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Honeywell Chemicals Contained, Expert Says

Contaminated ground water one of main concerns of company's property, traffic issues also discussed at second public hearing.

The next phase of the redevelopment process continued Wednesday night with input from experts about the environmental and traffic impacts if the company were to build out its property for mixed-use.

The experts presented their analyses to the planning board back in December, but this was the first time they went before the township committee and it followed with public comment.

The meeting—which was the second public hearing after —started with the environmental impacts with a presentation by Marie Raser, a consultant for the independent environmental consulting firm EcolSciences.

One of the main areas of concern on the company's 147-acre property, Raser said, is the contaminated ground water on the campus that contains carbon tetrachloride. The chemical's presence was discovered in 1976, but its source is still unknown. Other detected contaminants are trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, which were found though monitoring wells drilled in the site.

Although contaminants have been present, Raser said they are controlled by a well and will not move off Honeywell's property.

"Right now the ground water flows across the property, and there is a well that is being pumped continually that keeps the water from exiting the site," she said. "All the contamination stays on the site, and it decreases somewhat over time."

Other environmental problems are from pesticides that were detected in the soils in the office part of the site.

Raser said these soils are "still being investigated and remediated, and they will meet residential standards before any residential development is pursued."

Questions were raised by Mayor Peter Mancuso if there would be contamination in the 14-acre open space area, and also in drinking water.

Raiser explained that the contamination would not impact the open space because it is in the back of the property, and the drinking water would not have an effect either because it is not supplied by the ground water.

Raser said Honeywell is responsible for testing the ground water on a regular basis and reporting to the DEP on the status, because it is considered a Classification Exception Area.

The report, which is posted on the Morris Township website under the Master Plan Amendment, states that adding in the town homes and office and lab space is "appropriate" for the environmental use.

Traffic Concerns Addressed

Gordon Meth, an engineer from RBA, presented the firm's traffic analysis on Wednesday night as well.

Meth said that while any development in that area would increase traffic, his report laid out two scenarios--one that would occur if Honeywell fully developed its property and used its 1.4 million square feet completely for just office and lab space under its current zoning, and the other scenario--the proposed redevelopment plan--that would add in 235 townhomes and about 900,000 square feet of office and lab space.

According to Meth, the first scenario would result in an increase in traffic in comparision to the proposed plan.

If Honeywell was able to go through with the proposed plan, traffic at peak morning peak hours--from about 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.--and evening peak hours--from about 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.--would decrease about 25 percent.

The analysis also examined the traffic changes that would occur at four of the busiest intersections. With the busiest intersection at Columbia Turnpike and Park Avenue, the firm predicts a net increase between 76 and 100 trips in both the morning and evening peak hours.

At the least traveled intersection at Route 124 and Kahn Road, RBA predicts an increase between 10 and 15 trips.

Some residents asked how the traffic impacts compare to now. Meth said that in the latest traffic study, it was found that about 400 vehicles go in and out of Honeywell per hour during peak hours, which has been declining over time. In 2007 it was about 700 vehicles, and in 2000 it was about 1,100.

The traffic is also based off other nearby development projects that are taking place in the future, for example at Giralda Farms in Madison and by the BASF building in Florham Park.

While not all comments and concerns from the public were able to be addressed, the next hearing on Sept. 19—which is a regular township committee meeting—will pick up from where it left off.

Another hearing date was also set for Thursday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m at the .

