MADISON, NJ – The borough council unanimously voted to rescind a resolution to rebuild the Civic Center and include 40 units of affordable housing at 28 Walnut Street at its Monday, June 22, meeting.
Attorney Matthew Giacobbe read a letter from Mayor Robert Conley, who was on vacation. The mayor said one question in particular bothered him. “Why is this moving so fast? That question brought me to where I am now” and added, “experience has shown us that good long-range planning cannot occur under the pressure of short-term deadlines.”
He asked that the Planning Board continue to incorporate affordable housing elements in the Master Plan. The attorneys will file a Declaratory Judgment action with the court, incorporating Madison’s strong history with affordable housing. The filing deadline is July 8. Conley pointed out that Madison is one of only three towns out of 39 in Morris County to have a Housing Authority. The borough has affordable housing sites on Loantaka and Belmont and an 80-unit senior housing complex on Chateau Thierry. A recent Habitat for Humanity project developed three for purchase affordable homes on Strickland. Two projects on Elm Street at the corner of Park Avenue are replacing run-down residences.
Several residents also addressed the resolution. Walnut Street resident Chris Kellogg said the proposed pocket park on the site should not be abandoned. He said that more residents should be engaged in the project. “There are a lot of intelligent people in town who know about construction,” he said.
Several residents said the meeting the week before was not well handled and people couldn’t hear what was being said. One person said the flyer sent to residents was misleading, only highlighting the Civic Center. Another said a pedestrian study was needed. “Madison can do better than this,” one person said.
“The time frame is tight and we still want to protect the town,” Giacobbe said. “We want to meet our legal obligations without overburdening the town.” The governor had decided to let the courts, not COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) guide the affordable housing expansion.
The council also amended an ordinance to increase an appropriation from $950,000 to $1,050,000 for road improvements on Ridgedale Avenue. “We’re so grateful for all the potholes,” one resident said, “because it slows down traffic.” But once road improvements are made, he urged the council to lower the speed limit to 25 miles per hour from 30. He also referred to the historic homes in the neighborhood.