CRANFORD, NJ - During last night's meeting, the Cranford Township Committee prepared a written statement regarding 750 Walnut Avenue that was read by township attorney Ryan J. Cooper.
The full statement can be read below:
The Township Committee is carefully considering Hartz’s request to designate 750 Walnut Avenue as an area in need of redevelopment. Since last month’s meeting, the Township Committee has been in contact with relevant Township personnel and outside advisors on the issues raised by Hartz’s request. Last night, the Township Committee met, and for the first time since Hartz’s presentation had an opportunity to discuss the request collectively as a committee. In the meantime, we have been informed that Hartz has further requested that its application before the Planning Board be adjourned.
The Township Committee is mindful that Hartz has not asked the Township Committee to designate 750 Walnut simply as an area in need of redevelopment, but rather has asked to pursue redevelopment specifically to allow a 900+ unit development, and to pursue redevelopment before the Planning Board considers Hartz’s re-zoning application.
The Township recognizes its affordable housing obligations under the law. But that legal obligation also gives the Township the right to choose how it complies. The Township has filed a motion in Superior Court to take measures to assure that it maintains compliance with its affordable housing obligations, given certain changed circumstances over the past year or two. As stated in that motion, the Township does not believe that it needs residential development on the 750 Walnut site to meet its affordable housing obligation.
Nonetheless, we are going to maintain an open mind until we have a full understanding of the potential costs and benefits of the Hartz proposal and, most importantly, how this development would impact the residents and businesses in town. Therefore, the Township Committee must weigh Hartz’s request very carefully and will not rush to make a decision, either for or against, without all of the information the Committee believes it needs. Hartz has not yet made the case in favor of its request; the Township Committee has significant questions that are as yet unanswered. In the coming days, we will be contacting Hartz for that information.
Accordingly, the Township Committee will not be making a decision impacting 750 Walnut Avenue tonight. The Township Committee wants to also reassure its residents that no decision will be made without full and open public participation.