Verona residents have waited patiently since June for their say on a developer’s proposal for a three-story retail and residential property with two parking lots designed for 176 and 200 Bloomfield Ave.
Monday night, residents got their first chance to step up to the microphone and speak out about the proposal at a hearing with developer DMH2 LLC before the Verona Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Residents filled nearly every chair and an overflow crowd filled the hallway of the Verona Community Center ballroom Monday night.
Of the nearly 60 people who attended the meeting, more than 30 residents approached the board to provide testimony.
“This project will take years and my home is only 24 inches from their property,” said Mary Purcell, the closest resident to the property's buffer zone. “There will be truckloads right outside my window dumping dirt and loose rocks with dirt strewn about my house.”
Purcell is also concerned about rock blasting about 20 feet from her house, which she claims would shake the floor of her home, a prospect that would frighten her, she said. After blasting, the construction would require breaking up of rock for eight hours a day, which is right outside her window, she said.
“The project is entirely too long, invasive and destructive,” said Purcell.
Jack McEvoy, a contractor, home inspector and neighbor of Purcell raised concerns over a 44-foot drop-off from a retaining wall as proposed by the developer.
He claimed the blasting required for the project will put the foundations of the nearby houses at risk which will only be heightened by rain, he said.
Other residents feel the drop-off will put children at risk, especially when snow plows push the snow up at the end of Montclair Avenue.
“The plows will push the snow higher than any wall,” one resident said. “The thought of a child falling over that side shakes me to my core.”
Other residents addressed issues about traffic, air quality, noise, damage, interruption of utilities, safety of children and a plethora of other concerns.
Nearby resident Jessica Pearson submitted reports from the New Jersey Department of Transportation and Verona Police Department as evidence as to how an increase of traffic at a nearby property led to an increase of accidents on Bloomfield Avenue.
The reports were obtained by local therapist and life-counseling Sue Waldman.
Alan Trembulak, the attorney representing the developer, did not object to the submission of the evidence, but called the relevance of the reports into question saying that some of the reports were more than five years old.
Waldman disagreed, saying "the reports clearly indicate that prior to 7-Eleven being built (only a few blocks down from the proposed property) the accidents have doubled."
After nearly three hours of resident’s testimony, the board adjourned the meeting until Thursday, Feb. 14, once again at the Verona Community Center.
When the hearing reconvenes, the board is scheduled to hear testimony from community planning consultant Peter Steck, an expert witness who will speak for those opposed to the development.