SPRINGFIELD, NJ - The Springfield Planning Board approved recommendations to amend the Township’s Master Plan at its May 3, 2017 meeting.

Township Planner Robert Michaels prepared the recommendations, which were previously submitted in a report dated February 16, 2017. He also provided a summary of the recommendations in an oral presentation to the Board at the meeting.

Officially styled as a “Master Plan Reexamination and Update,” Mr. Michaels explained that all New Jersey municipalities are required to perform such a reexamination every ten years. The Township last performed a reexamination in 2005, so it was due for another one.

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The main thrust of the recommendations were changes made to zoning to accommodate the new affordable housing requirements imposed on the Township in its recent settlement on that same subject. Amongst other adjustments, he noted that roughly eight and a half acres of land originally zoned for office buildings in the Park Place development has now been reallocated for multi-family housing.

The Board accepted Mr. Michaels’ recommendations in a unanimous vote.

In a subsequent discussion, Board Member Victoria Sarracino reported on her investigation of municipal signage requirements and guidelines for businesses. She noted that she had approached Red Bank and Livingston to learn their methods of creating guidelines, including a sample ordinance from Livingston.

“The conversation really centered around the aesthetics,” noted Sarracino. Businesses subject to any prospective requirement would be subject to Planning Board approval, that their signage for a new business fits within the requirements.

Chairman Jerry Fernandez expressed concern about creating requirements which were too restrictive and imposed a burden on the business. “I hate when we put certain restrictions on property owners and business owners,” he said.

In contrast, Vice Chairman Paul Schneier described discussions about signage as “the tail wagging the dog,” noting that even many municipalities with train stations are still struggling in their downtowns, and that the emphasis should be about attracting tenants. He also repeated his earlier position that the Mountain Avenue should have been the focus of redevelopment, instead of Morris Avenue.

The Board also unanimously passed a resolution confirming a previously approved facade changes for the Olive Garden on Route 22, without discussion.

There were no applications before the planning board. The next planning board meeting will take place on Wednesday, June 7th, at 7:00 p.m.