Clifton-based developers M&M Realty Partners had come in with plans for hundreds of apartments, condominiums and townhouses plus approximately 100,000 square feet of retail space.
“M&M came in with a concept plan of 505 housing units,” Morris Plains Mayor Frank Druetzler said. “And there have been no approvals. Just their plan.”
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 suit hasn’t really gone anywhere,” Druetzler said. “They want 800 units, but we feel we meet the affordable housing requirement.”
Speaking earlier this month at the borough's reorganization meeting, Druetzler said that they have their own plan on the table for the property.
Druetzler said that with Honeywell moving their headquarters into the borough, there is an opportunity for coordinated development and a synergy between the two sites.
“We’d like to see a hotel there. Honeywell has many national and international visitors to their headquarters,” Druetzler said.
Drueztler said Honeywell visitors could bring upwards to 12,000 visitors to town a year using a hotel, but thus far M&M has not agreed.
"We've received no response to our proposal," Druetzler said.
This is the latest round of difficulty for the borough and developer. Last 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.
The governing body in Morris Plains appears to have reservations that echo Albin’s as Druetzler said the council wasn’t sold on the idea of 500 housing units and in a statement referred to the 500 unit plan as “too large and intrusive on our community.”
Druetzler said he hoped the suit would resolve sooner rather than later so the next steps could be planned.