Real Estate

Hartz Mountain Accuses Cranford Township Committee of Purposely Delaying Decision for Redevelopment

1a41cc9ff79147b66bd3_IMG_4276.JPG
Hartz Mountain Industries is attempting to rezone and develop 905 apartment units at 750 Walnut Avenue in Cranford, which is currently a commercial zone. Credits: Elizabeth Clee
cceeb8027d1b40c759f0_Screen_Shot_2017-08-29_at_6.00.16_PM.jpg
Cranford Township recently filed a motion that asks the state to find Cranford in compliance with its affordable housing obligations. Credits: https://cranford.com/affordable-housing-2/
5c3e16b4b8bfd4f86fe7_Screen_Shot_2017-08-30_at_5.14.23_PM.jpg
Cranford Township recently filed a motion that asks the state to find Cranford in compliance with its affordable housing obligations. Credits: https://cranford.com/affordable-housing-2/
1a41cc9ff79147b66bd3_IMG_4276.JPG

CRANFORD, NJ – Hartz Mountain Industries is accusing the Township of Cranford of attempting to stall their application for redevelopment of 750 Walnut Avenue.

Last month, the township filed a motion asking the state court to find that Cranford is still in compliance with its affordable housing obligations. Included in that application is a list of potential development sites for affordable housing, which includes 750 Walnut Avenue.

“I think a lot of people aren’t aware that the town’s own motion papers acknowledge that our site is suitable for multi-family development,” Jay Rhatican, Director of Land Use and Development for Hartz Mountain Industries, said.

Sign Up for E-News

In its motion, the township finds 750 Walnut Avenue suitable for development at 10 units per acre. Hartz Mountain applied to build 30 units per acre.

“Seemingly, the town is trying to set the potential development at our site for multi-family use and did it without letting anyone know,” Rhatican said. “They didn’t announce it [the motion] to the community until the August 15 township committee meeting and didn’t say anything to us. Because that motion implicates our property, we felt we had no need but to be involved. We’d like to be at the table. It’s certainly encouraging to see the town take that position in court papers to start.”

According to township attorney Ryan J. Cooper, the inclusion of 750 Walnut Avenue simply means the site can be used for affordable housing, not that it must be. Once the number for affordable housing is set by the state, the township must meet that number somehow.

“The township recognizes its affordable housing obligations under the law,” the township committee wrote in a public statement. “But that legal obligation also gives the township the right to choose how it complies. The township does not believe that it needs residential development on the 750 Walnut site to meet its affordable housing obligation.”

Following the township’s motion, Hartz Mountain filed a motion to intervene. According to Rhatican, Hartz wants to ensure that their request is considered by the state when making a ruling for Cranford’s affordable housing.

“We’d like a seat at the table,” he said.

The Cranford Township Committee heard Hartz’s presentation at its July 18 meeting. The committee has not yet announced a decision regarding the site’s redevelopment, which Rhatican feels is intentional.

“We attended the August 15 meeting at which a public statement was read,” Rhatican said. “At that time, the public was told that the township committee would reach out to us to ask for additional information. We have not heard a word from anyone. In the meantime, the township has asked to adjourn the motion it filed out to September 19. The town’s strategy clearly is to try to prolong our request for redevelopment until they can work out a settlement or reach a different court order with respect to its affordable housing.”

According to Cooper, that belief is false.

“It is simply untrue that the township has caused any delay,” Cooper said. “Hartz has repeatedly requested in writing that the planning board adjourn Hartz's application. Since May 30, when Hartz first made the request to also pursue a redevelopment designation, the township has moved with all deliberate speed to allow Hartz to present the relevant information. The Township Committee will make a decision on Hartz’s request only after responsibly considering all of the information.”

Rhatican believes the township is making the process more complicated than necessary.

“Hartz is disappointed that the town has used the litigation process to influence the development of our site rather than just sitting down and having a dialogue about what it feels is appropriate for the site,” Rhatican said.  “We think it’ll be a much smarter strategy to just talk to us rather than go the litigation route.”

According to Rhatican, the amount of resistance from Cranford residents is unprecedented compared to other projects.

“There’s more pushback here than any other project I’m aware of,” he said.

The pushback is obvious throughout Cranford and neighboring towns, with “Say no to 750 Walnut” signs standing proudly in front of homes and businesses. Additionally, the Cranford Board of Education recently passed a resolution against the redevelopment.

According to the resolution, the board believes 905 apartment units on Walnut Avenue would “adversely impact the school district and create a hardship in which the district is not equipped to support.”

Rhatican said that Hartz is still trying to determine the student demographics and school capacities for the district.

“The board gave us outdated numbers at first,” Rhatican said. “We tried to get the right one, and after several phone calls and emails, we had to file an Open Public Records Act [OPRA] request. They’re still trying to get the capacity numbers together.”

Rhatican said it is difficult to say what would happen if the impact on the school system appeared substantial, but that Hartz has worked with school districts in the past.

