LIVINGSTON, NJ — Residents of Livingston will have a third chance to comment on a proposed ordinance to establish a mixed-use overlay zone for two lots in the area of ShopRite on South Livingston Avenue after council members agreed to keep the public hearing open until they can gather enough information and input to take a vote.

The controversial ordinance as it’s currently written would permit the development of townhouses and a mixed-use building containing residential units, including affordable housing units, at 457 and 461 South Livingston Avenue. The proposal prompted a nearly three-hour debate among residents when the public hearing opened at the end of September, and the conversation continued during Monday’s township council meeting.

In addition to hearing comments from residents and announcing that they would not be voting on the ordinance just yet, council members also noted that they would consider making amendments to the ordinance prior to handing it over to the planning board.

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“We're discussing some a couple of alternatives or tweaking to this as well,” said Mayor Rudy Fernandez. “If that, in fact, happens, what we'll have to end up doing is introducing something new…

“We're looking to see if we want to make any changes to the mixed use that's right off on South Livingston Avenue, to see whether that should or should not stay that way, or maybe stay residential. Depending upon what we may or may not decide with that, that then may impact what they would build in the back regarding, size and density.”

He added that these decisions are being made “to the benefit of the local residents”—many of whom have raised concerns about an active proposal from a builder to use the lots for the development of three townhomes and a three-story mixed-use building. According to the proposal, the mixed-use building would include five affordable units and four market-value units on the second and third floors with the ground level being used for either retail space or tenant amenities.

Once again, the opinions of those who spoke during Monday’s hearing were varied, with the majority speaking out against the project due to aesthetics, traffic, noise pollution and other potential issues that such a project might cause.

Fernandez reiterated that when and if the council adopts the proposed zoning ordinance, it would then be up to the planning board to hear testimonies and have open discussions about specific project applications. Residents will be invited to those meetings as well, where they will be able to hear from the experts and provide public comments.

“We just give the overall zoning for the property and then they get into the details at the planning board, and they're open to the public for comments,” said Fernandez. “They will have to have testimony—traffic testimony, landscaping, engineering, architecture, all that stuff. So that’s where you get into the weeds, and any property owner within 200 feet of the property would get certified mail notice of that planning board application and hearing as well.”

To read more about this ordinance, CLICK HERE. This week's public hearing on the subject can also be viewed at any time BY CLICKING HERE. The discussion begins about one hour and 20 minutes into Monday's virtual council meeting. 

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