As most residents are aware, North Caldwell has considerable drainage issues. These include Walker’s Pond and the Reserve at North Caldwell. We do not believe the Borough is properly handling the drainage issues at either of these sites. Further, we believe that a Borough wide drainage crisis exists and requires the attention of all residents.
At the May 28, 2019 Council meeting, Ted testified that the Borough’s ongoing drainage study should be completed within 180 days. Kevin O’Sullivan, the Borough’s Administrator, has confirmed this deadline and is working with Suburban Consulting Engineers, the Borough’s chosen vendor for this study. Ted also requested that the study be amended to include the Walker’s Pond site. It goes without saying that residents suffering from drainage issues each time it rains anxiously await those results.
At the May meeting, Ted also stated that Borough residents have the right to be shown the results of this drainage study before any portion of the Walker’s Pond property is sold to a builder or developer. The study should be posted on the Borough website prominently when it is completed. While our team certainly understands the desirable financial offset that would likely occur with the sale of these lots, we need to make sure a sale makes sense on all levels before moving forward haphazardly and putting the town in an unanticipated situation. For instance, we want to ensure that dredging the pond will not cause harmful chemicals to become airborne or allow unhealthy algae buildup in the pond. Furthermore, we believe an independent engineer, on behalf of the residents, needs to step in and oversee the Borough’s compliance with New Jersey’s Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act. Voters should also have access to due diligence results BEFORE they are asked to vote on a public question related to an Open Space Tax for Walker’s Pond on the November ballot. (click here to read the proposed referendum in item 9(a)(11) on the 8/13/19 meeting agenda).
Also, numerous North Caldwell homes have been flooded since Pulte razed the once tree-studded landscape adjacent to Hilltop Reservation to build homes at the Reserve at North Caldwell. We are deeply concerned that this issue is not being addressed adequately by the Borough and its third-party professional(s). In addition to the drainage crisis is the question of structural damage that exists on the detention basins that Pulte built. This is a life safety issue and needs to be addressed immediately. There have also been questions raised by residents about Pulte’s excavation of wetlands without the appropriate New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection approval or permits.
Pulte needs to properly address these civil and structural deficiencies. Residents need to be assured that proper supervision and oversight is being documented by outside professionals. Those results should be made immediately available to all residents. The burden of remedying the damage caused by the drainage crisis should not be left at the feet of individual homeowners. The Borough must take action on behalf of its residents.
Our team is acutely aware that flooding and drainage issues are NOT limited to the areas surrounding Hilltop and Walker’s Pond. On the contrary, we have routinely conversed with old and new friends about the damage and costs associated with implementing their personal drainage solutions. From Squire Hill Road to Aspen Drive to Hamilton Drive, residents have been forced to undertake their own mechanisms, be it a hose leading from a swampy backyard or tens of thousands of dollars paid to a contractor to redirect the flow of water, to correct this Borough wide issue. In our opinion, without a comprehensive study and ensuing plan of action, the Borough is privatizing a public problem. This won’t show up on the tax rolls, but it shows up in your depleted bank accounts.
Lastly, in the face of all the issues mentioned above, there is no rational basis for the Council’s proposed ordinance (click here to read the ordinance) increasing allowable impervious coverage for property along Bloomfield Avenue. “Impervious coverage” is any type of man-made or stone surface that doesn’t absorb rainfall. The proposed ordinance increases allowable impervious coverage from 30% to 80% - yet the Zoning Board recently denied an application for development in that zone that had proposed 79% impervious coverage. The Council must explain its rationale for this and other aspects of the proposed ordinance at the August 13 special meeting.
This is clearly a critical time for residents and their properties. Anthony & Ted look forward to seeing you at the August 13, 2019 special meeting at 6:30 pm.
If you cannot attend the meeting and want Anthony and Ted to share your questions and concerns, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments. Make sure to provide your address in the email.
Paid for by Floria-Callori and Roth for North Caldwell Council
4 Chestnut Hill Road, North Caldwell, NJ 07006