To the Editor:
The Morris Township Committee recently passed an ordinance that would allow Honeywell Corp. to use part of its property for townhouse development. There was an exhaustive and thoughtful public review process for this proposal at the Planning Board level, which voted unanimously to recommend mixed use on this property.
We want to share with you our thoughts about the Honeywell plan and our reasons for supporting it as members of the Morris Township Committee.
Honeywell is the largest taxpayer in Morris Township and an employer of over 1,000 people. Its economic impact on the Township and region, however, is extensive, and the number of people whose livelihoods depend upon Honeywell includes hundreds, if not thousands more.
When the Honeywell proposal was first presented it included a hotel, a senior living community and residential townhouse components. As testimony from the public and from planning, environmentaland traffic experts was considered, the hotel and senior living features of the proposal were dropped, and the remaining residential development was reduced in size to make sure that it would be a net positive for Morris Township and all of its residents. Also as a result of public input, setbacks were increased—in particular along Columbia Road.
One of the benefits of the approved Honeywell plan is the reduction of office/laboratory development that will be allowed on the site. The reduction of over 500,000 square feet of space is a significant boost to our efforts to control the intensity of development. This feature of the Honeywell plan was in direct response to those residents who expressed concern about the traffic conditions near the Honeywell site. Through the efforts of Mayor Mancuso, we have also received strong assurances from the State DOT that additional funding will be available to implement traffic management improvements in the immediate Honeywell vicinity, and preliminary engineering activity is already underway.
Another beneficial component of the ordinance is the creation of a Quiet Zone, which is expected to reduce train horn noise by two thirds! This will result in a significant improvement in the quality of life for all of eastern Morris Township once it is approved and installed.
Another benefit to the Township is an open space component that can be used for athletic fields and for a new community center. Economic benefits for the Township include over $1 million of permit fees during the development process, as well as increased ratables related to the new residential units and the new facilities to be constructed by Honeywell. A thorough economic impact analysis shows that the Honeywell development plan will provide a substantial contribution to the Township's revenue after all associated costs are accounted for.
We have been very fortunate to have Honeywell as a corporate neighbor. As we have seen in recent years, even the largest of companies are not immune to competitive pressures, and some of them have been forced to make drastic changes to ensure their survival. Lucent Technologies abandoned its facility in Hanover Township; Roche, which once employed 10,000 people in Nutley, is closing that facility; BASF vacated one million square feet of office space in Mt. Olive for a much smaller space in Florham Park; and Merck recently announced that it is leaving its global headquarters in Readington Township to consolidate its operations in Summit. All of these moves have caused painful consequences for the towns that used to be their homes. We do not want Morris Township to join this unhappy list.
We believe that the Honeywell development plan is a balanced land use solution for both the company and our community. The preservation of jobs at Honeywell and the company's expected capital investment in the property will continue to benefit Morris Township for years to come.
As members of the Morris Township Committee, we have always had a long term perspective about what is best for the Township and all of our residents. We are eager to continue our work on your behalf. your behalf. We respectfully request your support on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Morris Township Committee