Oradell Weighs In On Hekemian Development
Oradell heeds SOD's call and comes out to speak to negative impact of development.
On Tuesday June 12, members from Stop Over Development (SOD) appeared before the Oradell Mayor and Council urging them to educate both themselves and their residents about the potential impacts the development of the United Water property could have on Oradell.
That call was heeded Thursday when Oradell resident, Tom Belthoff, came before the Zoning Board to support New Milford residents opposed to the proposed development of the United Water property by New Milford Redevelopment Associates, whose president is Peter Hekemian of the S. Hekemian Group.
Belthoff, originally from New Milford, has been involved in many grassroots campaigns in Oradell--all successful. One recent example is his involvement in Citizen Action to Preserve Oradell (CAPO) a group that successfully fought the development of Walgreen's. Like SOD, CAPO is dedicated to preserving the small-town character of Oradell by limiting development of large-scale commercial projects.
Belthoff focused his questioning of the developer's expert in appraisals and land valuations, Mark Sussman, on whether Sussman would concede that appraising properties in "unprecedented economic times--post 2007 and 2008" has a negative impact on property values as opposed to appraisals that were done between 2004 and 2007, the years in which his analysis is based.
Belthoff pressed Sussman to concede that the current market, with its limited liquidity, difficutly in obtaining mortgages and more supply than demand, is not reflective of the market that existed between 2004 and 2007, the time frame used in the property sales that Sussman is using as a basis in his analysis that there is no negative impact on the value of a single family residential home located across from a large scale delveopment.
In response Sussman said, "It's a volatile market now, and it’s hard to appraise houses in a volatile market."
Belthoff also asked Sussman if his analysis considered the impact on the infrastructure: police, fire, schools and flooding, to which Sussman said he did not consider because it was not the focus of his analysis.
In talking to Patch, Bethoff said that the development of the United Water property has a significant impact on so many fronts--not only in New Milford, but in Oradell, as well. He emphasized that the affects of this potential large-scale development on flooding and on the infrastructure are not just New Milford problems.
"For one thing, New Milford and Oradell share an ambulance service," Belthoff said. He questioned who would shoulder the cost when their services are overburdened by this new development.
Belthoff said that given the fact that Oradell came out in full force to oppose the opening of the Elm Street Bridge because of the increased traffic it would generate, he was certain they would come out in large numbers to support New Milford as the hearings proceeded.
"Given the increased traffic of this proposed development, there is no question that Oradell will come out in full force to support New Milford," he said.
"We're keeping an eye on what's going on with these proceedings, which is why I am here tonight," Belthoff said.
"We are very concerned."