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Revised Whole Foods Plan to be Presented Monday

Attorneys for Waterview Plaza's developer give Patch advance look at changes.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Harland January 08, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Marc, I've lived in Parsippany for the past 20 years. During this time, developer after developer has appeared before the town council with high density building projects and the same promise - "my project will bring in tax revenue for your town". In those 20 years, my taxes have never gone down, but instead, they steadily increased. A few years ago, the township expanded several of the grade schools because we were out of capacity (at the taxpayer's expense), and in the last 2 years, the number of classes for certain grades had to be expanded at my child's school because the class sizes grew too large. Development = increased services = increased taxes. Don't believe that the increased taxes will be a net gain for the township.
Marc January 08, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Harland, There is zero chance of tax relief with no increased revenue. Of course its up to the town management to make it work. If they cannot make it work, blame them not contractors and economic expansion.
Harland January 08, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Natalie, I don't understand your point. If the attorney is representing the developer, then the message about the plan being subject to change is coming from the developer. Maybe I don't understand how all this works, but it doesn't make sense to me that the township would approve a plan that is so drastically different from the existing zoning unless the plan was completely thought through. Right now, the plan we're seeing is terrible. I can't imagine how much worse this will get if they're allowed to change aspects of the plan post approval.
Nicholas Robert Homyak January 10, 2013 at 01:41 AM
Waterview Fantasy verses reality The most important paper for this "development" is the Environmental Impact Report" is was not examined nor was it present the night of January 7; as to the sites' wetland and the wetland transition area; how this will affect the aquifers; underground system. It mentions trees but no balance on hand of the types nor their age and ecological significance, for example food for birds, butterfly and other mammals. IN ORDER FOR THE DEVELOPER TO DESTROY THIS REMAINING WOODED AREA THE TOWN WOULD HAVE TO ALLOW CHANGES IN THE ZONING ORDINANCES. We must ask; when was this area zoned; what year exactly? Things have changed much in time. Therefore the area should be considered for Re-Zoning as an open space or wildlife bird sanctuary. This would maintain our sense of place and community. One witness for the corporate developer stated; "this development is unique" and admitting other developments in the surrounding areas; implying that this project is not needed. What would be "unique" would be our community preventing this and having the area saved through our zoning board which after all is suppose to represent the community and sense of place before all! THINK PARSIPPANONG NOT PARSIPANNY..
Natalie Davis January 10, 2013 at 10:17 AM
Harland, you had said the article claimed something. No, the article reported someone else claiming something. This is journalism; the article can claim nothing.

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