Business & Finance

Scotch Plains Hosts Downtown Redevelopment Committee at SPFHS

2aaca2d077ccda9f096d_DSC_0332.jpg
Mayor Al Smith presented his vision of the future of downtown at the Scotch Plains Downtown Redevelopment Committee meeting on Weds, July 19. Credits: John Mooney
76d51429b7cf28e12e25_DSC_0338.jpg
Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith explains the township's COAH (affordable housing) obligations. Credits: John Mooney
edb78622e6eb4f641e17_DSC_0327.jpg
Map of downtown Scotch Plains Credits: John Mooney
c59a1794eaa0bca2ab50_DSC_0343.jpg
Urban planner Credits: John Mooney
88a8729dcd89fc3e9b7f_DSC_0349.jpg
Deputy Mayor Llewellyn Jones Credits: John Mooney
fd385c862092a6bc3a42_DSC_0362.jpg
Scotch Plains Deputy Mayor Llewellyn Jones points to an area of downtown redevelopment as he talks with residents. Credits: John Mooney
a3ac19cfeb2298c4fca3_DSC_0373.jpg
a20d88e7488785509458_DSC_0336.jpg
Although Scotch Plains has a mix of architecture styles, uniformity could be achieved through use of awnings such as those at the Cranford Hotel. Credits: John Mooney
8f8b28eee1e937a6f8ed_DSC_0328.jpg
Slide outlines how residents of Scotch Plains can get involved with downtown redevelopment. Credits: John Mooney
2aaca2d077ccda9f096d_DSC_0332.jpg

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith walked a crowded audience through a presentation that outlined his vision of the future of the township at a meeting of the Scotch Plains Redevelopment Committee on Wednesday, July 19, at SPFHS.

Mayor Smith began the presentation by explaining the township's COAH (affordable housing) obligations. From 1999 to 2015 COAH did not provide towns with guidelines on the number of affordable housing units they should add. In 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered that towns must go to the courts to settle their fair share requirements including the gap between 1999 and 2015.  Courts have ruled that 15 to 20 percent of housing in each town in New Jersey must be designated as affordable.

"The courts don't care about our infrastructure, fire department capabilities or schools," Mayor Smith said. "I have no idea how (hundreds of new COAH units) will impact our school system. Some believe little impact to none; I don't believe it."

Sign Up for E-News

Mayor Smith explained that courts are monitoring Scotch Plains and all other towns in the state to ensure they meet their COAH obligations. While the township doesn't have a final figure, the total number of units Scotch Plains needs to build will be somewhere around 450. They should be constructed in the next 8 to 10 years. 

"At a 15% rate for new construction projects, we would see around 3,000 new housing units built in Scotch Plains to meet our COAH requirements. That would be about 6,000 more people," Mayor Smith explained, adding that the town does indeed need to add some affordable housing.

The mayor said the people living in the units would include a mix of "seniors who are looking to downsize and live downtown; low and moderate income families; Millennials just starting out on their own; and adults with special needs." He added that in Cranford, housing units that many people thought would be filled by commuters have been taken by empty nesters.

Smith introduced the audience to Victor Vinegra of Harbor Consultants, who explained that Scotch Plains has to take a proactive look at its affordable housing obligations and address the issue first. He also said the township's downtown lacked uniformity with its mix of architectural styles, some dating back to the American Revolution. 

"We'd like to see some uniformity, such as the awnings at Darby Road," said Bonegra, adding that Scotch Plains has ample property on which to build.

Traffic problems were also addressed. Mayor Smith said that Union County considers Park Avenue -- an artery with just one lane each way -- to be a "primary road" in the heart of downtown on which 3,500 trucks roll each day. Meanwhile, Terrill Road is considered a secondary road. Approximately 2,500 trucks rumble along Terrill Road daily.

Citizens had the opportunity to come to the microphone towards the end of the meeting. They raised issues with the concept of eminent domain ("I don't like the government telling us what to do."), incorporations of the arts (perhaps a theater or a gallery venue) and the benefits of "inclusive architecture" that maintains the character of the township's history.

For the time being, the section of Scotch Plains for which eminent domain would be applied is  the Tier 1 section bordered in green on the map displayed at the meeting, which includes Park Ave. and parts of Second Street.

Former Councilwoman Colleen Gialanella  approached the mic and stated: "So many neighboring communities have made strides in their downtown areas. It's illogical (given Scotch Plains' demographics) that we have not," Gialanella said. "Our plan has to look at how the needs of commuters are changing. More people are working from home. They want to purchase goods and get services downtown. These are things that we have to get into the plan for the future."

TAPintoSPF.net is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNewsand follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Update: Health Authorities Still Investigating Flu Death of Elizabeth Schoolgirl

February 19, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The New Jersey Department of Health is continuing to investigate the cause of the passing of elementary school student Daniela Genaro after it was confirmed that the student had been diagnosed with influenza. Officials said it "presently remains unclear whether or not the virus was the primary contributing factor to the child's passing."

In a second letter ...

Sinai or Sanctuary?

 

 

And in the beginning, G‑d was homeless, and so G‑d asked His people to set Him up with some digs. Where does it say that? Well, nowhere, actually. But it does say that G‑d instructed Moses to tell the people, “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

Now the question is, was G‑d really homeless? ...

The Definition of Insanity

February 21, 2018

Dear Editor:

There is a quote, attributed to various people, including Albert Einstein that states, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”, that is fitting for our current election for Union County Democratic Committee (UCDC) chair.

There is no shortage of polling data related to the functioning of our Federal, ...

Being Alone on Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2018

Valentine’s Day is a day filled with Hallmark cards, chocolate covered strawberries, red roses and special dining.  It’s a day to express our love and affection to those close to us.  Some of us have expectations that this day will be blissful, we may even receive that diamond ring that represents engagement or marriage.

Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful time if ...

Boys Basketball: Union Catholic Freshmen Capture Title at N.J. Rising Stars Basketball Classic

February 21, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ -- The Union Catholic boys freshmen avenged an early season loss to Elizabeth by defeating the Minutemen, 46-43, to capture the title at the prestigious N.J. Rising Stars Basketball Classic on Tuesday night at the Dunn Center in Elizabeth.

UC, which also defeated Ridge on Saturday and avenged a loss last week to Roselle Catholic on Sunday, was clinging to a ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_8e821e02ba44390d688c_olympics_oh_feb_2018

Thu, February 22, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend "Wacky Winter Olympics" Open House

Other

Carousel_image_cc1c66d127cc0cab9c54_hamantashen

Thu, February 22, 4:00 PM

JCC, Scotch Plains

4th Annual Family Hamantash Bake

Carousel_image_97368eb92d0feb35caf6_img_0082

Thu, February 22, 5:00 PM

Barnes & Noble, Clark

Purim Story& Crafts Hour at Barnes & Noble

Education