The Clifton-based developers are removing building 170 and 182 from the old Pfizer building site to make way for hundreds of apartments, condominiums and townhouses plus approximately 100,000 square feet of retail space.
The process to take down the buildings was slowed by the presence of asbestos. The initial contractors who were removing the asbestos had to be pulled from the project because of "fines levied by the NJ Department of Labor for violations during asbestos abatement," the developer of the site wrote in a letter to the state. A new contractor took over and the work is continuing, the developer and state officials said.
Asbestos work can only be performed by state-licensed contractors. Even small amounts of asbestos, which was a common construction material until it was found to be a health hazard, "can cause serious illness and death years after exposure," according to the New Jersey Department of Health. Pyramid Contracting Corporation took over the asbestos removal work.
The exact number of housing units to be built on the 63-acre site is the subject of litigation. M&M, a venture of Edgewood Properties and JMP Holdings, is suing Morris Plains to be able to build 800 housing units, with 295 units for low- or moderate-income residents, which it says will help the borough comply with the Fair Housing Act. The borough said plans originally called for 500 housing units
Back in February, Morris Plains rejected a request from M&M to declare the work a "redevelopment project" and give the developer 20 years of tax relief equal to the school portion of the tax bill.
Before that, Alan Albin, who at the time was the Morris Plains representative on the Morris School District Board of Education, noted the plan holds the potential to increase the borough's population by 25 percent.