Friday, March 31, 2006

EcoVillage a "Living Lab"

(Photo Courtesy EVI EcoVillage)
On April 6, Liz Walker, co-founder and director of
EcoVillage at Ithaca (EVI), will be in Princeton
talking about her experiences initiating, inspiring,
and living in one of the first and most fully-developed
ecovillage communities in the country.

EcoVillage at Ithaca:
A Case Study in Sustainable Community

Thursday evening, April 6 * 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
43 Maple Street in Princeton (Donation Requested)

EcoVillage at Ithaca is an award-winning "living laboratory" on 175 acres that integrates:

* A village of two cohousing communities with a vibrant, intergenerational mix of 160 people
* Organic, community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms
* Extensive land preservation
* Green building and site design
* Educational facilities
* Regional sustainability initiatives
* On-site employment opportunities

EVI has received extensive media attention, including
two PBS documentaries, CNN and NPR programs, and
articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street
Journal, Residential Architecture, American
Demographics, Mother Earth News, Green Horizon
Quarterly, and many other publications.

Hors d'oeuvres, dessert items, and refreshments will be served.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
For more information or to RSVP (or to make a
contribution if you can't attend) call Steve
at 609-443-6782 or email:
Please RSVP if you do plan to attend.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Boxed In

This lockbox heavy bench was photographed on Sunday, March 26, 2006. It is now a receptacle for flippers' key lockboxes. These flippers / investors are trying to sell their respective units in the building. Each lockbox represents a condo unit that is for sale or for rent. There are 47 lockboxes on this bench. The condo project is called Halstead at Dunn Loring. It is located in Northern Virginia (Washington, DC suburbs). The iron bench is located on the west side of the condo building. There are about 220 units in this condo building. Across the street, Merrilee Dr, there is the second phase of this condo complex being built. The building is located at 2655 Prosperity Avenue, Fairfax, VA.
From The Bubble Meter Blog

Heights vs Heights

Most locals are aware that the sector of Clifton nearest Upper Montclair has always been known as "Montclair Heights." Now Montclair has it's own version which is bound to lead to some confusion. Starting in April, Continental Properties is preparing to open a sales center for 19 ultra-luxurious townhomes in what some might call "The South End" off Harrison Avenue.Pricing has yet to be announced but according to the developers press release: "A VIP List of priority buyers is being assembled for the opening".

Monday, March 27, 2006

It's Getting Warmer

Before and After Photos of Montana's Disappearing Glaciers

Glacier Facts

About 10 percent of Earth's land is covered with glaciers.

During the last Ice Age, glaciers covered 32 percent of land.

Glaciers store about 75 percent of the world's fresh water.

Antarctic ice is more than 2.6 miles (4,200 meters) thick in some areas.

If all land ice melted, sea level would rise approximately 230 feet (70 meters) worldwide.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Zone Time

The Bloomfield Zoning Board is in for a busy week. The Board usually meets once a month, but two major controversial developments are in the works for the township in rare back to back meetings. The first, on Tuesday March 28, is the final presentation in the proposal to tear down the historic Broughton Home at 15 Church St. and replace it with 11 condos(see our earlier story below).

The second, on Thursday April 6, is the initial presentation of a 28 unit apartment complex next door to the Brookdale School on Broad St. Residents are invited to a special meeting, on Thursday March 30, to discuss how the proposed building
projectwill impact the neighborhood and our town. It starts at 7:30 atthe VFW Building,369 Broughton Avenue To confirm the April 6 Zoning Board meeting date, for
directions or more information: call 973-973-5127

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sprawl and Forest Cover

Development in northwestern New Jersey has caused less loss of forest cover than in southwestern New Jersey. This is one of the findings in the recent paper by Kristi MacDonald and Tom Rudel, from Rutgers’Cook College's Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources and the Department of Human Ecology, respectively. Titled "Sprawl and forest cover: what is the relationship?", the paper explains the difference by the fact that concern for protections of view sheds and the difficulties and hazards of building on slopes led northwestern municipalities to largely protect forested uplands at the price of increased housing cost for the area.
In southwestern municipalities the lack of "scenic amenities", as they term it, caused developers and towns to site primarily with convenience to major roads as a priority. This eliminated more equally forest and farmland, little of which was protected. The study also finds that some developed areas have gained modest amounts of forest cover in recent years.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Rates Holding Steady

Interest Rate Watch
30 yr fixed: 6.34%
15 yr fixed: 5.98%
1 yr adj: 5.37%

(U.S. Daily Averages)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Tree Free Woodman?

