South Orange Plans Workshop on Special Improvement District

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"I am truly touched by this honor," Steven Hollow tells the South Orange Board of Trustees after being named Villager of the Month at Monday's meeting. (Photo: Ana Martinez)
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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The Board of Trustees tabled an ordinance calling for the creation of a Special Improvement District in South Orange at its meeting Monday night and scheduled a special workshop to discuss the organization and its budget for Dec. 6.

The ordinance for the SID was presented Monday night for its first reading. A Special Improvement District would be funded through a tax on businesses included in the district, and the funds would be used to improve downtown. The creation of a SID was recommended by an advisory committee that submitted a report to the trustees earlier this year.

The Dec. 6 workshop, scheduled for 8 p.m., will be open to the public.

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Local business owners are divided on whether the village should establish a SID in South Orange. Some say the SID will provide a better-funded effort for downtown development, while others oppose having to pay a special assessment. Under statutes covering a SID, business owners are not allowed to opt out of a district.

In other legislative action, an ordinance to establish a Historic Preservation Committee was referred to the Planning and Zoning Committee.

Village counsel Steven Rother noted that the ordinance he drafted was designed to serve more as an advisory ordinance. He said there is “a significant amount of education that needs to be done” regarding the ordinance.

Trustee Janine Bauer said that said she thought the committee would be a better forum for that kind of discussion since it was “not as formal as a podium.”

Amy Dahn addressed the trustees, saying that South Orange has many historical treasures that should be preserved. “It would be burdening a planning board by giving them the work of a commission,” she said.

The draft of the ordinance can be viewed on the village’s website at: http://southorange.gotdns.org/weblink7/DocView.aspx?id=101210

In other action:

  • the Villager of the Month Award was presented to Steven Hollow, a resident of South Orange since 1991. Hollow, a teaching artist, puppeteer and storyteller, was honored for his achievements in art education and his involvement in the village’s First Night, which will celebrate its 20th year on Dec. 31.
     
  • Diane Malloy, the executive director of YouthNet, a nonprofit organization that works with children from South Orange and Maplewood, gave a quarterly report to the board. She noted more than 250 children are enrolled in various enrichment programs. In addition, the South Orange Maplewood School District accepted YouthNet’s proposal to provide an after-school program, which has enrolled 63 students at the South Orange Middle School.

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