PLAINFIELD, NJ — A legal notice posted Friday states Plainfield's Planning Board will conduct a virtual public hearing Thursday, August 6, to consider adopting a Comprehensive Master Plan Update that would replace the existing one, last done a decade ago, in its entirety. 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.
According to the notice, the Planning Board does intend to take formal action regarding the Comprehensive Master Plan Update, and may adopt it.
The Master Plan process was introduced to the public at a community meeting in August 2019. Economic Development Director Valerie Jackson said the Master Plan is a blueprint for what a municipality can be, and called it the overarching guiding planning document for the City of Plainfield.
Four public sessions, one in each Ward, were conducted in 4th quarter 2019. Feedback from the community was sought on the vision for the city's future land use, development, housing, transportation, sustainability, parks, and more.
Residents also had the option to submit feedback via an online survey, and there were 5,358 responses. A quick snapshot of the online survey results shows:
- 73% of respondents were 55 and older
- Respondents were asked to rate issues and trends affecting the Queen City - Important/Very Important:
- The condition of downtown (92%), and the preservation of homes and neighborhoods (92%);
- The condition of parks and recreational facilities (88%), and the importance of bicycle and pedestrian safety (77%);
- The maintenance of water and sewer infrastructures (89%), flooding in residential neighborhoods (89%), and environmental protection/sustainability (88%);
- The redevelopment of underutilized parts of the city (84%);
- The reliability of public transportation (80%);
- Affordability of housing (79%);
- Asked how respondents view new development, people said:
- After being here for almost 2 decades, I don't believe that the town has kept up with macro-level changes in this part of NJ. The town has not been successful in attracting diverse developers capable of improving the overall services available to residents in town, and the quality of life in town has not improved at a rate in keeping with surrounding areas. By comparison, the downtown area continues to be under-used and unattractive, other less desirable areas outside of downtown have continued to crumble and very little has been done to drive development in these areas. On South Avenue, the one area that likely didn't need so much 'development' the concentrated effort seems erratically planned, with an over-scale residential project with no retail or other points of interest to benefit the overall community, and the future development of a gas station/ convenience store next to another convenience store and in close proximity to two gas stations that it will likely put out of business. Seems like very little forward thinking has been made about how these projects effect each other and the service levels for residents. Frankly, mind-boggling how this ever came to fruition.
- Appears to be developer driven — resident / taxpayer desires and sound development strategies not a priority
- South Avenue and Muhlenberg development is good, but need focus on Downtown/Front Street corridor. Most middle class residents spend no time or money Downtown. “Nothing there for me”
- Redevelopment is a good thing but Plainfield has too many new apartments going up
- Over 1 in 2 (53%) consider an increased tax base a major benefit to new construction in the city; however, one commenter said, "Careful about offering increased tax base as an option in case of abatements and other incentives that result in no revenue increase."
- 47% consider the re-use of underutilized/derelict properties a benefit; 45% consider the improved overall aesthetics of the town, and 44% consider more economic activity/support for existing local business.
- Major challenges related to new construction include traffic (67%), a change in community character (44%), an impact on schools (42%), and an impact on services (42%).
- 82% encourage/strongly encourage single-family residential development, 80% encourage/strongly encourage senior housing, and 64% encourage/strongly encourage affordable housing.
- One survey question asked about unsafe intersections or other locations, with respondents saying downtown and the train stations feel unsafe at night, Myrtle and Rock avenues due to school backups, and Belvidere Avenue and East 7th Street on the way to the Netherwood Train Station (TAPinto Plainfield documented two accidents at this intersection earlier this month, and in February.)
- Almost 1 in 2 (47%) said they use the Plainfield or Netherwood train stations; those who don't said there aren't enough one-seat ride options into New York City, and other stations are cleaner and offer more parking and sense of security.
- Fair to poor perceptions of parking in Plainfield include the availability of parking in the downtown (60%), the condition of parking lots/spaces (53%), the security of parking lots (50%), and communication on where parking lots are located (50%).
- Almost half (45%) of the respondents said in a typical month, they rarely shop or use services in Plainfield; 20% said they do so daily or almost daily.
- Sustainability programs/actions respondents are in favor of include increasing tree plantings by the Shade Tree Commission (66%); making sure there are energy efficiency upgrades to all municipal buildings (50%); providing local incentives for businesses that "go green" (48%); creating a Sustainable Jersey green team, with certification (43%); and requiring new developments to use green building techniques (43%).
- 86% of respondents believe Historic Preservation is a worthwhile goal for the city, and 48% would support the designation of their property as historic if it met the criteria.
According to the legal notice, a copy of the Comprehensive Master Plan Update will be available at least ten days prior to the hearing HERE.
Join the Zoom meeting on Thursday, August 6 at 7 p.m. HERE. The Webinar ID is 969 0071 1068, and the password is pl2020. Registration is not required.
Join by phone: US: +1 312 626 6799; or +1 646 558 8656; or +1 301 715 8592; or +1 346 248 7799; or +1 669 900 9128; or +1 253 215 8782. Webinar ID: 969 0071 1068, and Password: 436143. Individuals accessing the meeting by phone can comment by dialing *9 and waiting for the host to unmute them.
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