New Milford’s SOD Calls Oradell to Action

By Eamon Harbord
The River Dell PATCH – Click here for original article

Neighboring community driven group urges Oradell governing body to educate selves, residents of potential impact from the proposed United Water development

For the past few months, Oradell’s neighbors in New Milford have been battling plans for a proposed supermarket, bank and housing unit development on a 13.6 acre tract near the Hackensack River and New Milford High School. On Tuesday June 12, members from Stop Over Development (SOD) appeared before the Oradell Mayor and Council urging them to educate both themselves and their residents about the potential impacts the development could have on Oradell.

“Our research shows that the development of the United Water property will effect Oradell as much as it would New Milford,” Stop Over Development founder Miriam Pickett said. “I believe a letter from this body to the New Milford Zoning Board of Adjustment could be used as an exhibit when this case goes to court. We have been assured that either way this case will go to court.”

The development, proposed by New Milford Redevelopment Associates LLC and Peter Hekemian, Principal and V.P. of Development for the S. Hekemian Group, includes a 70,500 sq. ft. supermarket, 4300 sq. ft. bank with two drive-thru lanes and a four-story 221 unit multi-family housing complex, that will include an affordable housing component, a 428-space multi-level parking garage and a pool, in the area between Madison Avenue, Main Street, River Road and John D. Cecchino Drive.

The four-story residential housing unit will contain 88 one-bedroom apartments, 117 two-bedroom apartments and 16 three-bedroom apartments while fulfilling New Milford’s second round COAH requirements. The application, which has been called inherently beneficial, calls for 15 percent of the 221 residential units to be set aside to satisfy New Milford’s low housing obligation.

“This is an area that has flooded many times,” Barbara Monahan said. “A development of this size and scope would only acerbate the problem. When it floods, you can not get in or out of New Milford as River Edge Road, New Bridge Road and New Milford Road are underwater. You as our neighbors would feel the negative unintendend consequences of this.”

In addition to the 428 space multi-level parking garage for the residential housing unit, the supermarket includes 354 spaces while the bank includes 44 spaces for a total of 826 proposed spaces. The town requires a total of 925 spaces for a development of this size.

Application engineering expert Michael Dipple had previously testified that he considered flooding to be a “minor” constraint, and that infiltration systems will be installed above and beneath the property to carry the water away from the property. Dipple also said that the backflow preventer will alleviate any water from pooling on the property.

“The Shop Rite could draw 27,000 individual customers per week which is more than the combined populations of Oradell and New Milford,” John Rutledge said. “This would push all of the traffic on Kinderkamack Road in Oradell and Boulevard in New Milford. This is a nightmare for Oradell as it will tax all of your facilities.”

The New Milford Planning Board had denied the developer’s application asking for preliminary and final site plan approval for the 13-acre United Water property which moved the approval process to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment hearings are expected to continue until the end of the year at which point the case would most likely head to the Bergen County court systems on appeal.

The Oradell Council made no decision as of Tuesday night if they would send a letter to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.