Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Letter to the Editor: NJ DEP Issues Violation Notices to Puddingstone Development for Wetland Disturbance

Dear Editor:

Notices of Violation have been issued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to Puddingtone Developers, LLC for unauthorized disturbance to freshwater wetlands and a transition area.

The WLM’s Bureau of Coastal and Land Use Compliance and Enforcement conducted an investigation in response to incident reports regarding alleged unauthorized activities within regulated areas at 35-47 Beverly Stand 59 Koch Avenue in Parsippany-Troy Hills. The Notices were issued in mid-September as the result of the investigation.

In early spring, large piles of soil from the development at the end of Beverly Street were discovered pouring down the mountainside in streams onto the adjacent property of Greystone Psychiatric Hospital.

Limited efforts were made to fix silt fences by the developer. A state-identified vernal pool was filled with sediment and a large freshwater reservoir with a tributary to the North Branch Whippany Watershed was completely muddied. Meanwhile, an NJDEP-capped landfill that had not been touched for 30 years was gullied. The estimate for the remediation is undetermined at this time but is in the seven-figure range according to an engineer for the Department of Human Services.

Puddingstone Developers LLC is part of the Mossberg family and Wilf developers with a long record of questionable building history and ethics in Parsippany Township. Long-time residents of Parsippany who do not share the same love of community impact on the environment and fellow neighbors’ welfare.

Since April 2023, the Puddingstone neighborhoods have collectively been campaigning to Save the Ridge from Puddingtone Developers LLC extension of a creeping subdivision located behind Greystone Psychiatric Hospital and the Morris County Police and Fire Training Academy.

If the Zoning Board of Adjustments approves the C Variance, one of the few densely forested areas left in Parsippany will continue to be demolished, Puddingstone Heights residents maintain.

“It is of the public interest for the board to seriously consider the overwhelmingly negative feedback and concerns over safety in the neighborhood — underscoring the seriousness of their decision, and the liability and culpability of any detrimental outcome on this board — which will be enthusiastically voiced in any such event to any platform warranted,” said resident, Guy Lehman.

In fact, at the first Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing in April, the attendance was over the meeting room capacity and had to be rescheduled to a larger venue. At the July hearing at Parsippany Hills High School, Puddingstone Developers LLC came ill-prepared as their revised plans had not been submitted. The ZBA continued with the meeting questioning the engineer based on outdated 2003 plans. Revised plans were not submitted until 10 days before the September hearing.

What the audience learned at the following hearings is up to individual interpretation as the reason for the developer’s request for a C Variance changes with each ZBA hearing.

At the hearings in July and September, the reason for variance was better marketability for two homes to be built with slightly bigger backyards. In October, the land-use planner stated it was to create a “balance” as his plan would create an ecotone. An ecotone will be created on the steep slope after 372 mature trees are removed only to be replaced by 2-inch-caliber trees that will first be maintained by the Township of Parsippany and then by the new homeowners.

Will the ecotone be able to control the storm waste and intermittent streams that flow like rivers off the mountainside? After the trees are trucked out of this residential neighborhood 2,000 trucks carrying 32,000 cubic yards of questionable dumping of soil from local construction projects to level the mountainside to create a football-sized ledge to build two homes with 400-foot driveways.

The developer is requesting a variance to build on a steep slope that is 5 times the amount that the township steep slope ordinance allows. The developer’s EcolScience study had recently expired and had no intent to provide a letter of interpretation from the NJDEP or permit concerning the purposed regulated activity in and around freshwater wetlands.

When the developer’s engineer was pressed about stormwater management plans, soil erosion, and future damage to the neighborhood properties above and continued damage to the wetlands and Greystone Hospital property below the audience members were repeatedly told by the developer’s attorney “We are only discussing the two building lots”.

“Every property owner has the right to develop their land, but land use laws are put in place to ensure that development occurs responsibly, in a way that looks out for the environment and the good of the broader community,” said Diana Buffum, another area resident. “This developer wants to ignore those rules, just to make more money.”

A vote for the developer’s variance request jeopardizes the mountainside, according to the concerned residents from Puddingstone Ridge, and its neighbors above and below, which the developer’s attorney refuses to address.

Parsippany Township is at risk for future damages to the North Branch Whippany Watershed and the responsibility for the destruction of the wetlands and Greystone Psychiatric Hospital grounds, the resident group contends. The Zoning Board’s vote will determine the future topography of the Watnong mountainside and a landscape forever changed.

“We support responsible development so that people can coexist with the environment, without causing irreparable harm,” said Chris Venezia.

The next meeting on this issue with an opportunity for statements from the public will be Wednesday, November 29 when the Parsippany Zoning Board of Adjustments convenes at 7:00 p.m. at Parsippany High School, 40 Baldwin Road.

Jes Becker
PCC Kids
Club Puddingstone Action Team

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The above press release has been submitted to Parsippany Focus in accordance with their policy of printing the content as submitted. It is important to note that the opinions and information contained in the press release have not been verified by the publisher, and the publisher assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or content of the press release.
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