Township Did its Job Regarding Honeywell, Committeeman Says
Daniel Caffrey responds to recent 'Letter to the Editor' submitted by fellow Morris Township committeeman, Jeff Grayzel.
To the Editor:
I recently read Morris Township Committeeman Jeff Grayzel’s Letter to the Editor regarding the “Honeywell Vote.” It is unfortunate that Mr. Grayzel uses terms like “rigged” and alleges that “politics won” in his description to the community on such an important issue. And these terms say more about the individual who writes them than about the community in which he lives.
The Morris Township Committee has been following the Honeywell redevelopment proposal for more than two years. It is unquestionably the biggest issue the Township had to confront in decades. We watched the process during the planning board debates; we toured the Honeywell property to learn about the changes that are being planned; and we always hear from our neighbors about their concerns and suggestions for changes. There was plenty of time and analysis to review the issues—all the issues—and to come to a decision.
The evaluation made by the Township Committee included all possible issues that could impact the community: traffic, environmental, financial, open space, quiet zones for trains, need for a hotel, size and number of townhouses, etc. Every possible issue was discussed in open meetings throughout this process, but there was a small group of individuals who did not want the process to stop. That is when those in the majority must govern and lead.
Mr. Grayzel asserts that “Honeywell got whatever they wanted”—but nothing could be further from the truth. Honeywell originally approached Morris Township seeking over 400 condos, but only 235 were allowed; they asked for 300 retirement units, none were allowed; a large hotel was also part of the original proposal, but none was allowed; and 100 foot set backs were requested, but 200 foot setbacks were required. In addition, Honeywell's new proposal now includes an offer to donate 14 acres of their 147 acre tract to Morris Township with a building that will house a new senior citizens/family recreation center, and land on which the township can build new athletic fields.
The public should know that while we were considering the Honeywell proposal, Hanover Township asked Honeywell to consider moving their headquarters there. Morris Plains offered Honeywell an attractive option if the company would move there. Other states were calling on Honeywell to see if they would move out of New Jersey. At the urging of Governor Christie, New Jersey proposed significant financial incentives to keep this Fortune 500 Company here. The only public entity that didn’t voice its interest during this two-year period was Morris Township.
Morris Township needed to weigh in and put all of the other discussions to rest. We did and it is unfortunate that it happened at 1:30 a.m., but the meeting, which began at 7 p.m., involved a great deal of vigorous discussion, much of which was from allies of Mr.Grayzel, and we made it a priority to give everyone the opportunity to comment. The public part of the debate was finally closed and the Township Committee took its vote.
Mr. Grayzel complains about the hour of the recent public meeting. If he had doneeven the minimum amount of due diligence and read the information provided tohim in advance of the meeting he would not have taken up two hours of this meetingwith questions for which he already had most of the answers already in front of him.Unfortunately he has come unprepared to meetings so often that we and the public havecome to expect this from Jeff.
With this decision by the Committee, Morris Township can now plan its future and carefully manage its resources because we can now be certain of our future ratables. All any of us has to do is look at Readington Township, which just lost Merck’s corporate headquarters. That should make us realize what it means to lose a major corporate taxpayer in the community. We want and need Honeywell to stay in our neighborhood. By this vote, the Morris Township Committee did just that.
Mr. Grayzel mentions “politics” and “ethical” concerns, yet it is he who had to recuse himself due to a conflict of interest, and it is he who wrote a politically charged letter just before the election. Had Mr. Grayzel's conflict remained undisclosed, the Township could have faced significant legal liability. Mr. Grayzel mentions the process has been rushed, yet he fails to mention that the process had taken over two years and included detailed analysis by lawyers, engineers, traffic and financial experts. He had months for his thoughts to be considered, if he really wanted the jobs and economic benefits of Honeywell to remain in Morris Township.
Mr. Grayzel's questions about the ethics of others is another example of a self-serving double standard that ignores his own behavior. But Morris Township voters need to know that Mr. Grayzel and his former Democratic colleague—who once again is running for office—are both firmly on an anti-Honeywell platform. Mr. Grayzel’s vote, and his words, are now on the record and they will haunt him in the future. Morris Township is one of the best managed communities in the state of New Jersey. The pride we have for the Township is based on the fact that we solve our problems and we plan exceptionally well for our future. Honeywell is part of our future and I am happy to have them here.
—Daniel W. Caffrey
Morris Township Committee