Oradell Residents Worried by Hekemian Development's Traffic Impact
While the New Milford Zoning Board heard about the proposed United Water development's impact on traffic in New Milford, Oradell residents expressed their concerns in their home town
While audience members and the New Milford Zoning Board heard from traffic engineer Elizabeth "Betsy" Dolan Tuesday night on the possible traffic impact and trip generation by the development of the United Water property, the Oradell governing body listened to its own residents concerns and considered what steps could be made on their part.
"I view the traffic concern as an economic issue," Maple Avenue resident Regina Little said. "When you have more traffic you are required to use a higher quality material for repairs which would impact the budget. I'm also concerned with the question of flooding, this project would add impervious coverage to an area that could force water into the electrical generators, our cellars; it's a disaster waiting to happen."
The United Water property project, designed by New Milford Redevelopment Associates LLC, for the 13.6 acre lot call for a 70,500 sq. ft. supermarket, a 4300 sq. ft. bank, 221 residential townhouse units, a parking lot and a four-story parking garage.
Dolan in her testimony to New Milford assessed the existing infrastructure in the vicinity of the site, and identified existing traffic patterns, and projects future traffic volumes.
She primarily focused her analysis of River Road in the area of New Milford High School and the intersections of River Road, Cecchino Drive and Main Street, and Madison Avenue and Cecchino Drive and Main Street and studied over the course of one year.
But in Oradell, residents were more concerned about any impact to New Milford Road and on Elm Street once the bridge rehabiltation has been completed and is open to the public.
"In addition to floding and traffic, I'm also seriously concerned with the infrastructure," Beechwood Road resident Tom Belthoff said. "The New Milford Ambulance servics Oradell, our fire and police departments provide coverage to New Milford. If you drive up New Milford Avenue during rush hour, school openings or closing, you're lucky there are no collisions with the trains. At somepoint the Elm Street Bridge will be open and that will serve as a cut-through and impact residents on Elm and Grove."
According to Dolan, she focused her study at the following hours during the month of September 2011 and February, March and April 2012:
- Monday through Friday 7am-9am; 2pm to 4pm; and 4pm to 6pm.
- 1pm to 2pm Saturday
- 7pm to 9pm summarized peak hour at each intersection
- 2pm to 4pm
- 4pm to 6pm
- Saturday 11am to 2pm
The study determined that with the addition of traffic generated by the proposed development, the levels of service and delay for the River Road, Cecchino Drive and the Madison Avenue intersections would not cause any change in service. It was determined that all approaches will operate at "acceptable levels of service or better with the addition of site traffic."
Dolan indicated in her testimony that the combination of existing street volume and site generated traffic is "not that high." She also said that because the plans call for more than one ingress and egress site - there will be two on River Road, one on Main Street and one on Madison Avenue - the traffic will not be forced through any one exit. With no individual driveway being burdened, she said that there will not be any disruption in the flow of traffic.
"Elm Street will be used as a cut street," Demarest Avenue resident Mike Kurk said. "The flooding is a no-brainer with the creation of impervious surfaces, you will have areas on Grove that have never flooded before, St. Joseph's will flood. I've had four floods in the 10 years I've lived in town.
Previously, Hekemian engineering expert Michael Dipple stated that based on the 1980 flood maps he used, there would not be any additional flooding to the area due to the installation of two detention system basins on the south end of the property, infiltration systems and the use of berms around the property to reduce the rate of surface runoff.
"One of our problems is how to go about fighting this," Oradell Mayor Joseph Murray said. "I'm not sure what recourse we could have short of suing New Milford if the Zoning Board approves all those variances."
In the meantime, Oradell will seek an engineering expert and flooding expert to advise them about what they could do. Normally, Oradell is represented by Boswell Engineering but a conflict as arisen as the company also represents New Milford.