By Victor Milani
Last week, Spitzer and Northfield Center entered into a Memorandum Of Understanding (M.O. U.) concerning the heavily debated parcel on Rt. 8/82. The agreement changes the zoning from residential (which Northfield Center wanted to remain) to commercial usage for Spitzer, the landowner to develop. Public debates, heated at times, indicated that Meijer was the company that wanted to occupy the parcel in question. Residents flocked to public meeting voicing their displeasure with such a zoning change, citing noise, garbage, traffic, lighting, and environment runoff issues and reasons to not allow the zoning. Residents on Beechwood, Cherry Lane etc. stated they bought and built their lifetime homes in that area without the fear of a big box retailer in their back yards, disturbing their quality of life. The Northfield Center Trustees listened initially to the outcry from the residents and denied that zoning change (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PREVIOUS STORY).
It was a defiant stand on the Trustees part to go against the wishes of Spitzer. However, when all the posturing and posing was over, the issues came down to three options.
The first option would be to: Enter into a long drawn out legal battle with Spitzer, that if Northfield Center lost (people in the know gave Northfield Center less than 50% chance of winning). This would cost Northfield Center millions of dollars in legal fees and penalties owed to Spitzer.
The second option would be: Macedonia could annex the property into Macedonia and garner all the revenue from the big box retailer. All Northfield Center would be left with was the traffic, noise etc, with nothing in return monetarily.
The third option which was agreed to was: Allow the change of zoning on 16 plus acres from the current residential to commercial usage, something Spitzer desired to develop and sell the property. The land would become part of the JEDD, with revenue being split between Northfield Center and Macedonia. Basically, Northfield Center was left with no option and made the best of what they viewed as a bad situation.
I read the M.O.U. and saw codicil #6 of the agreement:
Subject to the Court’s approval of the Consent Decree, Spitzer shall agree to make the following donations to the Township:
(a) Within forty (40) days of the trial court’s approval of the Consent Decree, Spitzer agrees to donate to the Township a 2019 Ford F-750 truck chassis for use as dump truck plus $56,000 cash. The dump truck’s standard tires will be replaced with the Goodyear M&S tires.
(b) Upon the sale by Spitzer of the re-zoned property, Spitzer shall donate an additional 2019 Ford F-750 truck chassis for the use as a snow plow, plus $50,000 cash. The dump truck’s standard tires will be replaced with the Goodyear M&S tires.
I was somewhat taken back with DONATION of two new Ford F750 trucks, one to be used as a dump truck, the other as a snow plow, from Spitzer to Northfield Center. The value of the two trucks ranges from $75,000 to $100,000 each. Northfield Center also will receive $106,000 cash in two payments, I assume the money will be used to retrofit each truck.
My phone rang off the hook with people claiming the DONATION was bribery involved between Northfield Center and Spitzer to agree to the change of zoning. A few people weighed in saying Northfield Center just got a good deal and should be applauded, as should Spitzer for donating to the community. I did inquire to a few law directors who said the agreement might give the wrong message. Spitzer and a Judge have to sign off on the agreement for it to be in effect. I’d like to hear your comments on the deal. Please take the time to read the Memo of Understanding in its entirety in the link found here.
Northfield Center Trustees could not comment on the MOU due to the matter still pending court approval.