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Final Approval for Revised Landmark Plan

After reviewing a revised plan to more fully integrate the affordable housing units in Landmark's Daly Field development, the Planning Board gave its final approval to the project in a vote Monday night.

With a reluctance that has become a recurring theme in its acceptance of the Landmark proposal to construct 165 housing units on Daly Field in Radburn, the Fair Lawn Planning Board gave a final nod of approval to the developer’s revised plan Monday night.

Throughout the process, the board had been restricted in the issues on which it could judge the proposal. In a builder’s remedy suit, Landmark successfully argued in court that the development, 20 percent of which consists of affordable housing units, would help Fair Lawn meet its state affordable housing requirements.

Opponents of the development, however, argued that Landmark had not integrated the affordable units “to the extent feasible,” as required by ordinance. In its November approval of the project, the board required among its conditions that a revised plan be submitted that integrated the 33 affordable units, originally clustered in two buildings at the back of the lot, more fully into the plan.

“Notwithstanding all the reasons we gave why we didn’t think it was appropriate, we went back to the drawing board and found a way to do this,” Ron Shimanowitz, the developer’s attorney, told the board as Landmark presented its plan Monday night.

The revised plan moves 9 units from the back of the lot into a building along Plaza Road, relocating five of the market rate units in their place. Experts associated with the developer testified that the revisions did not substantially change the traffic issues that the board has previously considered.

“We still have the same number of units,” Landmark’s traffic engineer Eric Keller testified. “There is no material change by moving the affordable units to Plaza Road.”

“It’s my belief that it’s pretty apparent that the integration, architecturally, has happened pretty smoothly,” added architect Robert Larsen. “There is not a significant difference in the look of the building.”

No new variances are needed for the revised plan, leaving nothing within the planning board’s jurisdiction other than the murky question of whether the developer had integrated the affordable units to the “extent feasible” required by ordinance. Opponents of the project asserted that Landmark had not, pointing out that 24 of the 33 affordable units still remained at the back of the lot.

“By submitting its new plan, Landmark has proven that it is absolutely feasible to integrate the affordable units into the balance of the development,” Joel Rosen, attorney for the grassroots citizens group Neighbors to Save Daly Field, said in a statement. “However...they have still left over 75 percent of those units along the railroad tracks, without any legal justification for doing so.”

The integration of affordable units has been a sticking point for opponents, they say, because Landmark won consideration for its proposal by demonstrating that it would help Fair Lawn comply with affordable housing laws.

“They started the builder’s remedy lawsuit against this borough in order to assist the borough in meeting its affordable housing requirement. Let them do it in accordance with the ordinance,” Rosen said.

But the board did not push further on what all agreed is a subjective standard, and granted approval to what board member Larry Metzger called “the most difficult application that’s ever come before the board.”

“I would have to say they’ve gone about as far as they could with everything we’ve asked them to do,” he said. “They’ve made the effort. I’m not thrilled with this but...I would have to vote yes because it seems this is as far as they will go.”

Other board members echoed his ambivalence, noting that the board had succeeded in attaching several conditions to the project as well as reducing the size of the initial proposal from 200 units to 165. But board members agreed that they had already pushed as far as they legally could.

Chairman Brent Pohlman said that with the vague standard for integration, denial by the board on such a basis would likely have been overturned in court after costly litigation. “I do not think that we can make the taxpayers of Fair Lawn be guinea pigs in determining what that standard is,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Ed Trawinski, who sits on the board, compared its near year-long undertaking on the development to making lemonade, not from lemons, but from grapefruit—amending the old analogy to illustrate the board’s limited legal options in making a project many of them had opposed palatable.

“I think the applicant has gone as far as we’ve asked the applicant to go on this,” he said. “It’s far from lemonade. But let’s face it, this whole project is far from lemonade.”

“I support it knowing that it is impossible to make lemonade out of grapefruits.”

