Area residents told the Morris Township Planning Board Monday they don't want to see more traffic on Park Avenue, Columbia Road and in the Normandy Heights section of the township because of Honeywell's plans to redevelop its corporate campus.
Traffic was dominant amoung several converns raised by residents of Morris Township and neighboring towns, as the board considered a master plan ammendment that would make the redevelopment possible. According to the company's own description of the project, it would take an underdeveloped property and make it a "mixed-use site that may include office facilities, residential units, and open green space. A learning center, childcare center, and cafeteria will remain on the site for Honeywell employees. A gym will be available for Honeywell employees and mixed-site campus residents and employees."
Susan McHugh, who lives in Florham Park across the street from Morris Township, said she is concerned with “all aspects” of the plan: traffic, air and noise pollution, and a possible decrease in property values. She also said two of her neighbors were approached by a developer not related to Honeywell and asked if they would be willing to sell their land for a hotel. Honeywell has dropped a proposed hotel from its plans for the headquarters property.
Several said intersections near the Honeywell property have already received failing grades from the state. And trying to correct intersections under Morris County jurisdiction, other intersections under state jurisdiction and roads in three municipalities—and rhwn to apportion costs fairly—would be “an underfunded bureaucratic clusterfumble,” resident Daniel Hayes told the board.
While no one disputed Hayes’ contention, some people spoke in favor of the master plan amendment, for which Honeywell would tear down unused laboratory buildings and construct townhouses and possibly a continuing care facility.
Michael Austin, who is a contractor for Honeywell Aviation at Morristown Airport, said employees and contractors for Honeywell pub a good deal of money into the local economy. He said his company spends close to $100,000 per year with local vendors, and there are many others like it.
Richard Burdette said if the 121 acre tract was pristine, it should stay that way, but it isn’t, and he said Honeywell had a good plan for redevelopment.
Peter O'Hagen told the board “open space doesn’t pay for anything,” He said the area needs an assisted living community and slammed the “NIMBYs [people who say 'Not In My Backyard] and National Park Service]” for thwarting a proposal at St. Mary’s Abby. “They [Honeywell] aren’t asking for carte blanche, they just want one change,” he said. An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the remarks were made by Lee Goldberg, and incorrectly referred to Goldberg as a former planning board member.
The Morris County Economic Development Corporation also supports the master plan amendment, new director Rebecca Feldman said.
In contrast, Rabbi Amy Small urged the planning board, “Don’t separate yourselves from the community.”
Jim O’Reilly asked if the board was looking at the financial projections of Honeywell. Board Chairman Rick Haan said the planning board can only get into financial matters so far, but the township committee—which would need to change township zoning for Honeywell's plan to go through—will.
The planning board will continue to hear the public at a special meeting on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. The master plan amendment will be the only item on the agenda.