Present and future Views of Woodman Field Park. From Essex St.

There have been extended debates on Montclair’s Watercooler about a BOE plan to cut down most of the remaining trees adjacent to Woodman Field.
We just received this urgent message from Montclair’s environmental Diva, Pat Kenschaft:

A last ditch effort to save 30 trees, many over 100 years old, will be
at the the Board of School Estimates, which will meet this Wednesday
evening, March 22, at 7:30 PM at the Montclair Board of Education
building, 22 Valley Road, Montclair, on the second floor meeting room.
To avert this horror we will need a large turn-out, and some speakers.

The trees along Champlain Terrace are slated for murder to enlarge the baseball field…. Trees are our basic defense against both local pollution and climate change. They add enormously to the aesthetics of a town. Children already suffer too much from nature deficit disorder. Montclair citizens, both children and adults, need these trees.

The estimated cost is over a million dollars at a time when cost overruns are rampant and Montclair's School Board taxes are scheduled to go up 7% this year. That's roughly $100 per family for the baseball happiness of
about 125 students.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Feet First

Ever wondered how much "nature" your lifestyle requires? You're about to find out.

This Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard. After answering 15 easy questions you'll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to what other people use and to what is available on this planet.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Web Wise

According to Paul Bishop, manager of real estate research for the National Association of Realtors, a 2005 survey of home buyers conducted by the organization found that 24 percent of recent home buyers said they first discovered their home on the Internet—up from 11% in 2003 In 2003. 77 percent of those surveyed are using the Internet at some point in the homebuying process.

Other recent efforts by real estate outfits display an increasingly serious focus on the Web by the industry. In March, Century 21 has announced it would be the exclusive category sponsor of's "Open House" page, and run billboard ads with streaming video clips of the real estate related show.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Green Days for Greenways

As our lawns and parks begin to recover their color, many NJ towns and communities are springing forward with their efforts to increase greenbelts linking communities and towns in NJ. Greenways have sprouted in such towns as Teaneck, Rahway, Ridgefield, Kearny, Edison, and Camden. Many towns are linking their Greenways with the ultimate goal of linking to Greenways in neighboring states.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tree Huggers Welcome

The Hagey family observes most holidays and season changes with creativity and whimsey.
This was the crowning touch to their St. Patricks Day Decorations at 739 Broad St., Bloomfield.

Monday, March 13, 2006

It's Raining on the Floodplain

The Third River roars past Clark St. during heavy rains.

Many areas in NJ require FEMA subsidized flood insurance because of repeated flooding. Here’s a sensible approach from Bloomfield's Third RiverBank Association website.

Protecting and Restoring Floodplain.
Despite spending more than $25 billion on federal levees and dams, national flood losses continue to rise.

The reasons are clear: as new home developments are increasing the rate at which water moves off the landscape, into feeder streams, and towards our riverside communities. Poor land-use decisions have put more people at risk by allowing development in harm's way and by eliminating the natural flood control functions of wetlands and floodplains.

Some communities are charting a new course by relocating vulnerable homes and businesses, directing new development away from flood-prone areas, planting flood-tolerant crops and working with their upstream neighbors to protect and restore wetlands and floodplains throughout their river basin.

In addition to permanently eliminating the threat of future flooding, alternatives like relocation and watershed management meet other needs of riverside communities: improved water quality, better access for river-based recreation, and improved habitat for river wildlife. Dozens of programs are available.

for more info:

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Big Four O

With rates on the rise, the Interest Only Loan is on the decline.
What’s the next alternative to make homes more affordable?
It may be the 40 year mortgage, according to Realty Times.

