RD Realty files suit against Parsippany Council to overturn ordinance

waterviewsiteplanRD Realty has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Parsippany Township Council’s rejection of its proposal to build a complex including a Whole Foods supermarket, a Target store and townhouses at the intersection of Waterview Boulevard and Route 46, according to court documents obtained by Parsippany Focus.

At a meeting held on October 1, 2013 at Parsippany Hills High School and attended by over 500 residents, the council voted 3-2 to deny the Waterview Overlay Ordinance (know as Ordinance No. 2013:28). Councilman Nelson, Carifi and Stanton voted against the project, while Councilman dePierro and Ferrara voted for the project.

The planning board at its September 17 meeting recommended to approve RD Realty’s proposed mixed-use development on a 26.6-acre parcel on Waterview Boulevard.  The zoning currently calls for professional office district “POD”.

The project drew opposition from a group of Parsippany and Mountain Lakes residents known as Citizens for Health, Safety and Welfare, who were concerned about the development’s impact on traffic, flooding and water availability. For more information of CHSW click here.

RD’s lawsuit, made public this week in Superior Court in Morristown, says the project was to involve 190,000 square feet of retail space including the Target, Whole Foods and a restaurant and bank, along with 72 townhomes.

The lawsuit, filed for RD by attorney Robert Kasuba, seeks a court order requiring the council to adopt the rezoning.

The suit acknowledges that the lot is within a professional office district. But it says there has been “substantial interest” among developers to build residences in the area and the planning board recommended rezoning the property as an “overlay zone” that would allow retail, commercial and residential uses.

The suit charges that the council’s refusal to adopt the rezoning was “unreasonable” and violated the New Jersey Constitution and the Municipal Land Use Law.

The suit claims the land use law requires zoning to “encourage the most appropriate use of land,” and the council “violated” that requirement.

“Whole Foods is a great company. I’d love to have them here but in a development plan that is in keeping with our land use Master Plan,” said Former Mayor Mimi Letts.

Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr.

Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr., stated he has not seen the lawsuit at the present time, and therefore cannot  comment at this time.  Other councilman were attending the 98th Annual New Jersey State League of Municipalities Conference in Atlantic City, and could not be reached.

RD Realty first presented to the Planning Board the concept of a overlay zone on September 13, 2012 to change 26.6 acres, presently a POD (Planned Office Development) to permit a mixed-use retail/commercial/residential development, known as the RCR Overlay district. The Planning Board first public hearing was on November 19, 2012.

The proposed project would include a 40,000-square-foot supermarket, likely Whole Foods, and a 137,000-square-foot “big box” department store (originally rumored to be Target). For the residential portion of the project, the developer is seeking to build a neighborhood of townhouses—first 72 units, but then reduced to 65.

The ordinance would also allow the construction of parking lots for more than 1,100 cars and increase the amount of allowable impermeable surface from 45 percent (what the current POD zoning allows) to 75 percent.

By covering the area with asphalt and sidewalk, rather than keeping the trees, plants and soil that soak up rain water for the aquifer, water is prevented from being absorbed and has to flow somewhere else—along with all of the possible pollutants from cars, people and buildings.

Also at stake was the quality of life and property values for local residents. Part of RD Realty’s plan was to create two more lanes on both eastbound and westbound sides of Route 46 to accommodate increased traffic and potentially channel surplus traffic onto Route 202, a proposed access road to Intervale Road, and Boulevard in Mountain Lakes.