SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Seton Hall University was granted an extension of the approval for an addition and renovation to the University Center; the action was taken at the May 4 South Orange Planning Board meeting. Seton Hall’s extension was granted for one year, and their attorney stated that it would be the final extension requested. The original approval was given on July 6, 2016.
The meeting had three additional applications scheduled; however at request of applicants their applications were held over to the June 1 meeting.
Village Trustee Bob Zuckerman gave the Economic Development Committee’s report. He said that letters are going out to those residential and commercial properties who continue to have unrepaired code violations. Those who are in violation will receive a letter advising that after the State of Emergency they will be given consideration and time to remediate the items in violation.
He noted that these are very challenging times to the food and retail sector. There could well be a 30 percent vacancy rate after the pandemic, he warned. He said Julie Doran, executive director of South Orange Village Center Alliance, is doing a great job with merchants and property owners, helping them get SBA and PPP loans. He suggested that shopping local promotions and getting food to go as well as local gift cards are helping local businesses.
Every Saturday of May and June will be Small Business Saturdays, said Doran to the Board. She said many property owners are working with the tenants on rent issues. SOVCA continues its street cleaning program to keep the town looking inviting and that local businesses are making delivery directly to homes daily. Doran noted that residents would get better service shopping locally than online, and there is very little that can’t be gotten locally.
The draft of the Master Plan has been sent to Village Administrator Adam Loehner and Village President Sheena Collum, Board Planner/Zoning Official Greer Patras reported, and she said she will walk them through it. The document will then be reviewed by the committee and the Planning Board.
Patras said the updated Master Plan supports fast recovery coming out of COVID-19 quarantine, with flexible zoning offering more diversification for future development. She noted that South Orange is positioned to handle recovery better than other towns because of new zoning rules, as more housing diversity and office options are long-term better for the town. Doran concurred, and said flexible zoning will be important for recovery.
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