 80-90% of full allowed development, leaving only a 10-20% shortfall. It is that final 10-20% “icing on the cake” that the developer is seeking, and trying to turn it into “cake on the cake”.
Back in 1982, I recall extensive discussion by the Council and Planning Board about how to ensure sound, mutually beneficial development in harmony with maintaining compatibility and not harming the neighboring residences and also the environmental impacts. I haven’t heard much discussion yet among the Council members. I hope that the Council is simply waiting until the final hour, following completion of the submission of the developer’s ideas, the botched draft ordinance orchestrated by Mr. Snieckus, the supplemental studies, and the public input, to thereafter step up and engage in that full discussion and careful consideration.
The damages that would be done if the developer is allowed to flatten Doremus Ridge and reduce the buffer along Intervale Rd. would be devastating and would not be able to be undone. I implore you to refuse to weaken the Height, Area and Other Bulk Requirements of paragraphs A-H of Clause 430-155 of the current POD zoning ordinance. Whatever development use may be allowed (and I suggest that 3 different uses is too many for this relatively small 26-acre environmentally-sensitive lot), please keep it limited to fit within the bulk requirements already in place since 1982. There is no need, and no redeeming value, to overwhelm that lot and the neighborhood with the excessive development intensity proposed by the developer and being permitted in the presented ordinance.
Furthermore, I point out that the proposed ordinance, as currently written, is the opposite of the concluding sentence in its Statement of Objectives:
“The RCR Overlay District complements the intent of the underlying POD Zoning District; developed in concert with the surrounding physical and environmental features in its criteria, with specific consideration given to the surrounding neighborhood development pattern.”
On the contrary, the undermining of the bulk requirements would generate huge damages on the “surrounding physical and environmental features … [and] the surrounding neighborhood development pattern”, which today is our own high-valued version of Shangri-La (and part of what makes Parsippany and adjacent Mountain Lakes high-rated residential communities), and tomorrow would become just a mediocre retail/commercial-scarred second-class neighborhood.
Please make sure to review and discuss each clause of the ordinance, especially how each compares with its counterpart in the current ordinance, and then to correct the excesses in order to become an ordinance of benefit to Parsippany, its residents (and neighbors) and the environment, not just the developer. If that cannot be done, it should be rejected or tabled until such revisions can be incorporated. The worst option is to “rubber stamp” it and pass it “blindly” in its current form.
Thank you for your full and careful consideration,
Stephen C. Arnold