“We’re willing to work with the town and the board of education to mitigate any impact on the schools,” Rhatican said. “They’d have to ask us to do something, whether its make a separate contribution to the school board or provide special equipment. Those are requests that we’ve seen in other municipalities. But that would have to evolve from the Board of Education.”

Hartz’s previous multi-family projects were built in Secaucus, Jersey City and Weehawken.

“We acknowledge that this is a suburban area,” Rhatican said. “We understand that there are different concerns. Weehawken has a public school system just like Cranford and we’ve always been able to work with the town to figure out how to mitigate the impact.”

Rhatican also thinks residents have false beliefs about the tenants that the project would bring in.

“We’ve heard members of the public raise an apparent concern about renters as opposed to homeowners,” he said. “I think those concerns are based on misconceptions about renters. Renters are often involved in their communities. We invited the township committee to speak with mayors in other communities where we’ve built projects to learn about the communities. Elected officials have not done that.”

According to Rhatican, Hartz doesn’t expect to change Cranford’s character. He does not believe Cranford will become another Hoboken or Jersey City.

“We own one piece of property,” Rhatican said. “We’re not trying to shape the entire community. While I understand the concern, I don’t think that’s a real concern. The community is not going to change. The overall atmosphere and environment of Cranford is not going to change.”

The Township of Cranford’s motion is scheduled to be heard on September 19, 2017. To read the motion, click here.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

You Meet the Most Amazing People on the Trail

The weather cooperated this weekend, so I went for more than one hike. After all, there are only just over fifty days before my walk to Maine commences, so why not.

This Saturday, some friends dragged me away from housecleaning (thank you!) for a quick jaunt through Watchung Reservation.  While we were there, we ran into two individuals from Westfield; the cosplayers introduced themselves ...

Go Take a Walk

Friday, March 30 was Take a Walk in the Park Day, so I did.  I really didn't have an excuse to not do so; the sun was shining, I had the day off, and I had no plans for the rest of the day.  So after a session with Abbe, my trainer at LifeTime Fitness, I made the short trip to Lake Surprise in Watchung Reservation. 

As I made my way around the lake, it was easy to see how ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_e72c4a9e1dfde31bc6f1_vet1

Wed, May 23, 8:00 AM

Plainfield City Hall Library, Plainfield

Kickoff Breakfast to Launch Plainfield Veterans ...

Other

Carousel_image_03f7e31b319ddd115b05_may_children_room

Wed, May 23, 3:30 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

"Who Done It?" Mystery Program

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_b5b50f86b329a7f607eb_national_ems_week

Wed, May 23, 6:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

National EMS Week with Plainfield Rescue Squad ...

Health & Wellness

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...

Union County Celebrates National Trails Day with Free Guided Hikes and Activities, June 2

May 22, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders invites residents and visitors of all ages to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of National Trails Day at the Watchung Reservation on Saturday, June 2, where the County’s Trailside Nature & Science Center will host four different guided hikes and an Adopt-a-Trail volunteer activity along with special programs throughout the day for all ages. The ...

Peru Claims 1-0 Victory Over Colombia as Soccer Legends Show Off Skills in Paterson

May 20, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- During their playing days Carlos Valderama and Julio Uribe led their teams to victory in some of the largest soccer stadiums across the globe. On Saturday, the men, known better as “El Pibe” and Uribe, brought their talents to Paterson’s Baurele Field.

The rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the nearly 500 fans who turned out to watch these beloved players ...

La campaña alimentaria anual de los carteros está lista para el 12 de mayo en todo el país

May 11, 2018

WASHINGTON, 2 de mayo de 2018 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- La Asociación Nacional de Carteros (National Association of Letter Carriers, NALC) llevará a cabo la 26ª edición anual de su campaña alimentaria el sábado 12 de mayo.

La campaña alimentaria Stamp Out Hunger® es la más grande con duración de un día en todo ...

School’s Out: Your Exclusive Summer Getaway Guide

May 22, 2018

Summer... a time to do whatever you please without having the stress of school or work.

But like many others, you may find yourself unsure of how to spend your summer days. So, if you’re looking for something cool to do when it’s hot, consider these ideas:

Get Cultured: Metropolitan Museum of Art: If you’re fascinated with art of all sorts from classic to modern, then this ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)

 

How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless waste of life; a war in which the United States had no business participating.

The Truth About My Reading

The Truth About My Reading

I didn't get my Composition and Literature teacher at Montclair State College at all. A crusty old man with a dour disposition, Mr. Smith always seemed angry and rude. He appropriately intimidated freshmen, even me, an English major, who found this common core course beneath my dignity. Frankly, as a graduate of Highland Park High School, and a survivor of Mrs.

The German Girl

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (Washington Square Press, 2016)

For each of the twelve million victims murdered during World War II there is a gutwrenching story to be told. I have read hundreds of memoirs, biographies, plays, and novels that recount the stories of the martyrs; some are exceptional, some are fair. The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa, an award-winning journalist, ...