Dear Nutley residents:
Mayor Tucci recently wrote a letter published in local media outlets detailing actions taken by the Nutley Board of Commissioners regarding Prism’s project on the former Hoffman-La Roche site, ON3, voting unanimously to adopt Phase III of the Redevelopment Plan - Circulation + Roadways, for the site. Here’s what the Mayor did not tell you:
The Mayor said the Commissioners adopted a Phase III Redevelopment Plan to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Nutley.
The Nutley Board of Commissioners voted and adopted the plan without EVER meeting or discussing the proposed plan with Prism, or providing any advance notice or asking to meet. The Phase III Redevelopment Plan is not a Redevelopment Plan. It’s an illegal ordinance permitting Nutley to erect barriers on Prism’s private roadways at the Township border with Clifton to prevent businesses on the Clifton side of the project from driving through the Campus to the Nutley side.
After four years of waiting for the Commissioners to determine what they would like to see built on the Nutley side of ON3, this is what their time and money produced: an ordinance aimed at interfering with and curtailing any opportunity to create a cohesive and balanced development which would benefit both municipalities for years to come.
The Mayor said that Prism and the City of Clifton plan to take legal action.
What he didn’t say: The Commissioners’ actions will cost you, the taxpayer, money. The Nutley ordinance violates multiple state statutes as well as federal property rights. Prism and Clifton were left with no choice other than to take immediate legal action to protect and preserve private property rights and the rights of the occupants in the Campus.
The Mayor said forcibly blocking the campus roads at the Nutley/Clifton border will somehow reduce potential traffic impacts on Nutley’s roads.
What he didn’t say: Such an action will result in EXACTLY the opposite result. Anyone in Clifton seeking to get to buildings in Nutley, will now have to drive on Route 3 and exit at either Bloomfield Avenue or Passaic Avenue, and enter the Nutley side of the Campus through Kingsland Street instead of using the Route 3 and the Campus roads.
The Mayor said the Nutley Commissioners are pro-development.
The Nutley Commissioners cannot possibly be pro-development.
- Seven years ago, Roche announced they were leaving. Three years later, Prism purchased the Roche property, and the Nutley Commissioners have not authorized or approved a single new project for development, nor passed a single ordinance providing for new development.
- The Nutley Commissioners have spent taxpayer money actively challenging and opposing Prism’s development applications in Clifton, including a new medical office building and a first -class hotel with a roof-top bar.
- More than a year ago, Prism proposed to develop an Assisted Living facility to be located on the South side of Kingsland Street, a plan that was overwhelmingly supported through a petition signed by more than 1,000 Nutley residents. But the Commissioners refused to act on Prism’s request to approve a plan permitting this use. A pro-development government does not take unilateral action to close roads as a means to stymie and control development.
The Mayor said that Prism is developing ON3 in a piecemeal fashion?
When Roche owned the site, they didn’t build everything at once. A project the scope and scale of ON3 has to be built over time. What he didn’t say was that Prism has a comprehensive masterplan for the entire ON3 development, and both municipalities have seen it. It is very similar in scope and scale to the concept plans created in 2014 by the Joint Repurposing Commission (JRC). The JRC was a body formed by Nutley and Clifton to jointly review the future possibilities for the Roche Campus.
The Mayor said most of the development and tax benefits would be in Clifton, and Nutley would get all the traffic
What he didn’t say was only 44% of the land at ON3 is in Nutley while Clifton has 56% of the land. Nutley has 63% of all the buildings and collects 67% of all the taxes. Prism’s masterplan creates a fair and balanced development with 55% of the total proposed development in Clifton and 45% in Nutley, fairly matching the allocation of lands. If the Commissioner’s Phase III plan is permitted to shut down the Campus roads, then without a doubt, the traffic impact to Nutley WILL BE disproportionately greater because vehicles will have to use local Nutley roads to access the site instead of coming in directly from Route 3.