Rob Burke September 13, 2012 at 10:47 AM
Town Attorney Mills made it clear last night that this rezoning would be approved come hell or high water. Rather than allow the Town's Ethics Committee the opportunity to investigate multiple pending ethics complaints against a sitting Committeeman, Mills gladly substituted his uninformed judgment, with no investigation whatsoever. Ethics, shmethics, I guess. Mills was unable to cite a case or any other law that allows a Committeeman to sit in judgment despite his actual conflict of interest. I asked him why the Middletown case doesn't apply and said it contradicts his advice. He said his "research is all over the place, and he will write a memo." Sisler running mate Rosenbush attempted to build a record to protect this bizarre situation, by asking Mills if his advice would change when he writes the memo! The problem is that the Town Attorney hasn't even rendered formal written advice for the Committee to review, query, consider, deliberate and act on. He just said, well, the Ethics Chair is out of town and the show must go on. And in one fell swoop, dispensed with the entire notion of independent ethics committee review of pending ethics complaints directly related to the matter at hand. No wonder the ethics committee has never convened in the history of the township. The bad guys won't ever allow that to happen. At least The Buccos will be pleased. Until the lawsuit that overturns the Committee's approval of the rezoning.
Chris Jansen September 13, 2012 at 01:51 PM
I hope Honeywell is telling the truth about the toxic chemicals not moving into the rest of the townships groundwater.
Rob Burke September 13, 2012 at 03:06 PM
The truth is in the eye of the landholder....
Nick Tafuri September 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM
The township has been considering the Honeywell proposal for a staggering two years! Various committees and not a few hired guns have had ample opportunity to examine the proposal ad nauseum including "experts" who have lacked either the temerity or the punctuality to attend town council meetings. There are no "bad guys" here. There are, however, about 1200 local jobs at stake when Honeywell tires of the incessant bandying and makes good on its alternate proposal to pull up stakes and flee to the friendlier confines of Pennsylvania. The attempted hijacking of meetings with an utter disregard for rules of order may play well to the press and the under-informed, but in the end it belies the obvious: there are those among us who long to be oppositional regardless of the facts. These same individuals will howl from the rooftops that something must be done to provide our residents with jobs, yet will drive a thriving corporation from the township because it has had the audacity to request an opportunity to expand facilities on land it already occupies.
Rob Burke September 13, 2012 at 11:07 PM
@Nick: the problem you don't acknowledge is that the Committee is breaking the law by allowing Sisler to participate in these proceedings. Mills was unable to cite a single case that permits him to put the conflict ridden Committeeman back on the dais. He hasn't even provided a memorandum of law on the issue to the Town Committee - because he'd have to make up cases that don't exist to overturn existing law that rejects every argument he's attempted to make. In my book, that's dishonest, disingenuous and wrong. And the perpetrators - including Mills, Sisler, Caffrey & Mancuso - are, accordingly, bad guys. I agree, Honeywell should be allowed to use its property. But the Town Committee's obligations are to we the people, not to Honeywell. And they are shirking that fiduciary obligation by their noncomiance with bathe rule of law. Their presumed approval of this ordinance will be overturned in court.
Rob Burke September 13, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Have you seen the report from the NJEDA about Honeywell and the GROWNJ money? NJEDA has decided to overlook Honeywell's recent plea agreement in a criminal case - $12 million fine and 5 years probation for knowingly storing more than 7000 drums of nuclear hazardous waste on site, illegally. The jobs that Nick stressed in his comment above are more important than 7000 drums of nuclear waste stashed on the side of a building....
Nick Tafuri September 13, 2012 at 11:36 PM
The trail of impropriety that you suggest is convoluted at best. Based on your assumption of collusion, Sisler is disregarding state law in an attempt to appease his employer who advanced legislation to help strengthen the business climate of our state, thereby benefiting all corporate interests, not merely Honeywell's. Sisler is not conflicted and Mills stated that he will issue a written opinion by next week. We the people are being ably represented in this issue; the preservation of Honeywell is, as you agree, of vital importance to the township. Are we to allow this expansion to be bogged down by these specious arguments?
Rob Burke September 13, 2012 at 11:42 PM