Sheryl Cashin January 15, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Yup...can't wait for the center of town to be traffic jammed even more than now. Looking forward to over crowded schools once again....but don't worry folks, the taxpayer will pick up the tab for that! And who cares that the area floods. Won't be the problem for those Radburnites who want to see the fourth neighborhood. Only a problem for the homeowners that live next to and across from it. Who cares about them anyway? As long as the builder and part of Radburn does the happy dance, the rest of us just have to suck it up. God..I do miss the Fair Lawn of long ago. Ya know, when things and people mattered.
Walter Weglein January 15, 2013 at 04:07 PM
aahh, but think of all the millions more Radburn will have to throw around on its lawyer and other toys...so let Stu and all of us convene at the Dutch House and celebrate...
Phil Jonas January 15, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Chairman Brent Pohlman said that with the vague standard for integration, denial by the board on such a basis would likely have been overturned in court after costly litigation. “I do not think that we can make the taxpayers of Fair Lawn be guinea pigs in determining what that standard is,” he said. Do you hear that Radburn??
fair January 15, 2013 at 04:52 PM
why wouldnt the affordable units be located in the back, wouldnt that make sense. id be mad if i was spending more money on a front unit than my neighbor. saying you can live in FL at a cheaper price use our school systems and all our services however you will not get the most desirable unit avaliable, sounds pretty fair to me. its kind of like buying a discount can of soup because the can is dented. you are still getting the quality of whats inside the can, it just may not be as pretty as the other cans. walter and sheryl, once these units are complete what happens if there is no noticable difference in town? what if theres not a noticable difference in traffic, and no additional flooding. will you guys apoligize for making this project drag on wasting lots of money?
Mayor Goldie Wilson January 15, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Private property conveyed in a lawful manner and developed in accordance with borough ordinances and court mandates? Outrages! Clearly costly litigation to argue matters that have been definitively settled many times is the only answer! Mayor Goldie Wilson's team of lawyers can be here immediately. Vote Goldie Wilson for Mayor! I'm gonna clean up this town!
Walter Weglein January 15, 2013 at 06:43 PM
I may have no trouble eating a dented can of soup...I don't think I'd have the stomach to live in one, even in Fair Lawn...
Deleted because of harassment January 15, 2013 at 09:12 PM
Does not matter what is good for the community, the schools or the suckers that buy into that future ghetto of "linear parks" and cars parked half a mile from their rental appartments. Someone with connections made money, and all of the residents of Fair Lawn are going to be paying it out via taxes, via loss of quality of life, overcrowded schools, and increased flooding into homes. And those that buy those units better plan on turning them over quickly once the vapor intrusion becomes an issue.... Not only does this represent government failure at it's heart, it represents failure to lawfully protect the interests of the public against the interests of those with reserves of money to litigate the law to their ends. Can't wait to see what the next developer decides to build, but for most of us, this is probably the clue that it won't be an improvement to the lives of those of us who invested into this town.
Stuart Pace January 15, 2013 at 09:31 PM
oh Walter, where we you when they built the townhomes by me on Hirschklau Place??? And where was your outrage? Probably in your high back chair reading the newspaper. Cheers.
Walter Weglein January 15, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Stu..I got the impression everybody welcomed Hirschklau Place because they hated the Foster garages back there...
BellairBerdan January 15, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Segregation now, segregation forever!?
MissUnderstood January 16, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Fair Lawn will never be the same, a bleak future is all I can say!
fair January 16, 2013 at 02:35 PM
segregation? dont think so, segregation would be if they were paying the same equal price but got an unequal apartment. this is actually more like reverse segregation.
Deleted because of harassment January 16, 2013 at 03:24 PM
"fair" just proved that they have no comprehension of what segregation is. Placing units to be sold to people with lower income is a accute example of segregation based upon the stigma associated with those people. It has nothing to do with the price of the units and everything to the perceived undesirability of the people living in them. I think in permitting the segregation of these units to a cluster in an unsoundproofed building next to the railroad tracks that is deemed to be of less price than other units, Fair Lawn has set itself up to be sued as a partner in discriminatory housing practices, not under COAH, but under EHA (Federal) rules which are more explicit than COAH.
Deleted because of harassment January 16, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Julia needs to stop her cat from speaking for her on the internet.
BellairBerdan January 16, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Jim Crow wasn't ant better.
Stuart Pace January 16, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Just wondering why you weren't there Walter? That's all. Best to Jessica.
Deleted because of harassment January 16, 2013 at 03:47 PM
This is not about "staying the same". It's about rational, safe development that enhances the community and serves the community's needs. There is nothing in this proposal that improves any aspect of the community. It does not provide jobs, or improve an existing neighborhood. It will increase some of the most negative aspects of the community, and do so at a detriment to the existing housing on a multitude of levels. from increasing the hazard of the proximate pollution without protection for the inhabitants, to decreasing any dilution of the underlaying pool of toxins by natural processes while increaing ground saturation in the proximate homes, increase the population density and sprawl, the traffic, municipal services, the cost to the school district, and deteriorate an already overcrowded municipal center. And ir does this while segregating portions of the property is claimed was intended to remedy a lack of housing in the community while removing dedicated open space and defeating the design and intent of a national historic landmark. The twenty storey tower that Landmark used as a bogeyman to manipulate the law and the planning board would have been at least an improvement to the site and a fairer use of the housing law.
