Honeywell Chemicals Contained, Expert Says
Contaminated ground water one of main concerns of company's property, traffic issues also discussed at second public hearing.
The next phase of the Honeywell redevelopment process continued Wednesday night with input from experts about the environmental and traffic impacts if the company were to build out its property for mixed-use.
The experts presented their analyses to the planning board back in December, but this was the first time they went before the township committee and it followed with public comment.
The meeting—which was the second public hearing after last week's meeting that focused on the financial analysis—started with the environmental impacts with a presentation by Marie Raser, a consultant for the independent environmental consulting firm EcolSciences.
One of the main areas of concern on the company's 147-acre property, Raser said, is the contaminated ground water on the campus that contains carbon tetrachloride. The chemical's presence was discovered in 1976, but its source is still unknown. Other detected contaminants are trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, which were found though monitoring wells drilled in the site.
Although contaminants have been present, Raser said they are controlled by a well and will not move off Honeywell's property.
"Right now the ground water flows across the property, and there is a well that is being pumped continually that keeps the water from exiting the site," she said. "All the contamination stays on the site, and it decreases somewhat over time."
Other environmental problems are from pesticides that were detected in the soils in the office part of the site.
Raser said these soils are "still being investigated and remediated, and they will meet residential standards before any residential development is pursued."
Questions were raised by Mayor Peter Mancuso if there would be contamination in the 14-acre open space area, and also in drinking water.
Raiser explained that the contamination would not impact the open space because it is in the back of the property, and the drinking water would not have an effect either because it is not supplied by the ground water.
Raser said Honeywell is responsible for testing the ground water on a regular basis and reporting to the DEP on the status, because it is considered a Classification Exception Area.
The report, which is posted on the Morris Township website under the Master Plan Amendment, states that adding in the town homes and office and lab space is "appropriate" for the environmental use.
Traffic Concerns Addressed
Gordon Meth, an engineer from RBA, presented the firm's traffic analysis on Wednesday night as well.
Meth said that while any development in that area would increase traffic, his report laid out two scenarios--one that would occur if Honeywell fully developed its property and used its 1.4 million square feet completely for just office and lab space under its current zoning, and the other scenario--the proposed redevelopment plan--that would add in 235 townhomes and about 900,000 square feet of office and lab space.
According to Meth, the first scenario would result in an increase in traffic in comparision to the proposed plan.
If Honeywell was able to go through with the proposed plan, traffic at peak morning peak hours--from about 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.--and evening peak hours--from about 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.--would decrease about 25 percent.
The analysis also examined the traffic changes that would occur at four of the busiest intersections. With the busiest intersection at Columbia Turnpike and Park Avenue, the firm predicts a net increase between 76 and 100 trips in both the morning and evening peak hours.
At the least traveled intersection at Route 124 and Kahn Road, RBA predicts an increase between 10 and 15 trips.
Some residents asked how the traffic impacts compare to now. Meth said that in the latest traffic study, it was found that about 400 vehicles go in and out of Honeywell per hour during peak hours, which has been declining over time. In 2007 it was about 700 vehicles, and in 2000 it was about 1,100.
The traffic is also based off other nearby development projects that are taking place in the future, for example at Giralda Farms in Madison and by the BASF building in Florham Park.
While not all comments and concerns from the public were able to be addressed, the next hearing on Sept. 19—which is a regular township committee meeting—will pick up from where it left off.
Another hearing date was also set for Thursday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m at the Morris Township Municipal Building.