Honeywell II : First public hearing for new redevelopment in Morris Township, July 21

On Monday, Morris Township residents will get their first chance to hear from the new re-developers of the Honeywell tract.

The Honeywell site in Morris Township. Photo: Google Earth.

The Honeywell site in Morris Township. Photo: Google Earth.

RG-Columbia LLC, an affiliate of the Rockefeller Group Development Corp., will appear before the planning board on July 21, 2014, at 7:30 pm, to discuss its proposal for 900,000 square feet of office and lab space and 235 townhouses on the 147-acre tract on Columbia Road.

The hearing is on a  “general development plan”   that outlines the project.  A formal submission to the planning board is expected later this year, according to township Administrator Tim Quinn.

“This is the first step in the review process and we look for the community to become involved in the analysis of this important plan for the Morris Township community,” Mayor Bruce Sisler said in a statement last month.

Community involvement led to Honeywell’s decision last year to leave the Township, where it has been a fixture since World War II. The township’s largest employer announced it would move its headquarters and 1,000 jobs to Morris Plains by 2015.

The move was a response to two years of opposition and legal challenges from Citizens for Better Planning in Morris Township Inc., which succeeded in getting Honeywell’s initial mixed-use redevelopment plan scaled down but unsuccessfully accused township officials of spot zoning.

Honeywell intends to maintain a presence on the campus, with 185,000 square feet of the total proposed office and lab space.

Per an agreement with Honeywell, RG-Columbia  is the master developer and K. Hovnanian Homes will develop the housing portion of the site, including 24 affordable units under the present plan.

The project would bring $1.5 million in new taxes to the township, with nearly two-thirds of the money benefiting the Morris School District, according to The Daily Record. The paper reported that affordable housing units would range from $110,000 to $132,000, while other townhouses would list for between $544,900 and $799,000.

“We are pleased that this property will not be vacant and the new commercial and residential components will strengthen the Township’s fiscal stability,” Mayor Sisler in June.

In the prior round of Honeywell redevelopment talks, Sisler, another committeeman and two planning board members recused themselves to avoid the appearance of conflict. Sisler is chief of staff for state Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R-25th Dist.), who sponsored a measure creating tax incentives for Honeywell to stay in New Jersey.

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