These long-term loans could, in fact, improve cash flow by lowering monthly payments. And they might even qualify more borrowers. The downside is that they build equity at a slower rate. They’re not yet available everywhere, but a Google search is already showing 1,200,000 references to these loans

Friday, March 10, 2006


Spring is close at hand. It's getting warm enough to get out and about and explore the open spaces around us. Northern NJ is still a long way from being paved over.

Mar 12 (Sun): Social Hike at Jockey for outdoor Hollow: 10am. Hike 5-6 miles at a moderate pace to where George Washington camped in the beautiful Watchung Mountains. Great views. Children 10 years or older and friendlydogs are welcome. Bring water and light snack and wear hiking boots. After the hike there will be an optional lunch/hot chocolate at a local restaurant . Meet in the parking lot next to the entrance to Jockey Hollow at Wick Farm. A $3 fee will be charged to non(Sierra Club)members. Allparticipants must sign a liability waiver. Rain/snow Cancels. Leaders: David Ogens. and Walter Goldenbaum,

Mar 19 (Sun): Manasquan River Reservoir, Monmouth County: ( Special Interest: Birds) Enjoy an easy 5-mile circular hike on one of the largest reservoirs in the area. We may observe water-fowl. Bring snacks, drinks,
bird books and/or binoculars. Hiking shoes are not required. This is a great family hike. Meet at 9am at the main entrance to the reservoir on Windeller Rd. Bad weather, rain/snow-cover, cancels. Confirmation/questions
please call: Leader Mike Verange(Sierra Club), 908-902-0718 or mjverange (JS).

Birding for Beginners ◦ Workshops w/ Linn Pierson ◦ Includes indoor and outdoor instruction ◦ Pre-registration is required ◦ Sunday, March 19, April 9 and May 21 ◦ 2-4pm ◦ NJ Palisades Park Headquarters ◦Alpine, NJ (PIP Exit 2) 201.768.0379 ◦ Free

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Keeping the Faith

Americans remain largely optimistic that home values will keep rising in the next few years, but some are concerned that they won't be able to keep up with their mortgage payments, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.(click on graphic to enlarge)

Homeowners' views in the new nationwide poll show widespread faith in the real estate market, despite signs that prices and sales are cooling. The median price of existing U.S. homes sold in January was $211,000, down from a record high of $220,000 in August.

In the Times/Bloomberg poll, nearly half of homeowners expected the price of their primary residence to rise 5% to 15% over the next three years. Twenty-five percent expected appreciation of 16% or more in that period.

Just 5% predicted no price increase

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tree Muggers

During the past several months, the north end of Montclair has experienced numerous and extensive electrical failures.
The Current Montclair Times is reporting on the utility services response
According to PSE&G Division Forester Robert Hagglund,Six additional crews are hewing and trimming trees in a route extending from a PSE&G substation on the Nutley/Bloomfield border that provides power to the northern region of Montclair.

“We will be aggressively, and I do mean aggressively, trimming the trees away from the high-voltage lines,” Hagglund said. “The bottom line is, we’ve got to come into your town and trim trees. The [state Board of Public Utilities] mandates this.”

Hagglund noted that, in Montclair more than in nearly all of the other 35 municipalities in Essex, Passaic and Bergen counties of his PSE&G jurisdiction, there will be strenuous objections to the tree trimming.

“We’re not going to make everybody happy,” he acknowledged.

Climbing teams, or “manual crews,” will be going into residents’ backyards beginning next week to trim trees that pose dangers to overhead electrical wires. Hagglund said that, decades ago, the then-planners of Montclair opted to string along electrical lines in many backyards. PSE&G now must confront the consequences of this decision, such as the difficulty in reaching the obstructive trees or even driving crane-trucks into inaccessible yards.

Over on Baristanet, the natives are restless, From dozens of responses, we quote two:

Posted by: BobbyD | Mar 8, The extended series of recent power outages in Upper Montclair was attributed primarily to the underground cable that crossed the GSPkwy from Nutley. At least that is what PSE&G told me directly. So now PSE&G wants to cut down trees to fix our power problems? That is a distraction technique worthy of Dubya (i.e. a guy in Afganistan attacks us with our own airplanes, declare war on Iraq!)

