There's a new name and an expanded fight for the citizen's group opposed to the proposed plan to put a mixed-use development on Waterview Plaza including a Whole Foods Market, a big box retailer and a townhome community. Don't Rezone Waterview is now known as Citizens for Health, Safety and Welfare.
President David Kaplan said the onetime grassroots effort involving citizens of Parsippany and Mountain Lakes is gearing up for a renewed fight now that the Planning Board passed the issue along to the Township Council for consideration.
"We went from Don't Rezone Watervew, which was a grassroots, loosely organized effort to a more formal organization," he said, adding that the group is amassing firepower to allow them to stand toe to toe with developer RD Realty's team.
"We're now an official 501(c)3 nonprofit group. Ww have a board of directors and officers and an attorney. And we are in the process of interviewing and retaining experts, specifically a planner and a traffic consultant."
CHSW is now a new and official member of the environmentally minded Highlands Coalition, Kaplan said, noting that the organization is also providing the Parsippany group with counsel to fight the Watervew development.
Additionally, the group, which has colorful Don't Rezone Waterview signs all over the township, plans to create updated signage. Kaplan said the group's Don't Rezone Waterview website now redirects to a new site.
"We're working on several fundraisers because we need money to pay for these experts," he said. "We're going to cover the Mountain Lakes perspective and the Parsippany perspective. The idea is to generate a lot of money on our cause."
All of the hard work and revamping is to get the group ready to take on the Town Council and convince its members not to approve changing Waterview's current Planned Office Development zone to make 26.6 acres of the 132-acre site into an overlay zone that permits mixed-use.
CHSW opposes the plan because of environmental concerns and to protect quality of life for people who live closest to what they characterize as a "coming strip mall" and for all in Parsippany and adjacent municipalities.
During the Parsippany Planning Board's consideration of the matter, which it recommended to the Town Council in mid-February, Don't Rezone Waterview members packed Planning Board meetings at Town Hall, finally showing up in numbers that violated the Par-Troy fire code and forcing the hearings to move to Parsippany High School.
And Kaplan warns that the next Town Council meeting, scheduled for March 12 at Town Hall, could suffer a similar fate.
"We encourage as many people as possible to come to the next council meeting, because we were told Waterview will be on the agenda," he said. "I've emailed the mayor and the town clerk, and right now the meeting is still scheduled for Town Hall, but they may change the location to the high school.
"I would hope so, so they can accommodate all the people concerned about the issue. Town Hall won't be able to hold the number of people who've turned out against Waterview development at the last three Planning Board meetings."