Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

55 Suez Acres to Be Set Aside, Kept for Conservation

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

55 Suez Acres to Be Set Aside, Kept for Conservation

Article excerpt

HARRINGTON PARK - Although the Planning Board is hearing plans to develop part of the 65-acre Suez property in Harrington Park, 55 acres have been set aside for conservation and will not be developed. Allegro is in the process of getting approval for a subdivision of the property to build a 177-unit senior housing development on 9.2 acres.

Hearings on the senior housing have been underway, with the next slated for May. 9.

If the subdivision is permitted, the rest of the property could never be be parceled off and developed, officials said. The land has been in a conservation easement since early in 2009 as a part of a settlement. Billie Gallo, a spokesperson for Suez, said the company will continue to own the remaining acreage but there won't be any changes, as the property remains subject to the current conservation easement, meaning it can't be developed or sold. The land, owned by United Water - now Suez - in Harrington Park, borders the Oradell Reservoir and falls under the Watershed Protection and Moratorium Act, which protects public water supplies.

The Watershed Protection and Moratorium Act (1988 and amended in 1990) established a temporary stop to the transfer of any watershed property to give the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) time to study and establish appropriate buffer zones for public water reservoirs. The original moratorium was set for 18 months, but the Legislature extended it until the DEP could set regulations for the protection of watershed property. To date, the DEP has not set those rules, so the moratorium remains in effect. In the meantime, the act established the Watershed Property Review Board to review all requests for access to watershed properties of any land utilized for the purpose of the protection of a public water supply, said Larry Hajna of the DEP.

In early 2000s, a developer in Rivervale bypassed the Watershed Property Review Board and acquired a permit from the DEP to cross conservation land and to hook into a sewer on a Bergen County Utility Authority easement behind Poplar Road, Hackensack Riverkeeper Bill Sheehan explained. …

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