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Residents Oppose Honeywell Master Plan Approval

Concerned residents about the redevelopment of the Honeywell Property released a statement on Monday, just four days after the master plan amendment was approved.

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.

Ron Brandt June 13, 2012 at 01:24 PM
How many of these residents owned their property before Honeywell (Allied) was there? This reminds me of residents in Howard Beach, Queens complaining abouot jet noise from JFK airport. That neighborhood was built, and houses were bought, after the airport was developed.
Warren Bobrow June 14, 2012 at 01:37 PM
With all due respect Mr. Brandt, what is your interest in this matter? We don't live in Howard Beach. I've been a resident of Morris Township for over fifty years.
Teddi Connor June 15, 2012 at 12:32 AM
I am in favor of the Honeywell redevelopment. Viewshed on Columbia Turnpike? Not that important to me. Traffic increase, yes there will probably be some but it is concentrated in the northeast corner of the Township. The Exxon / Jets redevelopment across the street on Park Avenue and Columbia Road in Florham Park has resulted in a widening of Park Avenue and 1 traffic light. Let's give the professional engineers and town planners some credit for doing the right thing in light of progressive redevelopment.
Todd Pierro June 15, 2012 at 01:50 AM
"Progressive redevelopment?" What a joke! how does high density condo's and a CCRC surrounded by residential neighborhoods equal progressive? Mr. Connor, I'm guessing you live no where near the northeast corner of the township, so the increased traffic, noise, and degradation of the scenery from this proposed project has little impact on you. But what do you or other township residents gain? Is the marginal increase in property taxes going to offset the increased burden on schools and other public services? You are fooling yourself if you think it will
Connect the Dots!! June 15, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Teddi & Todd....lets play Morris Township Town Hall connect the dots. Ready? If I'm not mistaken Teddi Conner either currently works for or has worked for Morris Twp in the Office of the Township Engineer. Mr. Slate, whose photo appears in the story, is the current Twp. Engineer and has a professional relationship with Teddi Connor. "Let's give the professional engineers and town planners some credit for doing the right thing" you mean as in "credit" and "right thing" accomplished in the Wheatsheaf and Brownstones by Convent Station developments. Real successful implementations and brilliant planning! Today there was non moving traffic from the intersection of Columbia and Park all the way down Park to Punchbowl. The widening project and new traffic signal at Danforth have virtually no impact on the current traffic conditions on Park. If for some reason I am incorrect about Teddi Connor working for the Twp either currently or in the past please let me know so I can issue a public apology. If not, geez is it performance review time down at Town Hall?
Katherine Rodgers June 15, 2012 at 03:59 AM
I have heard rumors that there are toxic deposits on the Honeywell property dating back to the Allied Chemical days. How can one justify building condos on land potentially hazardous to the health of the inhabitants?
Leslie Jones-Wentz June 15, 2012 at 10:28 PM
This is very sad and really demonstrates that this particular board is not voting in the best interest of the township residents. After countless meetings where so many issues and concerns were raised and left unanswered by the board, they still voted in support of Honeywell just as they have voted in favor of developers. When will the over-development of our township stop when it is too late and no one wants to live here anymore?
