PLAINFIELD, NJ – Plainfield City Council members quickly got down to business on Monday to vote and adopt many of the items that had been discussed at the agenda setting meeting. However, 'roles and responsibilities' was a new item that was added to the agenda, most likely as a result of last week's Planning Board meeting that had been abruptly suspended for fire code violations. The item was introduced by Corporation Council David L. Minchello.
Economic Development Director Valerie Jackson explained roles and responsibilities under New Jersey’s Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:12A) as it specifically pertains to Plainfield. “Here in Plainfield, the Council is the governing body, as well as the redevelopment entity.”
Jackson continued to address confusion around the redevelopment process versus the role of the Planning Board, clarifying that once the board is instructed to conduct a study of the area in need of redevelopment, recommendations are made to the council and the plan is adopted by ordinance, requiring two readings.
Once redevelopment agreements are executed with developers, the city cooperates to facilitate the redevelopment of a particular site, and may include exercising the use of eminent domain as a tool if negotiations fail between the developer and the landowner.
Jackson mentioned that the role of the Planning Board is very limited, essentially to determine blight or an area in need of redevelopment. “Be rest assured that we are following requirements and procedures of the law," she said.
Plainfield resident Mary Burgwinkle commented during public comment, saying that she did not think there was public “confusion” on the roles of the Planning Board, but rather a need for a forum that would allow for public comments to tell the administration how they feel as taxpayer monies would be used for condemnation.
Prior to the meeting's adjournment, Jackson stated that taxpayers would not be funding the use of eminent domain to facilitate redevelopment.
Other issues raised included traffic issues with 4-way stop signs that will be addressed with a Police Department presentation at a future council meeting once specific traffic data is obtained.
Plainfield’s new School Superintendent, Dr. Diana Mitchell, along with Acting Superintendent Mark Williams, were also in attendance, and were introduced to the council by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp. “It is refreshing to see the superintendent at one of the Council meetings, and I don’t recall ever seeing a superintendent at any council meetings,” Mapp said.
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