MAPLEWOOD, NJ – The township committee unanimously passed an ordinance which adopts the redevelopment plan for the Maplewood Village Post Office site.
The plan presents a set of guidelines for developers to follow, should they wish to present the township with proposals for purchasing the site and building on it. It specifies many areas that developers would have to comply with, such as maximum building size, required parking areas and designated usage with first-floor retail and residential units above that. The plan may be read on the township website here: Post Office Redevelopment Plan.
Members of the public were on hand to express ongoing concerns they have with the project. Resident Julie Martini asked if there was a financial analysis done for the project. Mayor Victor DeLuca said there is not, because the numbers will be determined by the purchase price and future usage and tax revenue specified in each of the proposals, which the township will receive and review later in the process. This stage of the plan merely lays out the requirements for developers to use in crafting those proposals later. A formal Request-for-Information and Request-for-Proposals will lead to the township getting those numbers for review.
Martini also asked whether the public will be able to review the various proposals once they are received. DeLuca said that due to the competitive nature of the bidding process, that would not be possible. The township committee will choose a “preferred developer” after the proposals are all reviewed, based not only on the purchase price and building design plans, but also on the committee’s confidence that they can and will do a great job. At that point, the chosen developer’s plans will be made public for input from residents.
Resident Dave Helmkamp echoed concerns about public input during the proposal phase, as well as questions about the plan’s details about the overall scale of the project and building height. He worries the building may be too large and the lack of clarity of the language in the plan will lead to proposals that are out of character with the existing downtown.
DeLuca said the “the plan is a dynamic document,” and the town reserves the right to make changes at every stage of the project, ensuring that the end result is in keeping with the existing downtown and not out of scale.
The issue of parking was again raised, as it has been at most of the meetings at which this project has been discussed. The plan does not seem to specify the creation of the number of parking spaces that many residents feel it should. The Committee acknowledged that parking is a concern, but is taking a wait-and-see position to determine if each proposal builds in enough parking for the intended use of the proposed project. The possibility of increasing parking at the former Women’s Club was also discussed.