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.