Expert Faults Bloomfield Ave. Development Plan

By on June 25, 2014

All of the trees and all of the soil and rock now on lots 176 and 200 Bloomfield Avenue would be removed if the DMH2 development is approved

All of the trees and all of the soil and rock now on lots 176 and 200 Bloomfield Avenue would be removed if the DMH2 development is approved

Hatch Mott MacDonald, an engineering firm retained by the Township of Verona to evaluate the stormwater management plan at a proposed Bloomfield Avenue development, has concluded that the plan does not comply with Verona laws and needs to be redone.

In a June 10 letter addressed to Jim Helb, Verona’s town engineer, Hatch Mott project engineer John Dening faults seven aspects of the development plan drafted by DMH2 for 176-200 Bloomfield Avenue. That plan, which would level two steeply wooded lots, has been before the Verona Planning Board since last summer. DMH2’s original plan for the site was killed by the Verona Board of Adjustment in March 2013.

The building now proposed for the site is smaller than the original plan, but DMH2 still intends to completely excavate and level the lots. It needed to file a plan to show how the development would handle water from rain and other storms, given the proposed changes. That plan, and the favorable opinion on it by Helb, was challenged by opponents to the project, so Helb apparently sent it out for an independent review. Neither Helb nor Alan Trembulak, the lawyer representing DMH2, returned calls by this reporter on the letter.

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In the letter, Dening pointed out such issues as different locations for the stormwater filtration system on the plan sheets–upstream on one and downstream on another–as well as insufficient grading, and curbing placed over a drainage structure. He also faulted the plan’s proposed connection to an existing manhole, before concluding that:

“In our opinion the applicant has not achieved compliance with the stormwater management ordinance, and should be required and should be required to modify their stormwater management plan and facilities to comply with the ordinance prior to receiving approval.”

But there may be problems beyond those identified by Hatch Mott. Dening’s letter asserts that the site is an Urban Redevelopment Area and therefore entirely exempt from following certain standards on how precipitation moves through the site. That however, is contrary to rules established by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which exempts only the previously developed portions of a site from the so-called groundwater recharge requirements. There is a house, paved driveway and small garage on the 1.5 acre DMH2 site, but the rest is covered with trees and plants.

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DMH2 is back before the Planning Board on Thursday, June 26. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

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