Edited Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 10:45 a.m. to remove the Re-introduction of No Knock Ordinance from agenda.

Edited Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 12:40 a.m.-- Connell Re-Zoning Ordinance pulled from May 26, 2020 Township Council Agenda 

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- Public Hearings and final adoption vote on ordinance introduced at the last meeting of the council will be held Tuesday, May 26; while Connell rezoning ordinance up for vote has been pulled. The three new ordinances to be introduced include a $2.2 Million bond ordinance funding various capital improvements, another establishing a cap bank and a third permitting restaurants to apply to have temporary outdoor dining facilities. Click herepdf for meeting agenda. 

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The public hearings and final vote on the ordinance introduced at the May 12 council meeting re-adopts the redevelopment plan for the former Mondelli Property.

The final vote for the ordinance introduced at the May 12 council meeting that will rezone a large segment of Connell Park as “Mixed Use” has been pulled from the agenda, This rezoning was discussed at length at the April 14 meeting.

The ordinance that re-adopts the redevelopment plan for the Mondelli Property corrects a procedural error related to the Former Mondelli Property Redevelopment Plan, in which the council failed to adopt a resolution declaring the Study Area of the property an area in need of redevelopment. 

To fix that error, on May 12, the council adopted Resolution #2 designating Block 614, Lot 3 as a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment.This resolution should have been adopted on Oct. 2, 2019, but the item was not on that evening’s agenda. Protocol requires the resolution to be adopted before the ordinance can be adopted. Once the resolution was adopted on May 12, the council introduced the ordinance to readopt the redevelopment plan. This ordinance can be seen on Page 41 of the May 12 agenda here.

The ordinance that was pulled from final vote at tonight's meeting creates a Mixed Use Zone on the Connell Property the Code of the Township of Berkeley Heights, Appendix A, to replace the current OR-A and OR-A1 zones with a new Mixed-Use Zone (MU Zone). The complete ordinance can be found beginning on Page 44 of the May 12 meeting agenda, here.

The ordinance reads that the MU Zone “will facilitate the transformation of a traditional suburban office park into a commercially viable integrated multi-use family that provides work, residential hospitality, retail, entertainment and recreation opportunities. The MU Zone shall be developed as to ensure a functionally and physically interconnected variety of land uses and open spaces, including outdoor recreational amenities.”

When it was introduced, Councilwoman Gentiana Brahimaj voted against it and Councilwoman Jeanne Kingsley abstained from voting. 

Council President Alvaro Medeiros, who voted to introduce the ordinance, said, “I believe this is right from a zoning perspective: (It) enables a design for the future versus trapping Connell in splintered zoning which contributes to poor outcomes; otherwise Connell could do pretty much everything that has raised concerns with the 2017 zoning that was unanimously approved by the Township Council. Only difference is that they wouldn’t build any amenities outside of the limited 12-acre zoning they now have.”

He added that Connell has been a “partner to Berkeley Heights” and earned the town’s support and reminded everyone, the rezoning still requires Planning Board approval for anything proposed for the property. He conceded that Twin Falls Road has “suffered considerable consequences of Connell development,” but believes it will be possible to work with Connell to “ameliorate the worst impacts without detriment to their vision.” 

As for residents’ concerns that the new zoning is “encouraging a second downtown” on the Connell property, such a development is “not a bad thing,” in his opinion. The township needs “the tax revenues and amenities they plan” for the rezoned area, amenities that would not fit in the downtown. “I think Berkeley Heights can coexist as a township with a more vibrant Connell development,” he concluded.

Three New Ordinances to be Introduced

Council will introduce three ordinances Tuesday night.

The first is to establish a Cap Bank - that ordinance can be found on Page 150 of the agenda, here. 

The second is an ordinance permitting restaurants to seek approval to operate temporary outdoor dining areas.

The text of the ordinance begins on Page 151 of the agenda, here.

The other is a bond ordinance for “Various Capital Improvements” appropriating $2,655,045 and authorizing the issuance of $2,180,293 bonds or notes to finance part of the cost thereof. The text of the bond ordinance begins on page 158 of the agenda, here. A complete listing of the items on the 2020 Temporary Capital Budget can be found in Resolution #10, beginning on Page 143 of the Agenda.

The ordinance will finance a generator for the Rescue Squad ($19,000); turnout gear and other needed equipment for the Fire Department for approximately $118,000; Computers and radio communications upgrade for about $23,000; Sewer pipe and manhole rehab and various sewer system improvements $227,000; Under the engineer, for milling, paving, and reconstruction to various roads and for various drainage projects in Peppertown Park and other locations and the creation of a commuter parking lot, for a total of $1,567,500, not including a $360,000 State of NJ DOT Grant; Under Administration, $47,000 for scanning projects; under the DPW, $28,000 for equipment, various improvements to electrical upgrades and a new storage facility for the DPW, plus milling and paving near the train station and a new roof for same for $35,625 and various road improvements for $114,000. 

The total bonds/notes authorized add up to $2,180,293; section 20 costs are $530,000.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Find the link to the meeting here.