CHATHAM, NJ - The update on the Post Office Plaza Redevelopment Plan is that there will be more updates coming, according to the timeline presented by Annie Hindenlang, representing Topology, at the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night.
Hindenlang came to the borough council meeting to announce that three plans will be revealed to the public around the second week of November by Topology, hired by Chatham Borough to formulate a plan for the redevelopment of Post Office Plaza.
Hindenlang answered questions from the council and the public and then situated herself in a conference room across the hall to speak with residents one-on-one.
According to Hindenlang, Chatham Borough is putting together the plans for a project that hasn't been done "anywhere in the state."
The council is targeting January, 2019, as a time a plan might be approved. It would then take an estimated three to six months to formulate an agreement with a developer. No actual construction would start for at least a year, according to Hindenlang.
"No other municipality has taken such a community-driven approach," Hindenlang said. "This has been publicly vetted from the beginning to the end of the process. The community has had a large say. I would rather push through a project that the community wants. It's easier and it saves a lot of time."
There were a lot more questions than answers given on Monday, especially since none of the three plans has been revealed to the public. Concerns about parking, Main Street traffic and congestion remain the hot-button issues.
"What we're going to do is take the best of each of those plans," Hindenlang said. "We'll be taking those ideas and creating a potential program."
Chatham Borough residents will be able to weigh in once the plans are revealed through Planet Civic, an online survey. Original ideas from the public also will be considered, according to the planners. Council member Thad Kobylarz asked Hindenlang about public input in the video below.
Council member Bob Weber asks Hindenlang about the process once a plan is approved by the public and the council in the video below.
Topology has implemented urban planning development in South Orange and Morristown, to name a few.
"If it's going to add two percent more people to town, maybe we care, maybe we don't. But I think that process ought to incorporate those metrics before we get too far down the road," Stewart Carr, Chatham Township resident, said. "When I think of the term area in need of redevelopment, I'm thinking of an urban area or some kind of a blighted area, where you really, really need to get somebody here to make something work. It seems that of all the real estate in the country, this is something that is subjectively valuable.
"The idea that a payment in lieu of taxes that are going to net us less, or having some type of tax-exempt status from the state or somewhere else, it sounds like someone is getting something at the expense o the taxpayers here. That should be vetted up front. Maybe it's worth it, maybe it's not, but that should be calculated up front."
Chatham Borough resident Michael Dean asked his questions about the possible agreement with a developer during public commentary. Hindenlang responded that impact studies will be made as part of the agreement process after a plan is adopted by the council. She also noted that the plan us to provide more parking in the video below.