Letters to the Editor

And the Residents Speak: SWAP Hearing October 6, 2014


To the Editor:

Well, we listened to another fantasy story on how wonderful our community would look and function with 140+ condos at our current Municipal Site. The power point presentation was really disturbing to me and obviously also to many other residents as they asked their questions later. I almost feel that we are listening to our parents and they know what is best for us.

We were told and shown how beautiful the architecture could be with proposed 3 ½ (4) story structures. We were told that we can double the use of 70 parking spaces required for condo residents and those spaces used by commuters???   I, for one, could not see any beauty in the pictures. We were told how the plan allowed for lower structures, near our residents homes. Gee, thanks for their thinking.

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One real shocker, we were told that while “estimating on the high side”, there would be no more than 20 school aged children occupying the new approximately 140 condos. This appears to be another example of the magic of the numbers used to justify the TC’s Swap Plan. It became obvious the locations used to obtain this data were no way representative of Berkeley Heights. People move to Berkeley Heights for our schools, not for the commute. Many residents did not accept this number, as demonstrated later by the questions and comments by residents and Mr. Delia of the TC.

The concept that we can make the “Buyer Pay” for site remediation is totally false. The seller always pays one way or another. This is either paid, up front, by the seller, or paid by the seller with a reduction selling price. How can anyone say that contaminated land is worth the same as land with no contamination?  No matter how you look at this, the land has a lower value if it is known to be contaminated. This is true no matter how many developers have been involved in the reaching this biased conclusion.

It was verified that the TC has spent $100,000.00 to date on the studies performed to “Make it fit”, as this was obvious in each and every presentation. We, apparently, do not have enough funds for any road resurfacing this year, but we seem to have unlimited, uncontrolled funding for closed session SWAP Meet funding.

There will be additional studies and environmental reviews that were said to be expensive. I believe there are several aspects of the “PLAN” that will not be given DEP approval. The State of New Jersey has recently taken a new initiative to reduce flooding of waste treatment plants statewide due to raw sewage releases during the recent storms.  Our plant did have some flooding during these storms. The Snyder Avenue “Campus” will only worsen that situation at our plant. I have been in contact with NJ DEP and I plan to continue my discussions, providing additional details of the “PLAN” as they become available. This will include review of the DPW at the church site and existing contamination at the DPW.

Residents questions and comments made it very clear, “We like our town the way it is!” There were several times when the audience started applauding when statements were made to this effect.

One thing that was said that disturbed me was that it was mentioned during this hearing, “In discussions with Developers.“ I was surprised, as I specifically asked this question during the first hearing and was told flatly NO.  It seems that our Mayor was speaking about himself only in that response.

“Do you hear what I hear”, to quote a hymnal -- the sound of residents, who, after learning more details are no longer “Swap” minded! I have had several families tell me they will move out of town, if these condos are coming!

I, again, ask why we would have to raze our existing Municipal Building to meet our current requirements. How about looking at existing plans available that were done, renovating our current site?

Finally, we were repeatedly told the presented plan is not cast in concrete. I believe this is now a sign by the TC, that maybe they have to go back to the drawing board!

The residents indicated they want to be part of the solutions offered to meet our needs. They also said they want to have a vote on any future plan(s).

If the TC does not agree to this, we, the residents, can and will make that happen! If all of my comments seem as if I am warring against our TC, I am, we are. They have attacked us, our families, our homes, our Town, with no apparent regard for anyone, except for their agenda and their plan. They are only, just now, seemingly making some concessions. Well, we do not want concessions, we want to "STOP THE SWAP"!

Art Scholl

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

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