The Mayor said that Prism did not provide a traffic study for what the impacts would be based on the full development buildout. Prism has provided the necessary traffic studies as required by NJ law with each site plan application. There has been no need to provide an overall traffic study because (1) neither Municipality has approved the proposed masterplan and (2) a comprehensive traffic study was completed in 2014 by Clifton and Nutley, through the JRC. That traffic study concluded that the
project would meet acceptable levels of traffic service with modest improvements at key intersections. The latest traffic study produced by Nutley’s consultant actually comes to the same conclusion.
The Mayor said that Nutley does not oppose the full build-out of the project.
If they don’t oppose the full build-out, then why have Commissioners not done anything in the past seven years to approve new development on the site? And, why do they use taxpayer money to challenge development applications in Clifton?
The Mayor said Nutley is raising concerns and has met with Clifton and Prism to propose solutions?
What he didn’t say was that Nutley’s meeting with Clifton and Prism consisted of a threat by Nutley’s attorneys to continue to oppose and challenge any new development unless Prism agreed to construct an ill-conceived and poorly designed fly-over on Route 3 in Clifton, costing more than $50 million. Nutley’s own traffic engineer, Lou Lugio from Sam Schwartz Associates, testified under oath in Clifton that such a fly-over would not be a reasonable solution.
The Mayor said Prism rejected the idea and that we didn’t think improvements were needed at all.
Prism has attempted to address traffic proactively. Two years ago Prism met with Nutley and Essex County and proposed improvements that Prism would pay for, at the two Campus entrances on Kingsland Street. Despite Essex County agreeing, Nutley refused to take any action to support the improvements. Prism has always maintained that it will make traffic improvements determined to be reasonable and necessary, though the normal land use process, just like we are spending $2 million along Bloomfield Avenue for the Quest development.
The Mayor said that the Commissioners were forced to adopt the plan that restricts traffic on Metro Boulevard in order to immediately balance the negative impacts. There have been no negative impacts to date. Total traffic generated by ON3 remains well below the traffic that existed with Roche. There is no traffic study or professional determination, including those studies completed by Nutley’s consultants, that say that closing Metro Boulevard is necessary to protect welfare, health and safety of the public.
The Mayor says the Commissioners are hopeful that a positive collaborative process can still take place.
The Commissioners actions have done nothing to benefit Nutley’s citizens, but they have created an adversarial relationship with Prism. The Commissioners continue to refuse to meet with Prism and its experts to discuss their concerns. Prism should not be forced to make unnecessary improvements under the threat of closure of our roads and violation of our private property rights by Nutley’s illegal ordinance.
The Mayor said that if it wasn’t for the work of the Board, ON3 wouldn’t be where it is today.
Prism has made ON3 a success by risking huge sums of money to breathe life back into this once economic engine that stopped running when Roche left. It’s Prism’s vision, commitment to the quality of development, and willingness to invest hundreds of millions of dollars that have attracted the great businesses and jobs into Nutley. The Commissioners have spent four years accomplishing little - no plans approved, no new uses planned or approved for the site, and now only roadblocks to stymie progress. As a taxpayer you should focus on your property taxes, the value of your homes, the vitality of your downtown and the quality of your schools. The complete and active redevelopment of ON3 helps all of that.
Since Prism started the redevelopment with the opening of the Hackensack Meridian Health College of Medicine, housing values in Nutley have risen at twice the rate of homes in Essex County. By comparison, for the three years after Roche announced they were leaving, Nutley home values rose at less than half the rate of other homes in Essex County.
Tell your Commissioners to stop wasting taxpayers’ money and start taking cooperative and proactive steps to bring the future vision of ON3 to full fruition so everyone can enjoy this incredible development and all the benefits it brings.
Eugene Diaz, Principal Partner
Prism Capital Partners
Editor's Note: The Open Letter from Township of Nutley Mayor Tucci is here: Open Letter from Mayor Tucci to Nutley Residents Regarding ON3 Redevelopment Project