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.”
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.
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 that with Honeywell moving their headquarters into the borough, there is an opportunity for coordinated development.
“We’d like to see a hotel there. Honeywell has many national and international visitors to their headquarters. They use near 12,000 rooms a year,” Druetzler said. “I think there would be good synergy there between the two sites.”
Druetzler said he hoped the suit would resolve sooner rather than later so the next steps could be planned.
The demolition is tentatively scheduled to end this December.