Eagle Ridge denied by planning board

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:56

    WEST MILFORD — The town's planning board dealt another blow to K. Hovnanian's hope of building 280 town houses in West Milford. The board voted to deny Hovnanian an extension to their final site plan. Attorney Meryl Gonchar argued that the developer was entitled to an extension to its two year vested rights under mandatory state laws. Gonchar's basis for her case was the Department of Environmental Protection's hindrance in granting Hovnanian a water allocation permit. This permit is the final hurdle to building homes on the Cahill Cross site referred to as Eagle Ridge. On Sept. 6 DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell denied Hovnanian's water permit on the basis of uncertain water resources to meet the demands of the new development and continue to serve the rest of the area. Gonchar argued that the delays caused by government agencies is the reason the builder needs the extension. Chairman of the Planning Board Michael Tfank said, "The word ‘delayed' is what jumps out at me. We are not in a delay situation, we are in a denial. You are asking for an extension based on a delay …from what we have seen from the DEP they have denied your water allocation permit." Athough the DEP did deny the water permit, Hovnanian appealed it and is currently awaiting the New Jersey Appellate court to rule on the application. Attorney for the board Stephen Glatt reminded the board that they could face court action if this application for an extension was rejected without good cause. Board member James O'Bryant asked Gonchar whether the extension application was irrelevant in the face of the denial. Gonchar responded saying, "We believe that the Appellate Division will overturn that decision. That's what we are proceeding on. If you are correct then a one year extension or a ten year extension won't make a difference." Elcavage moved to deny the permit and was met with the agreement of all but one on the board, Steve Castronova, who voted against the denial. There is now the possibility, as raised by Glatt, that Hovnanian could now initiate legal proceedings against the planning board as a result of this decision. Gonchar was asked for her reaction to the denial but said, "There is really nothing more I'd want to say right now. Our position is clear in the newspapers."