Chatham Borough Planning Board Targets ‘Complete Streets’ to Provide Safe Access to Multiple Modes of Transportation on Its Roads

CHATHAM, NJ—Chatham Borough plans to join 23 other communities around the Garden State in providing on its streets “safe access to all users by designing and operating a comprehensive, integrated, connected multi-modal network of transportation options.”

The above is the definition of the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Complete Streets policy which, the DOT is urging communities to carry out through “the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of new and retrofit transportation facilities within public rights of way that are federally or state funded, including projects processed or administered through the department’s capital program.”

Susan Blickstein, the borough’s planner, explained at Wednesday’s planning board meeting that the program promotes design of future streets to safely accommodate all modes of transportation, including automotive and bicycle traffic as well as pedestrians.

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She added the committee formulating the board’s Complete Streets policy includes the chair of Chatham’s Green Team, the police department’s traffic expert, Board Councilman Len Resto and the Safe Streets expert from the School District of the Chathams.

In addition, Blickstein said, input will be sought from the general public. For example, a bicyclist who commutes by bicycle from Chatham to Florham Park spoke at a recent committee session.

The planning board will be asked to formulate a general policy on Complete Streets and present its recommendations to the Borough Council, which will be asked to adopt a resolution supporting the policy and seeking state or federal grants to carry it out.

Blickstein emphasized the policy will not be a plan for specific streets but a set of guidelines that can be used in carrying out the aims of the Complete Streets program.

She added while many of the communities involved in the program have only copied the state language the Chatham program will seek to “institutionalize” it to make the policy unique to the borough and, hopefully, provide guideposts for future capital projects.

In the language of the DOT’s policy statement, “Complete Streets make fiscal sense by incorporating sidewalks, bike lanes, safe crossings and transit amenities into the initial design of a project, thus sparing the expense of retrofits later.”

Blickstein said the committee expects to presents its initial draft of the policy to the planning board next month and to finalize the policy sometime in March.

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, the planning body unanimously approved waivers of site plan reviews for changes of use for Bloomers Flower Shop, to be located at 221 Main Street, and Le Pooch Pet Grooming, to be located at 240 Main Street.

Although Borough Zoning Officer Vincent DeNave explained that provision of parking is not required on either site, Agatha Garibaldi of the flower shop said there is room on the site of that shop for the one or two vehicles that will be used by employees or her business and Jennifer Rodriguez of Le Pooch said she would purchase permits in a nearby municipal lot for vehicles owned by her business and its employees.

Both applicants also agreed to comply with borough signage requirements, and Rodriguez promised to abide by all regulations for noise control, control of the dogs and cats her business will service and health regulations pertaining to garbage and disposal of any animal waste generated from pets whose owners patronize her facility.

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