FLEMINGTON, NJ – There was no vote. Flemington Planning Board Chairman Todd Cook called that “weird” but, as he observed, that’s how the process works.
Instead, Cook explained that the Planning Board’s task at Monday's special board meeting was strictly to determine whether the plan to redevelop the Union Hotel and surrounding properties is consistent with the borough’s Master Plan. It wasn’t a public hearing, Cook said.
The redevelopment plan, by redeveloper Jack Cust's Flemington Center Urban Renewal, LLC, covers the entire 3.92-acre redevelopment area, which includes 15 lots.
“Once the hotel area was declared an area in need of redevelopment with full public participation in 2010, and subsequently expanded thereafter, the Council took on the task of writing the redevelopment plan. It is the Council’s legal responsibility to hold the public hearing associated with the adoption of the plan,” Cook said. That is expected to happen at the Nov. 13 meeting of Borough Council.
The Planning Board’s role Monday night, Cook said, was to “generate a report” that detailed the redevelopment plan’s consistency with the borough’s Master Plan.
The meeting included borough planner Beth McManus’ explanation that the board’s role was to “identify inconsistencies between the redevelopment plan and the borough’s Master Plan” and issue recommendations - if it chose - regarding those inconsistencies. It also had the authority to issue general recommendations about the plan.
In the end, the Planning Board could only issue recommendations, however. The final decision regarding accepting the plan rests with Borough Council.
Guiding the Planning Board’s discussion was the borough’s 2015 Reexamination Report, a document adopted in 2015 that includes “goals, objectives and policies that should be considered in the evaluation of the redevelopment proposal.”
The goals include protecting the “integrity of Flemington’s historic district and historic resources,” and strengthening local business “with an emphasis on attracting specialty retail and restaurants and encouraging redevelopment of underutilized properties.”
The board wrestled with the plan’s details for four hours, leaving only a handful members of the public present at its 11 p.m. conclusion.
The report will be drafted by board secretary Eileen Parks, then circulated among members of the board for review. The board expects to officially approve the report at its Nov. 6 meeting to ensure it is consistent with the discussion. The board agreed that the report will conclude that the redevelopment plan is consistent with the Master Plan.
Stay with TAPinto Flemington for more about the Planning Board’s review of the plan.