Honeywell Hearings Continue, Vote May Come Soon

All experts will attend Monday's meeting as public continues to provide input on zoning ordinance.

As the public hearings on the ordinance for Honeywell to redevelop its property for mixed-use move into October, the township committee could vote on the plan as soon as the next hearing on Monday.

The fifth hearing that will begin at 7 p.m. Monday at the Morris Township Municipal Building will continue with more public input and questions about the proposed ordinance to allow the Fortune 100 company add townhomes and office and lab space on its 147-acre site.

Mayor Peter Mancuso said that while it is possible for the township committee to vote this week, nothing will be certain until more input is heard from experts and residents.

"It just all depends on what our experts have to say, if they have more commentary," he said. "It's just a thought process as to where we are and when we get there, whether we get there on Monday, or Wednesday, or at another time, I don't know."

The fiscal, traffic and environmental experts will all be present Monday night to answer any more of the public's questions.

Throughout the course of September's hearings, financial expert David Evans, a certified accountant from the township's firm, Nisivoccia, presented his analysis of the fiscal impacts if Honeywell were to build out its headquarters. The full analyses from both Honeywell and Nisivoccia are posted on the Morris Township website.

Environmental expert Marie Raser, hired by the township from the Rockaway-based environmental consulting firm EcolSciences, and traffic engineer Gordon Meth from the RBA Group presented their findings as well.

Residents attending the hearings have brought up concerns including keeping the Great Lawn in front of the company's property at the intersection of Columbia and Park Avenue, the contaminated ground water on the campus, which Raser said is controlled by a well that prevents it from moving off the property, and increased traffic in the area.

Members of the Citizens for Better Planning in Morris Township still feel more time is needed before the plan is voted on, and released a statement last month urging more residents to attend the hearings.

Township land use planner Paul Phillips, a member of the township's Technical Coordinating Committee who helped draft the zoning ordinance will also be at Monday night's hearing. Phillips spoke at the Sept. 19 hearing, where he gave an overview of the plan.

Mancuso said he isn't sure if the CBPMT's planner will be at the hearing, who spoke at the latest hearing last week and raised concerns about the proposal including building a quiet zone at the railroad crossing, building the townhouses on the Great Lawn, and the financial projections.

The ordinance that is currently before the township committee follows more than two years of deliberations concerning the redvelopment of the company's property.

These hearings began once the planning board approved the master plan amendment in June, and when the township committee introduced the proposed ordinance in July.

There have been several delays from the time the ordinance was introduced in July until the first hearing in September due to several conflicts of interests raised about two committee members.

Committeeman Jeff Grayzel and Deputy Mayor Bruce Sisler recused themselves because of these potential conflicts, but have since been reinstated in the process.

Once the ordinance is approved, Honeywell can move along with its plans to add in 235 townhouses and 900,000 square feet of office and lab space that is explained in the master plan amendment.

Zoning changes to the $38 billion company's property would create several hundred new jobs and keep the 1,200 jobs on the site. The company said its property is currently underutilized.

The Morris Township-based global technology company recently received a $40 million grant under Grow-NJ to keep its headquarters in the state.

Once more residents and experts are heard on Monday for the proposed changes to the company's global headquarters, Mancuso said the conclusion to the ordinance will hopefully be sometime soon.

"Hopefully we'll get there within a reasonable period of time after having heard everyone speak," he said.

Rob Burke October 01, 2012 at 09:23 AM
and never mind those pesky ethics complaints...
Tom Luby October 01, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Correction: The ordinance would not ADD 900,000 square feet of office space to the site. Under the ordinance, the total amount of office space that would be permitted would be limited to 900,000, which is over 500,000 square feet less than the amount of office space that is allowed at the site currently.
Lee Goldberg October 01, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Tom, Thanks for clarification. A big concern that I have is that the residential units that are planned will be built out prior to Honeywell renovating their office space, then Honeywell will leave. Would you think it reasonable to at least get a concession from Honeywell to renovate their office space at the same time or prior to the residential units being developed, thus actually demonstrating their commitment? Thoughts?
Rob Burke October 02, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Even Lauren Mennen knows the obvious, in Buccoville big corporate America can get whatever welfare they want, as long as their political donations keep coming: "Once the ordinance is approved, Honeywell can move along with its plans to add in 235 townhouses and 900,000 square feet of office and lab space that is explained in the master plan amendment."
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