CHATHAM, NJ - The Borough of Chatham Council approved a resolution Monday night authorizing a preliminary study to designate River Road an "Area in Need of Redevelopment," which is the first step in a process that could lead to as many as 340 apartment units being built on four lots.

The resolution passed, 5-1, with council member Bob Weber voting no because of "transparency" concerns. Weber cited the "timing" of the move and noted that the plan to build as many as 340 apartment units had not been mentioned until he brought it up. Voting in favor of the study were council members Thad Kobylarz, Vicki Fife, Peter Hoffman, Jim Collander and Len Resto.

The resolution gives the Chatham Borough Planning Board the go-ahead to "undertake a preliminary investigation to determine if certain real property within the Borough of Chatham are areas in need of redevelopment." 

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The area that will be studied includes block 135 lots 9, 10, 11 and 12. Those lots include National Manufacturing Co. at 12 River Road; Burling Instrument Co. at 16 River Road, and Crown Oil at 22 River Road. After the study is conducted, the planning board would make its recommendation to the council, which would then have to approve the designation. The four lots are assessed at $4.1 million and bring in $88,000 of tax revenue annually.

Weber asks about the developer's vision for the property (in the video below) and stated that the "people have a right to know."

Chatham Borough Engineer Vince DeNave explains that by going to the "area in need of redevelopment" route, that the public has more input in what is built. Weber countered that he had problems with the "transparency" at this stage. Council member Peter Hoffman noted that the plan could change once the study is conducted.

Weber asked DeNave about the timing of the redevelopment plan for River Road while Chatham Borough is in the midst of its redeveloping Post Office Plaza (see video below). Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris said that it's good to "strike when the iron is hot." DeNave noted that the study was being done at the request of the developer, but declined to reveal the name of the developer.

DeNave highlighted the advantages to the borough, such as "tools under the law to create a plan that you're really happy with" when an area is designated in need of redevelopment (see video below). "When you do a redevelopment plan, the community develops a plan," DeNave said.

Council member Vicki Fife (see video below) said, "Anyway you look at it, it's a mess. It's time to take a look at it."