CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Borough Council voted 4-0 to designate Post Office Plaza as "an area in need of redevelopment," allowing for plans to move forward on Monday at the regular meeting of the council.
Voting in favor of the resolution were council president Len Resto, and council members Peter Hoffman, Bob Weber and Thad Kobylarz. Council members James Collander and Vicki Fife were absent. Fife is unable to discuss the issue nor cast a vote since she recused herself in September.
The planning for the redevelopment was put on hold at the Sept. 25, 2017, council meeting when then-council-president Fife and Mayor Bruce Harris recused themselves from voting and discussions on the redevelopment plans because of a "potential conflict of interest."
Because of the recusals, the votes to designate an area "in need of development" went back to square one and was re-approved by the planning board and then the borough council on Monday night.
Council member Peter Hoffman updated the public on the redevelopment plans before planner Phil Abramson made his presentation on Post Office Plaza
Planner Phil Abramson explains some of the issues he discovered in his investigation of Post office Plaza
Kobylarz, who was elected to the council in November, noted that the original plans had been "wiped clean" and that plans to redevelop were starting from scratch. He pointed out that residents were concerned about a "drastic alteration of the character of Chatham" by planning three of four-story structures. He facetiously offered that he didn't want Chatham to become "Hoboken West." He offered some of his concerns in the video below.
Kobylarz mentioned that the news of the Cottage Deli at Post Office Plaza changing hands indicated that possible redevelopment might already be set in motion before any plans had been presented. He had this exchange with Abramson about the subject in the video below.
John Hague, the attorney representing Chatham in the redevelopment, previously was a resident of Chatham Borough for 27 years. He offered that Chatham was doing the redevelopment the right way. He said developers were not dictating the plans in video below.
Chatham resident Rozella Clyde advocated for an "ongoing opportunity for public comment" during the public portion of the meeting in video below.
A public meeting on the redevelopment was held last June at the Chatham Middle School. A second meeting is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 in Chatham Borough Hall.
Abramson talks about the goals for the March 20 meeting in video below.