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Whole Foods Hearing Monday Starts Planning Board's New Year

Large crowd expected at Parsippany High for continued testimony on controversial development proposal.

The Parsippany Planning Board starts its new year in a new place with consideration of an old controversy: the Waterview Plaza development proposal that includes a plan to bring a Whole Foods Market to town.

Testimony on the hotly disputed issue will continue Monday at Parsippany High School, at Baldwin and Vail roads. The board's reorganization will take place at 7 p.m., and the meeting will follow at 7:30 p.m.

The Planning Board was expected to take up the matter during its Dec. 17 regular session at Town Hall. But a massive turnout of residents from Parsippany neighborhoods such as Intervale, Lake Parsippany and Rainbow Lakes, along with visiting citizens from nearby Mountain Lakes, exceeded the number of people allowed in Council Chambers under local fire law. Parsippany Fire Official Michael D'Alessandro was compelled to shut down the gathering in the interest of public safety.

The over-capacity turnout was due to an influx of residents vehemently opposed to a plan to develop 26 acres of Waterview Plaza, which is presently zoned for office space. RD Realty wants to win Township Council approval to turn the property into an overlay zone, which would allow mixed business and residential use. The developer's plan is to build a Whole Foods Market on the site, along with additional commercial space for retailers and a 72-unit upscale townhouse community.

Residents argue that the Waterview development project will create environmental problems, boost traffic, and create possible school overcrowding, higher taxes and negative impacts on their quality of life.

After testimony is finished and the body has heard public comment, the Planning Board will make an up or down recommendation to the Township Council.

