CHATHAM, NJ - The Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night was dominated by the public commentary portion - all of it concerning the decisions being considered for the redevelopment of Post Office Plaza.
Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris, anticipating the reaction from the public after receiving emails on the subject, produced a handout with meeting timelines on both the River Road Redevelopment and the Post Office Plaza Redevelopment.
Harris opened the meeting by reviewing the timeline, which includes a January meeting that will detail the fiscal impact of Post Office Plaza.
Twelve residents spoke against the Post Office Redevelopment plans as presented up to this point. One such resident, Chatham Borough Planning Board member H.H. Montague, who suggested that the whole idea be scrapped and that the borough go back to the drawing board.
Montague explains that at the Nov. 14 Special Meeting on the design plans, there was no way of telling how big the proposed 230-unit building of rentals would actually be (See the video below).
Montague, who was also asking questions on behalf of his wife, Barb, said there was no elevation plans shown (in the video below).
"No one knows what it looks like. How can you tell if it's good or bad?," Montague said. "Everybody doesn't have enough information to do this at all. I think a lot of people who say why don't we stop and go back and start over again."
Chatham Township resident Stewart Carr said that a lot more people have awoken to what is going on and that they want to have a back-and-forth discussion, citing the 11 other people who spoke at the meeting Monday. He also gave the Rose Hall apartment complex in Madison as an example for people to check out in comparison to what is being proposed in Chatham (see video below).
Photo of Rose Hall, located at 10 Kings Rd. in Madison, where 135 residential units were built on five acres. The developer is proposing 230 units on 5.5 acres at Post Office Plaza.
Chatham resident Thomas K. Belding, former president of the Chatham Board of Education, presented a letter he had sent to Mayor Harris and mayor-elect Thad Kobylarz in which he stated in part that "A five-story, 230-unit rental structure in the center of town may fit nicely in Hoboken or Brooklyn but would be inconsistent with the small-town character that brought many of us to Chatham." Belding said he was representing a group of residents in making his remarks below.
Mayor Harris explained that there wasn't a back-and-forth allowed during public commentary because it would keep more residents from having the opportunity to speak (see video below).
Outgoing council president James Collander gave his take on how Chatham Borough has maintained an AAA rating from Moody's, but noted that New Jersey is a high-tax state. "Our costs are going to go up. We need tax revenue to cover those costs. This is one way to defer that increase." See Collander's full remarks below.
There will be a turnover in the governing body of Chatham Borough come January when council member Thad Kobylarz will become the mayor and Irene Treloar and Karen Koronkiewicz are sworn in as council members. Kobylarz has stated during information sessions on the Post Office Plaza Redevelopment that nothing has been decided yet and that the borough can still "walk away" from any proposed deal.