Bridgewater is pulling out of the Somerset County Business Partnership over the group’s support of a redevelopment project.
“Bridgewater is a vibrant place that attracts many people and businesses wanting to become a part of our community. We are thankful that this is the case, however, periodically there are projects that can become problematic,” Mayor Matt Moench said. “The current leadership of the Partnership seemed to be more interested in assisting a development company’s interests than the legitimate concerns of our residents and taxpayers who will live with the significant increase in traffic on roads that are already overburdened.”
The Center for Excellence project, which was approved by Bridgewater’s planning board before Moench took office last month, would include 400 multi-family units, a Shoprite and a 124-room hotel.
Moench and his fellows opposed the project over fears that it would exacerbate traffic in the area.
“We applauded and participated in many of the successes achieved by the Partnership. However, over the past several years, our objectives have diverged especially over the Partnership’s strident support of the Center of Excellence Development,” Council President Howard Norgalis said. “As proposed, this project is far too large for the site and was inconsistent with the Town Council’s development goals for that location.”
Norgalis said the business group ignored entreaties to slow down the project, which will need a council-approved redevelopment agreement to move forward.
“We have pleaded to Partnership leadership to ‘dial back’ their support for COE but our protests seemed to only strengthen their support of the project,” Norgalis said. “Therefore, Bridgewater Township will not be renewing our membership.”