When the township Planning Board gathers at Parsippany High School Monday night to resume hearing testimony on the proposed Waterview Plaza development project—which would include a new Whole Foods Market—it will see a revised plan that may ease the minds of worried potential neighbors.
Attorney Joseph O'Neill of the firm Garofalo & O'Neill, which is representing developer RD Realty, exclusively presented news of the changes to Patch.
RD Realty wants to turn the now-undeveloped land, which presently is zoned only for office space, 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.
O'Neill said the changes are being suggested in hopes of making the project more palatable to residents who have registered vocal opposition to the plan at previous Planning Board meetings. In fact, so many residents filled Council Chambers at Town Hall Dec. 17 to register their disapproval, the fire capacity limit was surpassed and the gathering had to be postponed to Monday and moved to a larger location.
"These changes are in answer to the complaints we heard," O'Neill said.
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.
The lawyer offered a summary of the alterations made to the plan presented thus far:
- The residential development access has moved from Intervale Road to Waterview Blvd. This would answer resident complaints about traffic disrupting the lives of those who live on Intervale Road.
- Building setbacks to the properties on Forest Drive, initially set at 50 feet, have been increased to 75 feet. Some residents expressed their belief that 50 feet was not enough setback space.
- The residential component density has been reduced to seven dwelling units per acre and the non-residential component has a net floor-area ratio of .3, which is the same as similar districts in Parsippany. Many had stated their discomfort with an initially higher density in the project.
- A pedestrian connection has been added to the shopping center to enable those in residential units to travel on foot safely to the retail section.
- The residential building height has been reduced to 35 feet from 40 feet to conform with the maximum allowed by law in residential zones. There had been complaints over the initial plan, in which the three-story townhomes being built would have exceeded what's allowed by ordinance.
From the first presentation of the project, O'Neill and partner Robert Garofalo have argued that they are discussing only the concept at this point and that most of the plan's elements can be changed.
When the Planning Board finishes hearing testimony and public comment, the body will make a recommendation to the Township Council, whose five members will decide whether the Waterview tract development will proceed.