Flood Solution Group Appeals Dam Jurisdiction Decision
The Hillsdale & Westwood Flood Solution Group is seeking to lessen flooding along the Pascack Brook by having United Water change their dam operations and upcoming dam project at the Woodcliff Lake Reservoir.
Local residents seeking an end to chronic flooding have filed an appeal of a judge's ruling that Hillsdale's ordinances could not affect an upcoming Woodcliff Lake Dam project.
In the appeal filed with the Superior Court in Trenton Monday, attorney Donald MacLachlan for the Hillsdale & Westwood Flood Solution Group wrote that the New Jersey Safe Dams Act and Water Supply Management Act do not preempt Hillsdale's authority to have the dam project reviewed by its planning board, despite a decision from a judge last month which ruled the opposite.
The state Municipal Land Use Law allows towns to create ordinances "for the preservation of the public health, safety and welfare of the municipality, its residents and its citizens," MacLachlan wrote.
Hillsdale had previously sought to have United Water, the company which owns the dam, bring their plans before the planning board for review because of concerns on the potential impact the project could have on flooding along the Pascack Brook, which flows out of the Woodcliff Lake Reservoir. The state is requiring United Water to double the rate at which water can flow out of the reservoir in order to prevent the dam from breaking in a tremendous storm.
After Judge Alexander Carver ruled in United Water's favor last month, Hillsdale officials voted against pursuing an appeal of the decision. Mayor Max Arnowitz said then that his concerns over flooding had been alleviated by a report about the project and that he was reluctant to spend $40,000 or $60,000 more on litigation he expected would not reduce flooding.
MacLachlan said he believed the local property owners affected by repeated flooding "deserve more from their government." The Flood Solution Group has maintained that a combination of changes to United Water's dam plan and changes in the way the dam is operated could reduce flooding in the brook.