@nick: you're entitled to your own opinion, but you cannot have your own facts. Mills explicitly concluded that Sisler has an appearance of impropriety that mandated referral to the ethics committee. Then, Sisler recused himself and thereby skirted ethics committee review. Then, Mills wrongfully invoked the doctrine of necessity to reinstall sisler on the Town Committee for purposes of his ordinance proceeding, in contravention to an Appellate Division decision in the Middletown case. Not convoluted at all. Easy to follow, and completely inappropriate. If the Town Committee proceedings were to comply with the law, I would have no problem with whatever decision they ultimately come to. I also agree that jobs are important, though that's not a land use issue. Regardless, jobs are still important. But so iis good government. The process matters and frankly, I believe that the Township could cut a better deal with Honeywell that Honeywell would accept and would be advantageous to the Township residents.
Nick Tafuri September 13, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Rob, you agreed with my earlier position that Honeywell should be allowed to use the site! You're either interested in debating the issue dispassionately or you're not. However, your playing of both sides of the street reveals a murkier intent: you, sir are a deliberate gadfly. When Honeywell leaves, you'll blame them for leaving and if they remain, you'll decry the fact that they were permitted to remain. This requires absolutely no thought or personal commitment on your part.
Rob Burke September 13, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Nick, the two positions are completely consistent. First, town officials must be required to comply with the law. And they aren't. They could do a better job for us if the protections the law affords us were actually complied with. That doesn't mean that I advocate an outright rejection of their proposal. I don't and never have. I do believe that office and residential should be required to be built simultaneously so we don't get stuck with negative ratables and the positive ratables never come. I do believe that the fair share calculation the Committee is buying into is wrong, and Honeywell will be offloading way to much offsite road improvements on us taxpayers. I also believe that the viewshed can be better protected and that the cleanup should be a prerequisite to groundbreaking. And if the Committee followed the law regarding process, maybe we'd get some of that.
Michael Waldron September 14, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Ron a couple of thngs. First, there is no impropriety with the township officials. It sounds desperate that you would impune people who on both sides of the aisle contribute a lot more to the township than you do. Run for office if you like. Don't make up stuff about good people for your short term goals. These are your neighbors. Two, Honeywell is responsible for the cleanup and is doing what the state is requiring. NJ has the most Superfund sites in the nation because in the past, these things were misunderstood and unmonitored. That is not the case now and going forward. Three. Tell the people of Morristown and Morristownship your plan for replacing the lost rateables when Honneywell loses its patience and moves out. What your NIMBY attitude is showing is shortsightedness. Four. Things change. You are upset because it may change in your neighborhood. The only thing you should plan for is change, not the status quo. There are people on the other side of town who deal with traffic as well. Its a mess in the morning and at night. Changes to the use of the property will not make that different. If we lose Honeywell as a corporate tenant your commute wont change, your tax bill will.
Rob Burke September 14, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Hey Michael, thanks for your post. I'm glad to engage with you on issues. 1 -- Yes, there is impropriety. Sisler has an actual conflict of interest, Mills acknowledged it and did an end run around the Ethics Committee. I won't rehash this same point over and over, but Mills hasn't even rendered formal legal advice to his client, the Town Committee, on this matter nor could he cite any authority for his decision to reinstate Sisler to the Town Committee notwithstanding his actual conflict of interest. 2 -- Then let's condition the development of the property on the land being cleaned up. 3 -- I'm not against redevlopment of this parcel or changing the Master Plan. This isn't an all or nothing discussion. My plan is to (1) require ratables (commercial uses) to be built simultaneously with negative ratables (residential). That way, we can't get stuck with town houses that cost a bunch of money followed by no construction of commercial that make us money. (2) Require Honeywell to pay a much more appropriate Fair Share of the offsite impact of the redevelopment -- in particular, the calculation for their share of road work is skewed to the extreme in their favor. They should bear a higher burden, not me or you. (3) the land should be safe to build on and to occupy. Right now, its not. Its contaminated. (4) I don't have to run for office to have a voice in my government. My officials should represent the residents, not Honeywell.
