Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hillsdale Residents Fight Rule on Dam

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Hillsdale Residents Fight Rule on Dam

Article excerpt

The Hillsdale and Westwood Flood Solution Group will appeal a court decision that allows United Water to move forward with plans to repair the Woodcliff Lake Dam -- a move that stands in stark contrast to its former partner in the suit, which won't fight the ruling.

Bergen County Superior Court Judge Alexander Carver, who has since retired, ruled Aug. 1 that Hillsdale does not have the authority to impose its Planning Board ordinances over United Water, which maintains and operates the dam. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has authority over the utility, Carver ruled.

United Water sued Hillsdale in June 2012, after the borough passed ordinances intended to bring the utility in front of its Planning Board to review the site plans. The flood solution group, led by attorney Donald MacLachlan and composed of more than 100 families from Hillsdale and Westwood that live along the Pascack Brook and experience frequent flooding, intervened in the case. The group also has been trying to change how United Water operates the dam to prevent downstream flooding.

"Our group intends to do what we can do to stand up for the rights of Hillsdale citizens to have this project reviewed," MacLachlan said.

Hillsdale officials decided not to appeal.

According to the notice to appeal, which was filed Monday, the court's opinion overstated the reach of the acts it cited to give DEP control over the utility and did not consider the issues that Hillsdale or the interveners raised. The group also thinks that local law can co-exist with state law, and local authorities should also have a say in the project's evaluation.

United Water Director of Communications Steve Goudsmith said the utility will "rigorously defend our position."

"[We] are confident that the court of appeals will rule in our favor, as did the original court," Goudsmith said Tuesday. …

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