Plans for a retail and residential project across from Everett Field in Verona have upset residents of the neighborhood, many of whom believe construction of the building could damage their homes and ruin their views.
After lengthy legal arguments by the attorneys before about 50 members of the public that proceeded late into night, the Verona Board of Adjustment decided to continue hearings regarding the plans for the site, though they are still months away from a decision.
“This is a very difficult case,” said Board of Adjustment member Michael Zichelli. “Just the lay of the land is so much different than any other property in Verona… special attention is required. Besides the topography, it butts up against residential property.”
The Victorian farmhouse at 200 Bloomfield Ave., along with an adjacent lot was sold to Sparta-based developer DMH2 LLC, shortly before the death of its owner. The house dates back to the 1890s and would be demolished along with approximately 80 trees in order to make room for a 3½-story building, containing retail stores on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors, along with two parking lots.
According to Jack Dusinberre, a lawyer for one of the homeowners, the residents have several concerns, including how blasting will affect their homes.
“People are concerned about property damage,” said Dusinberre. “That damage may not even manifest itself directly after the blasting, but weeks or months or years down the road. It’s hard to tell.”
The proposed structure would take up much of the 1½ acres of land purchased by the developer. McEvoy said he believes that the property will be developed, but feels the plans are too severe, a point reflected by several variances for which the developer has applied.
“I believe someone is going to develop on the property,” said McEvoy. “I would like the development to befit the area on the property… I think this project could go on at lesser scale. They could preserve the [historic] house there. There are other uses for the house that could be very fitting in Verona.”
Dusinberre said the company doing the blasting has to have insurance to cover potential damage to homes. The company must inspect the potentially affected homes for free before and after construction; however, if damages become evident much later on, it could be difficult to link them to blasting.
Jack McEvoy, a contractor and home inspector who lives in the neighborhood, said the blasting, as it is presented in the plans, will last for a period of months.
“It’s going to affect the entire town,” he said. “It has to, at some point, close Bloomfield Avenue for some period of time that they haven’t said yet. What does that do with surrounding businesses in a time where most of them are struggling already?”
Dusinberre said blasting is state regulated and the Board of Adjustment does not have the ability to rule regarding it. They may, however, require the developer to build a smaller structure by denying their variance applications, which would diminish the need for as much blasting and tree removal.
“Ultimately,” said Dusinberre, “they are entitled to build something on this lot. Right now, what they’re planning to build is too big and too expansive for this lot.”
Dusinberre added that if the developer agreed to make the building smaller, that would lessen the demand for parking and thus remove the need to uproot so many trees.
Lawyer Alan Trembulak, who is representing DMH2 LLC, told Patch he has been instructed by his client not to comment on the case to the media.
Representatives from DMH2 LLC also refused to comment.