Steve Lipsky June 16, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Morris Township’s Honeywell hearings were a sham. The planning board decided, early in the process, to not consider fiscal issues and disallowed public comment. Therefore, the process became, does the board allow Honeywell their requested zoning and trample the rights and degrade lifestyle in the area near Honeywell or reject Honeywell and chance losing them? Sub-issues such as traffic and environment were also discussed. The board then debated, focusing on underutilization, meaning “can we squeeze more ratables from Honeywell’s property.” That’s a fiscal issue, which the public was not allowed to address and didn't include any discussion of additional expenses this would generate. Fiscal issues hadn’t been addressed since Honeywell’s original submission, which has been largely changed and contained provable inaccuracies. Thus, they approved Honeywell’s request despite no public discussion on underutilization, the basis for their final approval. More importantly, they never considered neighbor’s rights. Ron, here is where your Howard Beach analogy fails. Before approval, I had the right to not have townhouses behind my home, Honeywell didn’t have the right to build them. After board approval, Honeywell can build townhouses 75 feet from their property line, directly behind my home. This Planning Board’s action, trampling homeowner’s rights to raise additional revenue, should concern every Morris Township resident. Steve Lipsky Morris Township
Andrew Kayser June 17, 2012 at 02:55 PM
I was present at the June 7 Planing Board meeting where they voted the Master Plan change. I was disappointed that there was no advanced copies to study. One 1 hour into the meeting I was able to get a copy of the changes that were being summarized by the Township's planner who was highlighting the good but not the ugly. Yes, residents at this meeting did have a say but they could only talk about things not already brought up. As further insult they had to be sworn in. Note at least two residents requested the Board take their time and study the changes that where in this many page document. Now it goes for vote by the Township Committee who we were told in the past will do a financial review of how the master plan changes will affect township revenue and I hope adjoining property values. A question I have is who, or what department, will perform the review and how will the results be disclosed? Maybe one hour after the Committee convenes to vote on the zoning change? Andrew Kayser Morris Township
robert cole June 17, 2012 at 09:58 PM
I agree with Andrew Kayser's comments that "swearing in" of residents from Morristownship before they could ask a question, or make a comment at the township meetings was intimidating. When the Honeywell promoters made their presentations...I did not hear them swearing "this is the truth, the whole truth"!!! Ron Brandt and Teddi Connor along with the other Honeywell supporters have routinely "left out" information about who they are, where they live, and the possible conflict of interest they might have with this massive development project. I have been a Morristown resident for the past 30 years. The historic and rural setting in 1982 first drew me and my wife to settle here and start my practice. Over the past 30 years we have witnessed a slow deterioration of traffic, noise and safety which troubles me. The recent serious bicycle accident in front of Honeywell's property is just one example of how serious traffic has become. Speeders down Normandy Parkway are common place now. Stopped school buses are passed illegally by frustrated commuters. Trash is thrown from passing cars onto my property daily. Taxes have risen 1,200% for me during this time. Don't tell me the Honeywell Development will LOWER my taxes now! That is just a political promise. Robert Cole Morristownship resident
ConcernedResident June 18, 2012 at 02:44 AM
I also was drawn to Morrs township 10 years ago for it's rural setting, having grown up in west orange. I commuted to the academy of st Elizabeth in 1987.....and have seen the slow deterioration of open space and increase in traffic and overall congestion. Morris is on it's way to making the same mistakes as Essex county. I say LET THE PEOPLE VOTE!!!! Morris township residents should decide if they are willing to Risk losing honeywell. Just look a town over in Madison where residents successfully fought off the major development of giralda farms....not to mention fought having an exit off route 24 in their town. Madison property values speak for themselves. Who knows what Madison would look like today if giralda farms was expanded.... And if they had an exit off 24 pouring onto greenwood or ridgedale ave. The planning boards action was a huge mistake. I think they are afraid to say no. You don't have to be a town engineer to know it will change the township for the worse in terms of traffic, town resources, unknown environmental liabilities, drain on school resources etc... Again Madison nj should be our role model.....not the towns of Essex county that are overdeveloped and have the highest property taxes in the USA. I Hope the planning board reads this.....it's not too late to do the right thing. Residents are counting on them to preserve the current Morris township......we have enough unoccupied and incomplete townhouse complexes.......
ConcernedResident June 18, 2012 at 03:05 AM
You miss the point. I bought my house with honeywell as it is now.......way off the street and still having to wait in tons of traffic to drive my son at 530 pm from the intersection of normandy parkway and Columbia to Park and Columbia. I don't want an eye sore and more congestion near my home. seriously how much larger can they make those streets before they look like the parkway.......it's rediculous..... How can they change a master plan?! Isn't the point of having a master plan to preserve the integrity of the feeling of a town.... So residents can live confidently knowing the master plan will protect their property feel and value...... Why are people afraid to say "No. Not here." look at other towns who say yes... And their taxes still increase.....