N Kienzle December 20, 2012 at 01:34 AM
How many meetings does the council need to hold before they realize the proposed development is an unwelcome environmental and developmental disaster? The residents don't want it - period.
clyde donovan December 20, 2012 at 05:08 AM
The planning board will drag this out until everyone loses interest. Then, when there is a meeting with very few in attendance, they'll approve it.
clyde donovan December 20, 2012 at 05:10 AM
I'd like to know why our open-space money - a combination of township and county dollars - isn't being used to buy this 26 acres. That's why we pay this extra tax.
Ed Dantes December 20, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Clyde the town doesn't need to use the Open Space money to buy this tract. The Dodge Family gave it to the town, with the understanding that it remain open space. Of course Parsippany then sold the Property off to a developer. I believe this was done during Former Mayor Priore's time in office. You remember those days when we also gave the rights away to build on the open spaced wetlands off Mazdabrook rd and gave the developers the rights to drain Forge Pond.
Harland December 20, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Clyde, This would be an appropriate use of the open space funding, and if this project is ultimately rejected, this is something the towship should pursue. I don't think this will happen with the current Mayor in charge - he views the open space fund as "free cash" to spend on his pet projects like the FOD. The option to use open space funding to actually purchase open space will return once Barberio is voted out of office next year.
Analli Citall December 20, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Just understand if Parsippany uses Open Space Funds to own this piece of property it will also take a hit to the tax rateable. There is no income received from Town owned properties, including all Open Space. I do not have the answer but there seems to be some solution out there to increase the tax rateables and still keep the same feeling of the neighborhood. I don't want Rt 46 to feel like one long strip mall but I would love to see my taxes go down.
Pete December 20, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Clyde wrote "The planning board will drag this out until everyone loses interest. Then, when there is a meeting with very few in attendance, they'll approve it." For once I agree with him. That's how these dirty small-town deals always get done.
Harland December 20, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Hi Analli, Two thoughts on this: 1) I don't think there would be any impact to tax ratables if the property is converted to open space because it is currently undeveloped. They only way ratables would go down is if the property was currently being used commercially and was converted to open space. Admittedly, i'm not an expert on this, and I would appreciate a clarification from anyone who is more knowledgable. 2) Even if this land is developed and starts bringing in revenue, your taxes won't go down. Just look at Parsippany's track record if you want proof. Parsippany has experienced uncontrolled, high-density development over the past several decades, and developers sold these projects to the township with the promise of the "high ratables" they would bring. But with all this development and increased revenue, nobody's taxes have gone down (they haven't even remained flat). The reason is twofold. First, increased development means increased services, so township expenses increase along with revenue resulting in no net gain to residents. Second, if you give a politician a dollar, he will spend two in return. Even if this project generated additional revenue after services, there is no way that money would be returned to the citizens of the township. The town council would find ways to spend it rather than decrease our taxes.
Parsippany Taxpayer December 20, 2012 at 07:17 PM
There isn't going to be a loss in interest. Traffic is already horrible in parsippany and this would compound insult to injury. If these townhouses are upscale I have two bridges to sell to you -- Brooklyn and GWB. Intervale school is already at a 20 to 1 ratio and crowded and now you want to throw in another 70 homes in the area which would probably end up in additional taxes spent to expand or build a new school. Not to mention the legal expenses for the township as many of the Intervale section Parsippany residents sue for financial loss as a result of the negative property value impact this porject is causing to this part of Parsippany. This same clown of a mayor James Barberio served on the board back in 2002 during the last scandal -- coincidence? I don't think so. We the residents of Parsippany are ready for a full blown fight with the town on this proposition which smells corrupt to the core. Here is the 2002 article about the corruption. There are 1000 reason this shouldn't happen and only a few corrupt reasons why anyone would push for this against the majority of the residents of Parsippany and 90%+ of the Intervale section. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2008/02/parsippany_planning_board_atto.html
Mrs. K December 26, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Why isn't anyone talking about the cemetary back there???? Where are they going to relocate all the graves? Are they just going to build over them???
Natalie Davis (Editor) December 27, 2012 at 10:49 PM
The cemetery is not part of the area being considered for development, and therefore any complaints regarding it are groundless. That burial area, per town map, is distinct in terms of geography and zoning and is protected from any action that might occur. They won't build over it because they cannot by law.
Kenneth Kaplan January 02, 2013 at 02:04 PM
I love the idea of a Whole Foods coming to Parsippany. I think it would be a great use for that tract. Tax money should not be used to prevent development. If opponents feel strongly enough, they should start a non-profit conservancy group and buy it themselves.
Analli Citall January 04, 2013 at 04:35 AM
Harland, It has a rateable of $125,473.35. Not exactly pocket change. Now where is that tax revenue going to come from if this becomes a tax exempt piece of property under Open Space? If they develop the property the possibility of the tax rateable increasing is a definite. Just using as one example the property right next to it has a tax bill of $626,453.81. Now if we had another property bringing in that kind of revenue we wouldn't have to even do the bond for the new fields. 10 years of that tax would pay for almost the entire $7,700,000 bond needed for the new fields. So, though my taxes may not go down, there is an obvious example of why they don't have to go UP.
Pete January 04, 2013 at 02:27 PM
Let Whole Foods go in the space that Walgreen's is vacating (the old Channel Lumber site). There's plenty of parking, and the buiilding's already there. Access from Eastbound 46 isn't perfect but there are two ways in - Vail Rd. and then thru the apartments, or the Baldwin Rd. jughandle.
Kenneth Kaplan January 04, 2013 at 02:54 PM
They already have a new tenant for that location and that space is way too small for a Whole Foods.
Kathy Izzo January 04, 2013 at 04:18 PM
I am all for the Whole Foods project.....if you people don't like traffic I think you should all move to up-state New York.
Parsippany Taxpayer January 07, 2013 at 05:34 AM
Kathy -- you obviously have no clue... Let's see overcrowd the schools with a bunch of row homes (probably rentals), throw in 3 large retailers in there and convert over office space zoning that could bring in tax base to a tax drain area with tons of congestion. Lower surrounding properties in the meantime and burden the township with additional tax loss from depreciated value properties. You can take your overpriced organic cucumber and shove it where the shine doesn't shine while sitting in the additional traffic congestion that is already horrible from 46 Willowbrook to Intervale. Glad the town idiots voted these corrupt clowns into office. This has a feeling of a repeat of the 2002 corruption land deal.
Parsippany Taxpayer January 07, 2013 at 05:37 AM
Also great timing for the meeting with the 830 BCS Championship game... Just another way to inconvenience the local taxpayers with nonsense that shouldn't even be a topic. Just say no to ILLEGAL rezoning and say NO to re-electing any of these idiots including the mayor who isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.
Sick of the trolls January 07, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Of course you have proof of that, right RC? Otherwise you wouldn't be so afraid of retribution for making such claims that you need a pseudonym to post, right? You're a real brave person hiding behind that moniker and calling people corrupt and telling other users to shove things "where the shine doesn't shine" (what does that even MEAN, btw?) Good thing you're moving away, right? I won't miss you when you're gone.
Mrs. K January 08, 2013 at 06:04 PM
It may not appear to be an issue, but traditionally, townhomes are transitional housing. Therefore, how will a cemetary in the backyard of the development effect resale values?? More vacant buildings in town?? And just because someone by law cannot do something, when has that stopped them? If a law was a detterent, then we wouldn't have criminals!
Analli Citall January 08, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Mrs. K, If we had no laws then we wouldn't have criminals as well.
Kenneth Kaplan January 08, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Mrs. K, I don't know why you consider a cemetery a detriment to resale. Many people find cemeteries to be tranquil places, unlikely to ever change, and populated by the quietist of neighbors.
Tom O'Brien September 09, 2013 at 06:15 PM
I think it will be great for Parsippany to get a Whole Foods. It will bring jobs to the community- during construction and afterwards.

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