Business & Finance

Springfield Township Committee Meeting: Developer Chosen for Third Redevelopment Project

Rendering of Redevelopment Plan Credits: Ellen Dickson
Township Committee Meeting Credits: Ellen Dickson

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - The Township Committee chaired by Deputy Mayor Maria Vassallo was presented a Redevelopment Plan by Matthew Jessup Redevelopment Counsel and Keenan Hughes the Redevelopment Planner for Block 207, lots 1 and 2 commonly known as the Century 21 Building and a municipal lot on the corner of Morris Avenue and Church Mall.  A rendering of the plan pictured above details a first take of what the development could look like.

The design was agreed upon to be conservative and historic in keeping with the nature of what the Township and Business Improvement District desires.  Keenan Hughes, the Planner testified that this design is “...really exciting.  It implements a lot of the themes of mixed use development and more residential units downtown."  He went on to say, “This corner could be construed as the Gateway to downtown.  The goal will be to create an architecturally interesting iconic image in that space. This element will be discussed with the developer.”

Key land use standards on this parcel permit first floor retail and residential above.  The development could handle up to 24 apartment units, mostly one and two bedrooms, with parking.  Retail could include cafes, restaurants and other stores.

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Parking concerns for the project were aired. Township Administrator Ziad Shehady mentioned he has been meeting with representatives of the Church and other residents of Church Mall to hear their concerns.

Sail, LLC  was chosen to be the conditional developer for what is formally know as Block 207, lots 1 and 2.  A resolution was passed that authorizes the execution of a Conditional Redeveloper’s Agreement.  This puts a timetable for a more fully developed plan.  The plan does go back one more time to the Planning Board for final approval and then the project can begin.

On other matters, a second ordinance increased the licensing fee for hotel/motel rooms to $40 from $35 per unit.

A resolution to confirm the appointment of Michael Butrico as Assistant Recreation Director filled a position vacated in December.  Butrico is currently employed in Mountainside in the Recreation Department.  He was chosen as one of seventy candidates and was described by Township Administrator Shehady as “charismatic, energetic and enthusiastic”.

Under discussion and action items the proposed facility improvement at the Community Pool was discussed. Township Committeeman Rich Huber had three points he wanted to make sure he covered. The first was to make sure to check the water table.  He wants a project management company to oversee the project and he wants it brought in well under budget at $2 million. Township Committeewoman Erica DuBois said she, “...just wanted to do my due diligence and want to feel comfortable with my decision”. The Township will now move forward to look at financing options.

During public comments Pastor Dave Knecht approached the podium to discuss the pool project. He encouraged the Township Committee to “get this deal done”.  He went on to state Springfield “...has one of the best sites for the pool and it really makes this town worth living in.  It is something that Springfield could be proud of”.  Another resident said he grew up in Springfield and has moved back and bought a house.  He said he “...hadn’t been to the pool since 1985."  After seeing it the other day, he said, "It hasn’t changed one bit.  We have to move forward.”

The Pilgrim Pipeline was brought up for discussion. The intent was to support other towns that are opposing the pipeline. The discussion was evenly divided for the resolution with Huber and DuBois supporting the protest resolution and Bujnowski and Vassallo opposed to the resolution.

The Business Improvement District requested permission to move the summer concerts to the area in front of City Hall. That request was granted.

Police Chief John Cook made several comments.  There was an active shooter drill that was successfully completed at the Township Hall.  An officer attended a certification to determine how to diagnose people under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  He then reported that an elderly woman in Springfield had an imposter enter her home posing as a utility worker and was scared off.  The Chief reminded residents to always be wary about letting people into their homes.

Fire Chief Carlo Palumbo reported that they are looking to move forward on the new radio system. He is hoping it is operational in mid- June.

Township Administrator Shehady spoke of the efforts of the newly hired grant writer.  They have applied for multiple grants and various infrastructure projects will be underway. Check the website for updates.

The next Township Committee Meeting is April 18.

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