LITTLE FALLS, NJ - The Little Falls Planning Board approved an application for the redevelopment of the township's downtown area, which includes parking facilities at its meeting on Nov. 2.

Jeffrey Janota, land use planner, presented  the downtown redevelopment study, referred to as "town center." A similar presentation was given on the Singac section recently, which was recently approved by the Township Council.

In order to designate a redevelopment area, a governing body must first authorize the planning board by resolution, to determine whether the proposed area meets statutory criteria.

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Janota said that 43 properties were being examined within the study area, that were classified as mixed use residential and business. He added that a non-condemnation redevelopment study was to be conducted, without eminent domain, which refers to the power of a state or national government to take private property for public use.

"What we do in the first phase of the study is look at the properties to see if they meet one of the criteria for redevelopment," said Janota, as he displayed a zoning map of the area. "The second phase, if planning board adopts it, is that the council has to approve it. Then we put together a redevelopment plan and an overlay zone on top of the existing zone. The third phase is coming up with a plan for the area."

The areas of concentration include Main Street, Paterson Avenue and Maple Street. According, to Janota, the township adopted a master plan in June 2002, which entails that one of the major planning issues identified was to "maintain central business district vitality."

"As part of the master plan, we want to see how can we slow down traffic and direct traffic properly and reduce conflicts," he said, adding there have been no accommodations for pedestrians in the area and no pedestrian refuge in crosswalks. 

He also said he met with many property owners for feedback. Also being examined are improved walking parameters from the Transit Village to the downtown area.

Janota added that there are some properties that are in bad condition and under utilized.

"It's an opportunity to encourage that type of development," he explained. "It's always been what we can do to improve safety in the crosswalks citing the existing zoning in the area, which is comprised mostly of general businesses."

Parking improvements are one of the main focuses for development. 

"When I started working in this town eight years ago, I found parking to be difficult in the municipal area, especially around Paterson Avenue and Maple, including connecting sidewalks with parking areas," he added. "Parking is tight and needs to be more functional."

Additionally, he noted that the sidewalks in the vicinity of Main Street are narrow and do not give the public a sense of safety when walking in the area.

Mayor James Damiano spoke after the application's approval, which will now go before council members.

"This is one more step towards the township becoming revitalized and bringing the curb appeal back to Little Falls," he said.

Lot line adjustment for 155/139 Wilmore Road

Planning Board members also approved an application for a lot line adjustment at between 155 Wilmore Road and 139 Wilmore Road. The intent is to move the line in an effort to thwart future owners from trying to subdivide, according to John Veteri, local attorney. 

Brady 2005, LLC purchased the property from the estate of the Gorab family in 2016, located at 155 Wilmore Road.

"This house has been in the family and goes back to the 1800s and an agreement was made to not tear down this significant house," said Veteri. "What will happen here is that the lot line adjustment move will move the line so that both deeds will have restrictions against subdivisions, in terms of preserving both properties, one being an historic property."

Veteri added that the Twomey family are owners of the property at 139 Wilmore Road. He also stated no variances were being sought on either property.