An Open Letter To Councilmen Bruce Blakeman And Anthony D’Esposito
May 8, 2018
Thank you for taking the time last night to go over the proposed rezoning on the Woodmere Club property. One of the first things you mentioned was that we should please listen with an open mind and not rush to snap judgements of denial. I listened, I processed the information given, and I have some important questions.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the main takeaway point from the studies done by Cameron Engineering was that we should rezone the town area of the property to allow 20,000 square foot lots instead of the current zoning which would allow 6,000 square foot lots. I cannot speak for all residents of the Five Towns, but I feel that we were almost bullied to acquiesce to that rezoning because “if we allow nothing, the developer will sue us and get the 6,000 approved by a judge.” Leaving us with the one option — what is better for us, 285 new homes or 118 homes? Obviously we all can agree that the less development the better, but that in my opinion does not address the issue.
Early on in the evening you had stated that there is no possible way to widen the main roadways (primarily Broadway). During the main presentation the traffic issues that would be caused by adding any development were not addressed, the only mention was that 20,000 square foot lots would contribute less traffic than 6,000 square foot lots.
When we were in the breakaway sessions and brought up the fact that Broadway cannot handle its current traffic and adding any more would be horrendous and dangerous, we were told by several members of Cameron Engineering and politicians alike that once the developer submits his plans there will then be a traffic study to see what impact his development would have on current traffic problems and if it cannot be supported it will be denied!
This statement directly contradicts the previous statement that if we do nothing or allow nothing they will win and get their 285 houses. We as residents of the Five Towns know that any study will prove that the current roadways cannot handle the current car volume, so no matter how many houses the developer wants to build, there is no way an honest assessment of the roadway infrastructure would allow a development of any size to be added to our community.
From our viewpoint it seems as if approving zoning for 20,000 square foot lots is giving the developer the go ahead to build with our approval, based on studies performed on the local taxpayer’s dime! I can boldly say that the taxpayers would have preferred a study be done on our current traffic issues, not on a hypothetical of 20,000 versus 6,000.
If a study can be shown to prove what we all know: traffic is bad, nothing can be done to make it better, and it is a safety hazard to make it worse, then the developer would have no legal leg to stand on to sue for any sort of housing development. The burden of proof should be on the developer to show that what he wants to do will not negatively affect the current neighborhoods. We all know that is not possible, so why is it so important for you, our elected officials, to get us on board with the rezoning? Because of the lack of honesty and transparency of the issues regarding The Woodmere Club the past few years, how can you blame us for wondering if there is something going on behind our backs that would allow the developer to build if we do agree to the revised zoning you have proposed? We understand that you cannot push things off indefinitely, but why not wait to see what the developer wants, and then our studies and theirs can be based on more than hypotheticals?
There are many issues residents have with the new development, but I am only addressing the traffic issue for one main reason, it is irrefutable! We can all speculate on what a development will do to our real estate values, and everyone’s opinions are subjective. A developer can restructure the sewer system, keep green space for the wildlife, and propose solutions to the flooding, but there is no way to alleviate the traffic problems. There is no solution, no fix, no way to convince us that it will not make our streets impassible.
We listened to you, now please listen to us! There must be another option! You mentioned a district park and then brushed over any details, only saying you would support it if we wanted. What we want is to know more. Yes it will cost us money, but currently our tax money is being spent on things we don’t want, for example: all the money put towards the Cameron Engineering studies would have better served us going towards planning a park! I personally will offer to help with any work needed to figure out logistics on a district park. Please don’t let our beautiful Five Towns and quality of life go to waste so that a few people can make millions!
Thank you for your time,