Whole Foods Hearing Postponed Due to Large Crowd
No word yet on when and where resumed testimony will take place.
Residents from Parsippany's Intervale area—including citizens of nearby Mountain Lakes—packed the large room. They were there to hear continued testimony on the contentious proposal by RD Realty to put a Whole Foods Market, other retailers and an upscale townhouse development on Waterview Plaza.
But the testimony could not go forward. After the meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance, Parsippany Fire Official Michael D'Alessandro announced that the proceedings could not continue because the number of people in the room exceeded the maximum amount allowed by township fire safety code.
D'Alessandro could not be reached to provide the number. A staffer in the town's Fire Prevention office said the official would not be in the office until Thursday. Currently, the only fire safety sign in Council Chambers says a maximum of 124 people can be in the front approximate three-quarters of the large room, which can be divided into a front and smaller rear section.
Board Chair Kaushik "Casey" Parikh ran through other matters scheduled to be heard before the panel, in hopes that the audience size might be reduced and allow the Waterview application testimony to proceed. The move proved fruitless, as most everyone in the building, including Mayor James Barberio and Town Council members Michael dePierro, Paul Carifi Jr. and Brian Stanton, was present for the Waterview case.
Developer RD Realty wants to convert 26 acres on the plaza that are zoned for office space into an overlay zone that would allow mixed retail and residential use.
Many residents object to the Waterview development project for a host of reasons, including fears regarding environmental concerns, increased traffic, possible school overcrowding, higher taxes and negative impacts on quality of life.
Parikh said testimony on the controversial application will resume at a future date in a different location; both have yet to be determined. He said the likely new site will be a school and that the board will contact the Parsippany school district to make arrangements.
The Planning Board is not deciding whether the project will move forward. It will hear the testimony and make a recommendation to the Township Council, which ultimately will decide the Waterview development proposal's fate.