fair January 16, 2013 at 04:49 PM
wow you guys are something else. paying the same price for a bus ticket but having to sit in the back is segregation. paying less for an apartment in a less desirable section of the building is perfectly reasonable and gives a family with lower income the opportunity to live in a town w/ a good school system that they would not have if there was no affordable units.
Michael Roney January 16, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Actually, I don't remember Brent saying that it would be overturned -- only that the law was very ambiguous and he didn't want to make the taxpayers of Fair Lawn guinea pigs.
Jules Vernon January 16, 2013 at 09:02 PM
I would like to know if there is any possibility of taking civil action against Walter and Sheryl and other members of the anti-development cabal so that we can recover the wasted money.
BellairBerdan January 17, 2013 at 03:31 AM
fair, let's say wealthy families bought the homes surrounding yours. They paid more for their homes than you did for yours. Wouldn't it be fair to move you to an area of Fair Lawn where the people were of the same social strata? You can still get all the amenities of Fair Lawn just your neighborhood wouldn't be as nice. Shouldn't those wealthy families be mad that you get to stay in your home when they paid more for theirs?
Stuart Pace January 17, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Deleted, you are aware that the Kodak property sold its Senior Affordable housing committment to the Kem Property development? At least Landmark didn't sell its obligation and put all the seniors near the river. So, the fact that they are not integrating "every" affordable unit into the entire project is a non factor in my opinion. At least they didn't sell the affordables to the "forgotten" development.
fair January 17, 2013 at 07:06 PM
hahaa bellairberdan that is a horrible analogy. if wealthy people were my neighbors they would probably renovate their homes if thats what they chose to do with their money. obviously i wouldnt be kicked out of a house i owned. however a wealthy person may offer me a lot of money to buy my house so they can move into that neighborhood. if someone wants to move to a home in Fair Lawn and dont have a lot of money they buy a house next to a rail road track, or buy a house that is close to 208, those are sacrifices they make to live in FL. No one forces them to move there it is their choice and the houses location makes it "affordable" for them. apartments should not be treated any different... and money shouldnt be wasted in court rooms fighting something so silly.
fair January 17, 2013 at 07:08 PM
bellair my politic views lean pretty liberal. but it is extremes like you that are tearing this country apart. people like you and the extreme tea baggers on the other side are the problem. hopefully soon their will be a third party in the middle willing to work together and use common sense.
BellairBerdan January 17, 2013 at 11:33 PM
fair, I realize you're really into segregation and you think I am an extreme liberal because I am not. It wouldn't be difficult to make a less expensive townhouse next to a more expensive one in new construction. What they are doing is creating a ghetto. Placing them all together so it will make it easier to give them less services than the other homes. That doesn't serve to uplift those residents or make the rest of Fair Lawn better. I suppose we can argue over how much more desirable an apartment 500 ft from a railroad track is than one 20 feet. But I don't agree with your thinking that they should be happy to live in Fair Lawn so long as they and everyone else always knows they are thought to be less than their neighbors.
es January 18, 2013 at 01:32 AM
You've pointed out another way that developers game the system in their favor, by using the "hammer" of threatened litigation or horsetrading after approvals are received. There has to be a better way to support affordable housing without the adversarial process that benefits developers and attorneys at the expense of the citizens. BTW, no priority for seniors has been offered by Landmark. es, RCA pres
Deleted because of harassment January 18, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Neither one of these is "forgotten" -- they just happen to be in the "We don't really care what you do there" part of Fair Lawn. We don't have the temples, or the political clout, and if it detroys the value of our properties to have hundreds of apartments all spewing children into Westmoreland and traffic jaming us into inertia, and the one last community amenity turned into a skate park that no one on the other side of town wants...well, that's what happens here. Seniors in cluster housing next to the river is the least of our worries. I can't get out of my own neighborhood NOW, as it is, unless it's after 10 at night, when the gangs from Paterson who are now tagging one of the buildings are hanging out. At least I feel vindicated that the tatoo parlor got screwed like the rest of the neighbors. Between KEM and Kodak and god know what is going to happen to Clarient, the pollution plume (also "forgotten") that is intruding into the residental area, and the fact that it's clear the only wanted business is nail salons, banks, deli's and stores with completely blocked windows, the writing is on the wall for Fair Lawn, and it's not going to end as long as their are political appointments made to score points for the parties and not for the residents. The day my younger one graduates, the for sale sign will be on the lawn while I can still sell my house. When you start charging hundreds of dollars for water to hide a tax increase, it's time to head elsewhere.
Sheryl Cashin January 20, 2013 at 05:07 AM
Jules Vernon ~ First of all, I do not live in Radburn anf for that I'm thankful. And by the way in case you forgot, it is part of FAIR LAWN. I speak as a concerned resident. This 4th neighborhood will affect all of us for the the reasons I stated earlier. If you feel you want to take civil action against me or anyone else who disagrees with this nightmare, then by all means go right ahead. As long as I am paying my taxes, and this will cost all of us more in services, I will say whatever I please. If you have a problem with that then I suggest you make a consultation appointment with your attorney ASAP!
brian January 21, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Over the years Fair Lawn gets closer to being Garfield.
Deleted because of harassment January 22, 2013 at 07:29 PM
When and if the Walmart opens in Hawthorne, it will be Garfield. With higher taxes.


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