CHATHAM, NJ - Victoria Fife took a hike last summer and what she saw surprised her.

“We did a study last summer and walked River Road,” said Fife, a Chatham Borough Council member. “When you’re driving in a car, you’re just passing by. When you’re walking it, you can see a lot. It’s a different type of journey.”

Fife has sent out letters to all residents of the M1 and M3 districts in the borough, inviting them to a public “Open House” meeting, where residents are encouraged to meet the borough planner and offer ideas for possibly amending the master plan for the area. The M1 and M3 districts include: River Road, Watchung Avenue Commerce Street and a portion of Summit Avenue.

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Fife is hopeful that all those interested will turn out for the “Open House” set for Wednesday, July 17, 6-8 p.m. in the borough hall council chambers.

“This area is the ‘Gateway to Morris County,’ it’s right at the crossroads of Morris and Union counties,” Fife, a liaison to the borough planning board said. “The idea is to expand the range of permitted uses in those districts. Perhaps, envision a hotel, an elevated pedestrian crosswalk or a walk along the river.

“The idea isn’t to come in and make a hostile takeover. If we open up the uses, we can attract different types of businesses. It’s very accessible to major highways. We could increase ratables and that could lead to lower taxes.”

The borough had a master plan written in 2000 and it was reviewed in 2006, but Fife pointed out that there is no real plan for the M1 and M3 districts, which is zoned for light industrial businesses.

“I have a keen eye of aesthetics and most people don’t even know that it’s in Chatham Borough,” Fife said. “I’m asking residents to think of the possibilities and give their opinion.”