SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — The Scotch Plains Downtown Redevelopment Committee reviewed and voted to approve the Snuffy's/Pantagis property redevelopment plan at its meeting this week. The committee was assigned by the Scotch Plains Council to develop a draft plan that has to be adopted by ordinance that will change the zoning on the the Snuffy's site. The committee also selects the developer and the builder. Zoning has to be approved first before it goes to the Planning Board for site plan approval.
The 5 ½ acre lot is now planned to be the site of a 29,000 sq. ft. Lidl supermarket and a park-and-ride facility, which will enable Scotch Plains to apply for Transit Village status. Receiving the designation will enable the Township to apply for grants and other funding from the state.
The Township is also negotiating to secure approximate 51 parking spots for park-and-ride at the lot. Commuters, some of whom may walk to the lot, will then be able to catch a NJ Transit bus into Manhattan's Port Authority bus terminal as an alternative option to taking the NJ Transit train from Fanwood into Penn Station New York. The lot would also have an additional building that would house up to three tenants.
“It’s been decades since we have had a grocery store downtown,” said Tom Strowe, who is the downtown redevelopment coordinator for Scotch Plains. “Why Lidl? It’s a private property, and we cannot pick a particular grocery store. Redevelopment law allows us to regulate architecture and parking, but not who is selected.”
Lidl has an agreement with property owners (Snuffy's/Pantagis) to develop and rent a building. This will result in new tax ratables and will create an estimated 100 jobs in the town. The parking lot will help alleviate commuters parking on Mountain Ave. There will also be a second building that can house up to three business tenants (with no drive-though businesses); no residential units will be part of this redevelopment plan.”
“There will be traffic studies at the developer’s expense. What we are here to talk about is a concept plan, basically a zoning road map,” Strowe said. “The final site plan will have to be approved by the Planning Board at a public hearing.”
Residents who live within 200 feet of the Snuffy's site will receive letters inviting them to the Council and the Planning Board public hearings on the redevelopment plan.
Leigh Fleming of Harbor Consultants, the Scotch Plains Township planning firm, presented changes on the big screens at the Council chambers. She highlighted a new rendering submitted by Lidl what showed a building constructed primarily of brick and glass. The concept plan does not include lighting and other issues. Those topics would be discussed later by the Planning Board at a public hearing.
Members of the public asked questions about environmental impact and whether the 51 spots are enough for a park-and-ride.
The Township Council is expected to discuss the Lidl plan at an upcoming meeting.