PSE&G Site Environmental Cleanup Completed, Amended Site Plan Approved

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The environmental cleanup at the PSE&G site at Springfield Avenue and Boyden Avenue in Maplewood is complete, as per state requirements, Mayor Vic DeLuca recently reported.

In addition, an amended site plan for the development of the property into a 235-unit rental housing development was approved by the Maplewood Planning Board on March 10, pending a final review by the Springfield Avenue Partnership design committee (details to come in a separate story).

Regarding environmental cleanup, DeLuca shared a letter (see below) from the licensed site remedial professional — Joseph Chiapetta of Petro Scince Inc. — that has been filed with the State DEP, stating that “it is my professional opinion that this remediation has been completed in compliance with the Administrative Requirements for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites (N.J.A.C. 7:26C).” Chiapetta further explains, “This remediation includes the completion of a Site Investigation, Remedial Investigation and Remedial Action” as defined by state law.

Parke Place LLC, which is joint venture of JMF Properties and Eden Properties, was responsible for conducting the site cleanup, said DeLuca, as it currently has the contract to buy the property from PSE&G. Once Parke Place LLC closes with PSE&G, they will sell to Maplewood Urban Renewal LLC, a company formed by Avalon Bay Communities Inc. to develop the site, said DeLuca.

The news of ownership during cleanup should be comforting to members of the public who spoke at a recent Township Committee meeting  raising concerns against Avalon Bay. In particular, Mary Clurman, who lives within two blocks of the Avalon Bay site in Princeton, brought a letter signed by a number of neighbors explaining their frustration with Avalon Bay’s “lack of response” to their concerns about environmental contaminants as well as what Clurman called its plan to use “untreated rubble” from the hospital walls for project infill without the standard amount of topsoil or considering the optimum solution of removal.

“It’s amazing to me that this developer is able to continue to develop sites anywhere in this country given their record on fire and contaminants,” said Clurman told the Township Committee on Feb. 17.

Regarding the PSE&G site cleanup, DeLuca said that the soil is clean and the ground water will be monitored as there is one contaminant that is still above state standards on a quarterly basis until it meets state standards.

At the March 10 Planning Board meeting, Avalon Bay senior vice president Ron Ladell repeated his statement from February that the company would install more sprinklers throughout the proposed building, including in the attics and closets and between ceilings and floors and also would install masonry firewalls, which aren’t currently required by state law for high density, wood-frame buildings. An Avalon Bay owned and managed property in Edgewater suffered a devastating fire in January; questions have been raised about fire safety at other Avalon Bay projects.

Regarding the tangled web of site ownership, DeLuca explained that all agreements (the financial agreement and redevelopment agreement) are “with Avalon Bay because they are the ultimate purchaser.” Avalon Bay will not close on the sale until the town passes the financial and redevelopment agreements.

The Township Committee will be voting on a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, ordinance for the property after a public hearing on March 17 (the PILOT was introduced at the March 3 TC meeting). The Committee will also vote on the redevelopment agreement for the property as a resolution on March 17.

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