Posted by: walleroo
If PSE&G wants to come into my yard and cut down my trees, they're going to have to do it with my dog's teeth wrapped around their ankles. Go ahead, guys, make my day.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Condo Alert

Last Sunday’s(2/26) Times had a feature article on one of Bloomfield’s latest Condo developments.This one is planned as a conversion of the current Parkview “nursing home” next to the Green at the end of Church St. where the owner wants to put 11 townhouses where currently there is one historic 1890 era house. The house has connections to the landmarked 1796 church on the Green which is next door. The application for significant variances is being heard before the Zoning Board. A vocal coalition of homeowners and Historical Society representatives (photo) have asked residents throughout the township to turnout at the next Board meeting at City Hall on Thursday March 9th.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Desperate Realtor?

Just down the hill from the Hempstead development is Bloomfield’s answer to Desperate Housewife’s “Wysteria Lane”(we’re talking suburban architecture here). The 6 unit Marzulli development on Holly Lane (off Watchung & Broad) quickly became a focus for the scorn & cynicism of many observers for similar reasons – their record high prices for Bloomfield ($595K) and microscopic back yards.

Since their completion a year ago, prices have begun to catch up for high end homes in the neighborhood. But one of the first buyers has already put their home on the market. At an asking price of 637K, the owner – who happens to be a licensed Realtor -- is not trying to reap a huge profit. No takers so far after nearly two months on the market.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Realty and Illusion

Montclair’s controversial “Hempstead” at Marlboro megaMcMansion development is featured in this Sunday’s Times’ special mega-zine exclusively devoted to Real Estate issues. The topic at hand is how many developer’s sugarcoat their architectural renderings to seduce planning boards into accepting their projects. What's especially appealing is how the surrounding open spaces and lush green "forest" seem to frame each home in the 10 home complex. In Reality, each home is snug as a bug in tiny lots that will sell for $1.5M.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Rattling Cages

The endangered anti-hero is the venomous Timber Rattlestake
which can grow to over 6 feet in length.

We’ve never reviewed fiction here, but our own Debbie Gallant, the driving force behind baristanet --NJ’s most successful blog-- has just published her first novel, Rattled, which manages to satirize Real Estate developers, the endangered species act, conspicuous consumption, and suburban life in NJ. She characterizes her dastardly developer as one who
”knew his buyers. They love the country. They were drawn by the quaintness, the open fields, the farm stands, and the pines. …The thing was that all of them, every single one, wanted to be the last one in. The fact that bulldozers had cleared the land for their suburban castles, didn’t ruffle their sensitivities. But when the big bad machines came to clear the land for someone new, their acquisitive little souls suddenly turned sensitive.”

Less that a week after publication, Debbie has had rave reviews from a growing list of national rags from USA Today to People Magazine. Debbie will begin her national book-signing tour Saturday from 11AM-1230PM at Watchung Book sellers at Watchung and Park St., Montclair.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Slippery Slopes for a Snow Day

The open spaces at the end of Liongate Drive have long been the focus of concern and speculation by Bloomfield residents and developers. For the past year, the former Scientific Glass site has been partially leveled, then reshaped with a 30ft “mountain” sprouting like a volcano in the center that can be seen from Broad St. and Lakewood Drive. Contrary to rumors, there are no plans afoot for a ski resort or theme park. The current goal of the new owners, AFC Realty, is Condos. The DEP has yet to determine that the former industrial property has been cleaned up to residential standards. After nearly 6 quiet months, things are starting to get busy as per this notice from the DEP:

Environmental Waste Management Associates plans to work
on the site March 2 - 10 to perform delineation sampling. March 2 & 3 they plan to delineate Area of Concern (AOC) 41. That area is located towards the northwestern end of site, in the area where the piles of demolition materials had been located. During the week of March 6 they plan to dig test pits to investigate thirteen other AOCs. Please let me know if you have any questions about this planned work.

Mark Herzberg
Office of Community Relations
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
(609) 633-1369