Residents part of the Citizens for Better Planning in Morris Township, the township's group of concerned residents who provide input to the development in Morris Township, oppose the that approved the master plan amendment to develeop property located at 101 Columbia Turnpike.
The CCPMT released a statement on Monday, saying that they are disappointed in the planning board's unanimous vote because the redevelopment does not address many of community concerns. They say the "vote was taken despite intense community protest and highly skeptical comments from the public over a period of 2 years."
The group claims the planning board hasn't taken into account the documented concerns about traffic, environment, safety and fiscal impacts from a large number of citizens in the community. They say that although the planning board has taken some steps in changing the plan regarding the residents' concerns, the approval of the master plan leaves many of these problems unresolved.
Honeywell International released a statement that showed its satisfaction with the amendment and how they believe it would benefit the township, but the citizens listed out a number of issues that they believe would require "astute resolution" in order for citzens to beneift from the changes.
The issues they believe are unresolved are:
Open Space Issues: Citizens say that no guarantee of open space in the current amendment is one of the top concerns that residents have expressed. They say that "the opportunity to seek guarantees of open space and recreational space in exchange for the concessions granted to Honeywell for increased office building height, increased building density (FAR), and the new type of development is missing from the amendment."
Destruction of the Viewshed: Citizens say that there have been no studies done to justify the amendment’s 200-foot setback along Columbia Road and the result of the removal of some of the trees. They believe that the township council should have Honeywell mark the 200-foot setback so that elected officials and the public can see just what it would look like and see the impact it would have on the overall image.
Fiscal Impact of the Redevelopment Plan: The citizens claim that there hasn't been a study of the fiscal impact of the rezoning on Honeywell's Property. They ask, "what ratio of residential to nonresidential development will minimize the fiscal impact of new development? What will be the impact of increases in student population? What is the potential for the cost of Low and Moderate housing requirements falling on Township residents?"
Traffic Issues: The residents also claim that there isn't a resolution proposed for the increase in traffic, and say it is a major concern of residents "already burdened with long waits and congestion at the surrounding intersections." They ask, "what intersection improvements are needed to accommodate the additional traffic that will be generated? Who will pay for the traffic improvements? What is the potential for the high cost of highway improvements being added to the County’s portion of property taxes, given the amendment’s “as of right/fair share" protections for Honeywell/developer from the cost of paying for these?
Environmental Issues: This is the last issue that the citizens wrote about, and they said there is no accounting in the amendment for the environmental issues raised. They said that a study of endangered species and a study of the presence of pesticides on the site needs to be done.
The CCPMT says that while the planning board has initiated to start drafting changes to the zoning ordinance, they're unsure of how a zoning amendment can be done without considering these key issues.
They say that the committee members are the only people allowed to change the zoning ordinance, and they are allowed to disagree with the recommendations of the planning board and Honeywell. They say the township committee could decline to rezone or craft a zoning amendment that places the needs of the community in balance.