PLAINFIELD - Plainfield’s Planning Board agreed to declare a busy section of South Avenue “in need of redevelopment” Thursday, setting the stage for the governing body to order a redevelopment plan.

Dubbed South Avenue East, the nine lots at South Avenue’s Terrill Road border are currently occupied by several restaurants, a shopping center, and other businesses. Shawna Ebanks of Nishuane Group, LLC presented a detailed rationale for the “in need” designation, the result of a study which the City Council had ordered. Ebanks noted findings by the city’s Inspections, Health and Police divisions in her presentation, but said some sites were “not detrimental,” just “needed for redevelopment.”

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The lots, on both sides of South Avenue near a 212-unit residential development, also met criteria for “smart growth,” the study indicated.

One lot at the south corner of Terrill Road and South Ave, occupied by a 7-Eleven, was not included in the study. Resident Nancy Piwowar asked why, and the answer was that the City Council had not asked for it to be included. An adjacent lot at 500-516 Terrill Road was included.

Only one property owner was represented at the hearing.  Attorney Patrick McNamara, representing Plainfield South Avenue Center Associates, said nowhere did the draft study state a “non-condemnation” clause.

Such a clause would mean there was no intent to take the property by eminent domain. Ebanks had mentioned the non-condemnation clause would be added if the study was adopted. 

McNamara said his client was “very concerned” and wanted “to control its own destiny rather than by a developer.” He asked the board to “decline to vote tonight,” but board chairman Ron Scott Bey responded, “Thank you very much for your time.” 

The center currently includes a supermarket and a beauty supply store and spans more than three acres of the 6.72-acre study site.

Board members Horace Baldwin, Anthony Howard, Carmencita Pile, Sean McKenna, William Toth, Siddeeq El-Amin, Barry Person, Bey and Council President Charles McRae all voted “yes” to approve the study. The City Council may next ask the Planning Board to prepare a redevelopment plan. The next City Council meeting is an agenda-fixing session on Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m. in Municipal Court., 325 Watchung Ave. is Plainfield's free online daily newspaper for Plainfield, NJ news. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook, Twitter @PlainfieldTAP, and on Instagram @tapintoplainfield for all of your Plainfield local news.

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