PLAINFIELD, NJ - Plainfield residents turned out for a community meeting hosted by Councilman Charles McCrae to introduce the Master Plan process. Residents learnt about the review process and anticipated timeline and were able to ask questions. Valerie Jackson, Economic Development Director, Ron Scott Bey, Chairman of the Planning Board, as well as representatives from the Nishuane Group LLC facilitated the meeting.
What is a Master Plan? A blueprint for what a municipality can be, stated Jackson, and called it the overarching guiding planning document for the City of Plainfield. The existing plan was last updated a decade ago in 2009 and current NJ State Statute requires the plan to be re-examined and updated if necessary every 10 years. The plan falls under the jurisdiction of the City’s Planning Board and is the only document adopted by the Board and not the Council. Bill Nierstedt is the City of Plainfield’s Project Manager for the Master Plan.
The process began in January with a request for proposals issued for consultants. From the pool of applicants received three firms were selected by a master plan committee: Nishuane Group LLC as the lead consultant with support of H2M to manage the distribution of information on the website and Timothy Haas as parking and transportation experts. The firms were selected according technical expertise, knowledge of Plainfield and prior experience with master plans, community engagement, cost and approach.
A few of the goals of the plan are to address issues such as attracting millennials to downtown and the train stations and what will the future of Plainfield look like.
New elements to be added to the Master Plan include:
- Economic Development
- Green Buildings and Environment
According to Jackson, monthly meetings will be conducted in the form of cherettes to discuss elements of the plan with planners on hand to capture information. Surveys will be administered both online and at the meetings. Public outreach will occur in each Ward. Jackson stated that the process will be open and inclusive and input from key stakeholders in the community will be needed in the process.
Process is anticipated to take a year to complete and City has already been gathering and providing data to the consultants.
A link will be available on the City’s website to provide the residents with continuous updates on the process and master plan representatives will be present at large community events, such as the upcoming PMUA’s Environmental Fair with information tables.
During the Q & A portion of the community meeting concerns were raised about reaching the large Hispanic segment of the population as traditional outreach may not be effective. Jackson stated that the City already has bi-lingual resources in place such including a specific point person, Jeanette Aparicio, to work with the businesses and documentation will be translated as well.
Mary Burgwinkle, Vice Chair of Zoning Board, mentioned a few items for the committee to consider during the review process related to infill development and voiced concern over over-building in Plainfield. According to Burgwinkle, “Having a Master Plan is a good thing but we don’t have to spot zone everything a developer wants.”
Jackson commented that development must be strategic and the City is committed to transit oriented development so there will be higher density around train stations. The master plan is about shaping the future of Plainfield.
A suggestion was made that existing resources around the Green Brook trail as well as the railroads be considered for light industrial and additional commercial.
Girard Hazel, project manager with the Nishuane Group, described the master plan as a high level document. “There is not an aspect of life that is not touched upon within the master plan. The process is data driven along with community input” he stated.
Mayor Mapp added the importance of having as much participation as possible by conducting the meetings in all corners of the City so as to have a transparent process.
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