LIVINGSTON, NJ — Nearly 40 Livingston residents accepted the Livingston Planning Board’s invitation to bring suggestions to its 2017 Master Plan open forum, which was attended by more than 100 residents on Tuesday at Town Hall.
Last reviewed in December 2007, the Master Plan, which provides a long-term vision for the physical aspects of the community and guides the appropriate use of land within the township in order to protect public health and safety and promote general welfare, is up for review again this year.
Planning board chairman Peter Klein said it was encouraging to see how many people accepted the board’s invitation, stating that only nine residents attended the last Master Plan public forum. After hearing from residents on Tuesday, the planning board will update the current version and hold a public hearing on the final product at a later date.
“Livingston has undergone a lot of change and a lot of growth throughout its existence,” said Klein as he asked residence how they think Livingston should improve over the next 10-to-20 years. “Since 1946, we’ve had a succession of Master Plans that formed the framework within which this community’s change and growth has taken place. Your advice is going to be very helpful to us in doing what he have to do.”
Klein encouraged residents to come forward with suggestions of what improvements they think are necessary in terms of community facilities, service organizations, offices, industry, transportation, housing, recreation, environmental protection, traffic, parking and other physical aspects of the community.
Some common suggestions from residents included establishing community gardens; improving walkability (and “bike-ability”) in the township; improving traffic and parking issues; populating the business community with more small businesses; and preserving open space to avoid overcrowding.
“It is an absolute pleasure to see how many people showed up tonight to give you their input,” said resident Walter LeVine, who has worked closely with the planning board for many years.
LeVine echoed many of the other residents by reiterating the importance of maintaining open space within the community and creating community gardens; enforcing existing ordinances like the “safe streets” ordinance; restricting commercial operations; and developing new ways to alleviate parking and traffic issues.
In addition to those concerns, other popular comments included creating a more-friendly environment for entrepreneurial stores and restaurants that will encourage more young families to move into the township. Residents also noted that there should be more areas within the township for kids and teens to hang out.
“Mixed-use space is very good, because then you have customers and you bring in young people and places that are interesting to go to,” said Justin Alpert, who specifically spoke of the need for a local sports pub and affordable one-and two-bedroom apartments for young adults. “Livingston has unlimited potential, and so thank you for exploring that.”
Resident Pat Nave commended the planning board as well as the rest of the governing body for its communication with the community in recent years.
“In my point of view, the communication coming out of Town Hall has been extraordinary the past year or so,” she said. “I think living in Livingston is great—I think most of us would agree with that and we’re all very proud of our town.”
At the end of the process, the planning board will prepare a formal review document that will be presented at a public hearing, at which the public will have the opportunity once again to offer their views on the product.