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No Gas Stations Planned, Waterview Developer's Attorney Says

Joseph O'Neill addresses concerns raised by opponents of proposed development.

Some of the fears being expressed by opponents of a plan to put retailers including Whole Foods Market and a townhouse community on 26.6 acres of Waterview Plaza are unwarranted. That's according to one of the attorneys representing developer RD Realty in Parsippany Planning Board hearings on the concept.

Right now, the Planning Board is hearing testimony to decide if it will recommend that the Township Council approve RD Realty's request to change the Waterview tract's current status as a Planned Office Development zone into an overlay zone that will permit mixed retail and residential use.

Should the council ultimately agree to the overlay zone, the developer will try to win approval of its plan to place a Whole Foods Market on Waterview Plaza by 2015. The plan also includes other retailers and a 72-unit upscale townhouse community.

A grassroots group involving residents of Parsippany, Mountain Lakes and other nearby towns are working in opposition to the project. Don't Rezone Waterview has launched a campaign including a website, signs and strong participation at Planning Board meetings to stop the effort. The group cites concerns over traffic, noise and other quality of life issues, as well as concerns for falling property values.

The group's concerns were buttressed by the Mountain Lakes Environmental Commission, which presented a report to the Mountain Lakes Borough Council Monday listing a host of potential dangers, including the possibility that an aquifer providing clean water to multiple communities and wellheads being put at risk.

Another fear, presented on the opponents' website, was the possibility of a gas station being part of the plan and the possibility of it adding to contamination of the site.

Much of the concern rested on residents' fears that the language of the overlay, which they say is vaguely written, would leave all 132 acres of the Waterview tract at risk of development.

Attorney Joseph O'Neill of Parsippany law firm Garofalo and O'Neill said the fears are groundless.

"I have confirmed that there are no proposed gas stations in this application," O'Neill told Patch Thursday. "There is no impact anticipated to any of the wellhead ordinance conditions."

The lawyer added that Planning Board Planner Edward Snieckus has stated that the "proposed overlay ordinance only covers properties with frontage on Route 46 for mixed use developments of this type." 

Planning Board deliberations of the Waterview plan continue Feb. 11 at Parsippany High School. Hundreds of residents are expected to attend to oppose the effort.

joe raich February 01, 2013 at 07:56 PM
How is the status of pure water aquifers a "groundless" concern ??? Parsippany can't afford being lied to about our water. Have the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Environment studied and reported on this site ??? P-T has already ignored Lake Hiawatha's retention wall, and Hovnanian's townhouses. "Leaders" have a terrible environmental record. Are we really going to allow 132 acres to be paved over ???
Dave Phillips February 01, 2013 at 08:16 PM
That was one of dozens of grave concerns that people in Parsippany and Mt Lakes have with this outlandish and absurd proposal. If the planning board is not making shady behind the scenes deals with the developers, they should reject the zone change in a heartbeat. This proposal will ruin the area and make Parsippany a worse place to live and do business.
Kevin February 01, 2013 at 09:19 PM
If I was the developer or the retailer, I wouldn't want to build a project that so many residents already oppose. Seems crazy to me. Just drop the idea and make new plans. I would love a whole foods in Parsippany; but why build in there when there is so much poorly developed business space already that could be used instead.
Annie February 02, 2013 at 01:20 AM
As Kevin said "there is so much poorly developed business space already that could be used instead." This would be adding to the poorly developed business space we already have AND endanger the water supply, add noise, light and traffic pollution to our town, bring in a slew of transient traffic every day, 7 days a week. There is no added value to this development, this will not add any value to the town, only decrease it.
Annie February 02, 2013 at 01:44 AM
Also, although the developer has removed the gas station from the revised proposed ordinance, the ordinance still seeks all wellhead protections to be eliminated, which would allow the inclusion of a gas station and other potentially hazardous-for-water retail usages in the future. The original plans had a gas station, what stops a gas station from being built years down the road once the overlay is approved? As for Edward Snieckus' comment that the "proposed overlay ordinance only covers properties with frontage on Route 46 for mixed use developments of this type." Doesn't the other 106 developed acres of Waterview, which office buildings currently occupy and have the same POD zoning as the undeveloped 26.6 acres, have frontage along Rt. 46? To avoid "spot zoning" the overlay would be applied to all POD zones. If it is deemed more profitable for these buildings to be demolished and retail space built on these 105 acres, we will have a "Livingston mall' right here in Parsippany. I can not see how this is good for the environment (water, pollution, etc) nor the traffic, nor the town as a whole.
Annie February 02, 2013 at 01:46 AM
Another thing, the Mayor wants this development becuase he believes it will increase the town's tax ratables. How will this be accomplished? Based on history, there has been ongoing development over 20+ years in Parsippany and I know my taxes have tripled in that time-I am still waiting to see how these developments increase the tax ratables without increasing my taxes to cover the added cost these developments bring to the town.
gene lynch February 02, 2013 at 03:28 AM
how come the patch or any other paper never mentions the Target Superstore,,140 thousand square feet thats going and 900 parking spots thats horrific..We must include this to the whole foods the and the 72 town houses and the 12000 sq ft strip mall
Natalie Davis (Editor) February 02, 2013 at 04:04 AM
Gene Lynch: We too have heard rumors of that discount department store coming to Waterview, here and in Mountain Lakes, but it has not been confirmed. We would be irresponsible to talk about something officials and the developer has yet to confirm. Once they announce the mystery retailer, we will report it.
Nicholas Robert Homyak February 02, 2013 at 01:09 PM
In all truth the Waterview developers are not as they claim "smart" planners nor was their scale model of the proposed project in keeping with with State regulations concerning Environmentally sensitive areas; wetlands and their transition zones; for example no topographic map showing contours of the terrain. Wetlands and wetland transition zones exact boundaries were inaccurate and incomplete. The mature upland forest community and its trees were not addressed, as this forest destruction or alteration will effect the wetland areas. This forest remains important to wetlands boundaries over time and is important to important wildlife; song birds and the monarch butterfly for example. Issues like run-off, lawn chemicals, trash, litter oil all this will negatively impact the whole area.. The whole proposal is outrageous not only could it not pass the States Smart Development Scoreboard but is a direct threat to the integrity and purity of the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act. IT IS UNNECESSARY, UNDESIRABLE AND UNWANTED BY THE COMMUNITY! If the planning board allows this they all should be investigated. These last remaining woodlands are very important to the areas as is. The value of a mature upland forest community is greater than any plan that an already over developed area can gain. In fact it will lose..These whole foods people should of been dismissed already by now!
Parsippany Taxpayer February 02, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Just another day of corruption n Parsippany at its finest. I can't believe my neighbors keep voting these crooks in office. Wasn't our great Mayor on the board back in 2002 -- the year of the last real estate scandal where the developer actually got caught bribing public officials in Parsippany? Of course the developer was found guilt but only got a slap on the wrist because he was determined too old to do jail time for corruption. Go figure - even when they get caught the system is there to ensure there are no real penalties -- hence it is just business as usual for our current local government who clearly aren't representing the best interest of the community.

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