Bridewater Mayoral Candidate Brookner’s (FULL!) Response to Monday Night’s Planning Board Meeting


Bridgewater Mayoral candidate Jeffrey Brookner’s full response to Monday night’s Planning Board Meeting:

1.           The sheer size and scope of the project gives rise to many serious concerns, not the least of which is traffic on Route 202/206 and in surrounding areas.  There are also legitimate concerns related to school impact, environmental contamination, and aesthetics, amongst others.  The best time to deal with those concerns would have been back in early 2016, when the Township Council was deciding whether to rezone the property.  Unfortunately, the two council members (Felipe Pedroso and Howard Norgalis) who urged caution and argued for more thorough investigation were outvoted by the majority (Matt Moench, Alan Kurdyla, and Christine Henderson Rose).


2.           The COE application is largely consistent with the Redevelopment Ordinance that the Township Council passed in February 2016.  It’s always fun to blame the Planning Board, but the lion’s share of the blame rests with the 3 council members who voted yes for the ordinance.


3.           Opposing development projects that are largely compliant with applicable zoning laws is difficult, and fraught with peril.  The Planning Board can, and should, look very carefully at every aspect of the project to find ways in which it does not comply with the redevelopment ordinance or other zoning laws.  Where discrepancies are found, the Planning Board should enforce the ordinance to the full extent allowed by law.  However, the Planning Board cannot lose sight of the fact that the developer has vested legal rights.  The Planning Board cannot say no just because they, or the public, don’t want the project to be built.


4.           The developer’s rights include a right to mandatory variances if certain criteria are met.  If the Planning Board does not follow the law, it can be sued (and lose) for denying a variance.


5.           The topic of last night’s testimony – parking for the fenced-in Office, Research & Development (“ORD”) area – was little more than a distraction.  If the goal is political grandstanding, then last night was great.  But if the goal is to actually make a difference that might influence (or even kill) the project, last night had little value.


6.           Matt Moench and others were encouraging the Planning Board to reject the ORD portion of the project due to inadequate parking.  Unfortunately, the Planning Board’s only point of leverage would be to require more parking.  Because the project already operates with just 1190 spaces, requiring more than that would expose the Township to expensive litigation that would be hard to win.  The Planning Board could reject the request to reduce the number of spaces to 1168, but the developer would just find somewhere else to put the extra 22 spaces.  This would be a mistake on many levels (environmental, flooding, aesthetics…).

7.           One good argument made last night was that the traffic studies were unreliable because they were conducted during the summer.  It would be within the Planning Board’s discretion to require a study conducted during a more typical week, and I think they should.  For a project of this magnitude, we can’t afford errors.


Jeffrey Brookner

Democratic Candidate for Mayor

Bridgewater Township


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