PLAINFIELD, NJ - All City council members were present for July’s combined meeting to review and discuss a total of 19 resolutions and 6 ordinances listed on the agenda. Of the agenda items, those related to redevelopment garnered the most input from both the public and council members.
A resolution was passed on the second reading for the execution of a financial agreement with 829 South Urban Renewal, LLC and granting a tax exemption for the property (MC 2019-17). According to Valerie Jackson, Economic Development Director, approximately $115K to $155K in PILOT revenue will be generated for the first year which represents a significant increase over the existing municipal share of tax revenues. The property is located in a flood zone and the developer has committed to investing $2.5 million in construction to satisfy DEP requirements with the return on investment being much lower than most other local projects.
The proposed WaWa project was again on the agenda and was approved (R 243-19). Council member Davis inquired about possible repercussions if the resolution to designate South Terrill Urban Renewal, LLC as the redeveloper of the project was not approved. Development would continue without the guarantees of the city as outlined by the redevelopment agreement, per Jackson, without employment goals for local residents, street scape requirement, and overall construction schedule. There is no financial agreement associated with the project.
Davis expressed concern over the outreach to the public to inform the residents, many of whom turned out at a Planning Board meeting in early Spring to voice concerns.
R245-19 authorized the Planning Board to conduct an area in need of redevelopment study for the parking lot across from the former Muhlenberg Hospital on at 1204-1246 Park Ave. Storch and Armady raised issues regarding the vision for the redevelopment in conjunction with the overall Master Plan that is currently being revised. Storch recommended that prior to project approval by the Council, consideration be given to the need for additional residential projects and that not all proposals for redevelopment need to be accepted. Armady echoed Storch’s comments and suggested that council members follow the process closely and reiterated the need for commercial projects to support the new housing.
Jackson suggested that council members hold community forums to address constituent concerns throughout the process.
Concern was also raised over the proposed relocation of a bus stop on Terrill Road, between South Ave and 7th street. The change was requested by the county upon review of the Wawa project and due to the proximity of one of Wawa’s driveways. Council member Davis suggested that a map be included at the second reading to provide clarification of the new location.
One notable absence at the Council meeting was Carlos Sanchez, City Administrator. Municipal Clerk, Abubakar Jalloh, has been the designated Acting City Administrator for the past few weeks and made remarks on the city’s response to the recent storm that heavily impacted the city. Mayor Mapp added that the emergency plan in place was well executed under the leadership of the Acting Administrator and thanked the first responders and DPW.
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