Essex County News

Montclair Planning Board Pushes Back on Lackawanna Plaza Development


MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair planning board met on Monday night to discuss and adjust wording to the resolution adopted during their June 12, 2017 meeting regarding the Lackawanna Plaza Development. 19 recommendations will be presented to the Township Council for review.

While this project has been touted as a great vision by its developers to revitalize the Lackawanna Plaza plot, it has been met by the general public with mixed concerns. The proposed plan is to build 350 housing units and a large supermarket in, what some residents say, is an already densely populated area of the 4th ward.

Members of the board revisited their recent resolution suggesting the scaling down of the project and its foot print that planning board members stated, in its present form, would overshadow the historic aspect of the train station in being the main focus and driving force of the project.

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The board adjusted and added language in the resolution to be presented to the town council for consideration as it moves to vote upon accepting the proposed suggestion from the planning board.

The council has the choice to move forward with the original plans submitted or not. 

The Pinnacle Group is the property's current owner.

The existing resolution calls for the the property to remain intact, making the train station and its original structures a major focal point in the development and revitalization of the area. The goal has been to shrink the footprint of the proposed design that was viewed by the public as too massive. While it still remains important for a supermarket to be placed in the area, that too was questioned regarding its 40,000 sq. ft. size. Residents felt that, although a supermarket is needed, the building of an additional 350 units of housing along the Grove Street corridor between Bloomfield Avenue and Glenridge Avenue, was not. The area consists of 8 acres of property.

The Montclair Planning Board finalized a resolution detailing reasons why it rejected a preliminary plan for redeveloping Lackawanna Plaza.

The Planning Board resolution identifies the plan as "substantially inconsistent with the Township of Montclair Master Plan..."

It further states that they, "...cannot recommend the adoption of the Lackawanna Redevelopment Plan, dated June 1, 2017..." The resolution calls for the plan to be scaled back to "reduce the amount of mass, scale and density."

The resolution now goes before the Township Council to consider.

The resolution suggests that the historical elements of the Lackawanna Train Station be preserved in the redevelopment. The resolution also mentions concern with the 'haste' at which the project is progressing and how that will impact the Master Plan.

The council members will now have the charge of examining and voting on each of the Planning Board's recommendations. 

The resolution  will be submitted to the Town Council Tuesday night.  However, it is not listed on the agenda.

Also on the Planning Board's agenda, was the redevelopment of the property that houses the former Diva Lounge. The owner is requesting to build a 19-unit 6-story apartment building behind, it along the North Willow St. corridor.

While this project in its number of units, is small in comparison with Lackawanna Plaza project, residents spoke stating that it still adds to the density and traffic issues of an already crowed area.  The Seymour Street project with its 300 proposed units, will sit directly across the street. It has been another project contested by residents as to how the structure will look on the small plot of land where Montclair's Social Security building once sat.  

Two issues stood out as the owner and his council presented the plans, parking variances and a variance to only provide one unit of affordable housing while the Township calls for two. 

The planning board meeting can be viewed in its entirety on Channel 34 or minutes can be found here.


Natalie Heard Hackett contributed to this article.

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