Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rehabilitating an Abandoned Factory

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Abraham Lincoln

For many years along Estling Lake Road, there has been an abandoned factory.  It has been a constant eyesore for the neighborhood.  As well, it has attracted vandalism, trespassing and environmental issues.

I personally have always been a proponent of cleaning up areas like these.  A proposal came forward to rehabilitate the area through a state program that benefits Denville greatly.


It was an eyesore.
Abandoned, prone to vandalism and an environmental disaster.

It would have never been a park.
The area was zoned for industrial use.  Meaning another factory or industrial facility could relocate there will very little the town or neighborhood could say about it.  I personally don't think we need 100+ employees commuting to that small road and building.  I don't think we need trucks operating 24-hours a day at that location.  And the way it was currently zoned, that could have happened.


Remaning zoned for industrial is not an option.  Another industrial plant in that location would be far worse.  By doing nothing, an industrial plant could open there with little restrictions.

It allows for greater environmental cleanup.
Zoning for residential use forces the area to be cleaned to a higher environmental standard.  If we kept it industrial, the requirements for environmental cleanup are less.  Having this area cleaned is crucial for the neighborhood and the surrounding waterways.

It allows for an access road to be constructed.
There is only one way in and out of Estling Lake Road blocked by a train line.  And when there is a major crisis like a fire or a major storm that blocks that road, there is no way for emergency vehicles to get through.  By choosing to be part of this state rehabilitation project, we are able to receive money from the developer that can be specifically used for neighborhood improvements.  An access road is a tremendous cost.  There would be no way Denville could afford this without being part of this program.  As well, if this area was kept "industrial", a factory could have moved in adding the same amount of traffic (if not more) but no access road would be created.  This would be a huge loss and danger

Residents take pride in neighborhoods
Again it would be ideal to just have a nice open park in the area but that will never be possible.  It was zoned industrial.  A small residential development is the best option.  I believe having residents living in this high-end apartments will provide neighbors who care more about their surroundings that workers who just come to the area for their industrial job.

An OPTION for the neighborhood to have a sewer hookup
Since a residential development will be constructed there will be a sewer line run to the property for the development.  This also means that area residents can choose to hook up to this line without having a tax assesement for installation of the main line to the area.

Tax Deferment Pays Denville More in the Long Run
As part of this program, Denville will grant the delay of certain taxes to the developer.  However, this doesn't mean a tax break or any kind of favoritism.  It is in a way "a payment program" that actually generates more money for Denville in the long run.   Because of the State rehabilitation program we are able to defer the property tax until further along the development.   However, the taxes which will Denville receives are much greater later, generating a much higher ratable for this property which provides Denville funding for Denville's resources down the line.

A complex with low impact to our schools
This development is only about 100 units and catered towards commuter rental.  That demographic usually means a low impact of added children to our schools, thus adding a burden on our school system.  Years ago, there was a developer that wanted to build nearly 400 unit along the hill.  This is the best option for  development and will keep another worse development from being constructed.

COAH benefits
The development counts towards state requirements for affordable housing.

Obviously, with any decision like this, there is not a perfect solution but weighing the risks vs. benefits I support this rehabilitation program.  I find the benefits are much greater than the risks but acknowledge those risks must be carefully monitored.  As stated, this can't stay an abandoned factory and I don't feel another industrial plant is appropriate either.  There have been large residential developments proposed in the past for this property.   But this one is much smaller and will help prevent large obstructions like that from being at this location.  As well, being able to put a much needed emergency access road could never help without this rehabilitation program and development.


So in summary, 1) the abandoned facade has to go 2) the environment has to be cleaned  3) the only way to get an access road was this development 4) the best way to provide a sewer option was this 5) an newer industrial plant is also not an option 6) waiting for a larger residential project is not an option and 7) doing nothing is not an option