PositiveinMT September 14, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Tilting at windmills again...involvement in civic life is great, but let's be honest with each other. In their review of this Proposal, the Township Officials are representing the Township community. Everyone - residents and business owners create the Township community. Let's not forget that many of our neighbors are employed by Honeywell and other businesses that are located within our community. At best, it is disingenuous to suggest that the Township Committee is not representing the residents. At worst, it is an out-and-out lie. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Committeeman Sisler is conflicted. None. These fallacious and inappropriate charges are a thinly veiled partisan attempt to stop the Honeywell Redevelopment Proposal hearings. If there is evidence, bring it forward and file a suit - if not, stop with the lies. Hack lawyers spend their entire "careers" threatening litigation in an effort to beat people into submission. We don't need lawyers in this instance; we need some common sense. Those that have read the Redevelopment Proposal know that there are conditions in place for the corporation to clean-up any contamination prior to construction and to ensure that any land that is utilized meets all standards for safe use. Further, on-going monitoring is required to ensure that any potential issues are identified and re-mediated immediately. In short - a condition of development is the land being cleaned up.
Rob Burke September 14, 2012 at 03:26 PM
@positively honeywell consultant: If you want to be credible, you might consider disclosing that you are on the Honeywell payroll. Behind the anonymity of your keyboard, you've called me a liar. But you haven't cited anything I've said that isn't true. You may not like what I've said, but I've only told the truth. Please post one thing that you claim is a lie that I have published. Sisler has an actual conflict of interest. Don't take my word for it, look at the memo that Mills sent out a couple of weeks ago. Insofar as your invitation for the filing of a lawsuit is concerned, its premature. The lawsuit would be an Action in Lieu of Prerogative Writ, and it would be ripe upon the Town Committee's adoption of the ordinance. As far as common sense is concerned, you're absolutely right. Common sense suggests that we are protected from the possibility that Honeywell builds townhouses but never builds office space. Why would it be controversial to require both be built together in phases, particularly since they say that's what they are going to do anyway? You can call me a hack all you want, but to me, failure to protect against 235 townhouses that will burden our schools, services and taxes without guaranteeing that the profitable development occurs is reckless. And how about they pay a reasonable fair share calculation of the off site road costs, rather than the minimum that was calculated by a consultant who is advising the Town Committee?
Kerwin Fuffle September 14, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Mr. Burke, It has come to my attention that you got a little "hot under the collar" at last night's meeting. I believe that you should do some soul searching and consider an apology to the committee and the community as a whole. Bring on your lawsuits and we shall see who is "conflicted and reckless". Kerwin
Rob Burke September 14, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Listen, Bruce, I hate to break it to you. Six folks whom I have never met before went out of their way to thank me for calling out Mills and the Committee for their u7nethical behavior. The only apology that anyone needs is from Sisler, Mills, Mancuso, Rosenbush & Caffrey.
Rob Burke September 14, 2012 at 11:06 PM
PS -- You might want to research what happened the last time someone dared me to "bring it on...."
bill wolfe September 16, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Residents should understand what a "Classification Exception Area" (CEA) is. The spin in this sorry makes it appear that that is a good thing, e.g. monitoring and reporting to DEP. But a CEA is bad thing - it maps the area/volume of groundwater than is polluted and it essentially waives compliance with the groundwater quality standards. Those standards do no apply in an area mapped a CEA - the polluter is not required to cleanup but is allowed to let pollution merely dilute and degrade over long period s of time ~~ 30-50 years!
bill wolfe September 16, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Residents should not have two reply on Honeywell's honesty. Are there wells in town or nearby that supply water? Have they been sampled? What do the data say?
bill wolfe September 16, 2012 at 04:05 PM
The EcolSciences firm is described as an "independent consulting form". Who is paying them? Do they work for Honeywell or the Township? If they work for Honeywell, who has major financial and legal liability interests at stake, it is high misleading to call them "independent".

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