Robert Ricciardi June 18, 2012 at 05:47 PM
i can not for one second see how this will help the town, it can only make worse conditions. I for one never thought this would ever pass. I thought the planning board was there represent the people of the town.not just one tax payer. after all the meetings , you would think they would at lest listen to the people's concern's . they did not. this amendment will destroy the north part of the town. I think they just went thru the meetings with minds already made up. if I was a outsider looking at this vote, I would think the whole board is in honeywell,s pocket Robert Ricciardi
Betty Barrett June 19, 2012 at 11:31 PM
I was at the Planning Board meeting when a vote was taken on the Master Plan amendment. The unanimous vote of “yes” by all members was a real eye-opener. Didn’t at least one member have a different opinion and take into consideration the concerns of the citizens whose neighborhoods will be changed forever. I am very troubled about the 200’ set-back on Columbia and Park. Why wasn’t the 300’ set-back considered? Our Township Planner seemed more interested in protecting Honeywell’s interest in the number of town houses that could be built. No one could demonstrate on a small map available exactly where the 200’ set back would be or how many established trees would remain. After the public discussions were closed, the Board's discussions were heard and the public was not allowed to respond. A vote was quickly taken. Why must every piece of land be developed to capacity? Betty Barrett
John Gotto June 21, 2012 at 07:55 PM
You're so right. This is not a "NIMBY" issue. When it comes to quality of life and property values, the whole Township is our backyard, and everybody needs to be concerned. It is especially troubling that the Planning Board showed such utter disdain for the opinions of the residents, who clearly do not want this project. John Gotto
John Gotto June 21, 2012 at 08:14 PM
After nearly two years of constant, unchanging opposition by Township residents, it is extremely discouraging to see the Planning Board approve this Master Plan amendment. It was clear long ago that the Board attaches no significance to all the legitimate and reasonable concerns expressed by the public, and indeed, there has been no satisfactory answer to just about any of the questions that were raised. Nobody has ever defined the criteria by which a proposal like this should be judged, but one would expect at least a requirement for a clear demonstration of benefit to the Township. We still do not have anything close to this. We have only the self-serving projections of the applicant. The promise of an independent economic analysis rings especially hollow when the Amendment was approved before such an analysis has been conducted. It is not too late now for the Township Committee to demonstrate some thoughtfulness and responsiveness by declining to implement a zoning ordinance. In the absence of a clear demonstration of benefit to the Township, this zoning should not be introduced, especially when it is so strongly opposed by residents. At least the Township Committee, unlike the Planning Board, is answerable to voters, and we can hope that they keep this in mind. John Gotto
Matthew Kolster July 20, 2012 at 09:59 AM
I agree this board is not looking after the best interest of the township residents. Another example is the widening of West Hanover Ave from 2 lanes to 4 taking our sidewalks making our neighborhood unsafe. Scott Rosenbush was at the end of our street handing out flyers to people from other towns to call the county freeholders and demand and extension of a traffic study that was done a couple of years back. Scott and Bruce Sissler are pushing for this study because Bruce lives on Mill Road and gets some cut through traffic when W Hanover backs up during rush hour. They know the residents are against it and they don’t care. They are both up for re election in November and I say we vote them out.
Rob Burke July 26, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Outrageous. Despicable. Underhanded. That's the best description of the classic Jersey technique employed by local governments throughout our great State. Shove the controversial, unpopular plan down the throats of the taxpayers under cover of darkness, by scheduling final hearings in the dead of summer. Mr. Goldberg's letter to the editor published on nj.com yesterday was SPOT ON! There's no reason why this COMMUNITY CHANGING acting cannot wait another 30 days to be heard in September. Indeed, the only reason for such a delay is for our fearless officials to avoid scrutiny. Transparency is a good thing. Community participation is a food thing. These should be fostered and encouraged, not shut down.

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