UNION, NJ – At their November 18 meeting, the Union Planning Board unanimously approved a recommendation to request the Township Committee review information about a stretch of Springfield Avenue and deem it an ‘area in need of rehabilitation’.

According to Kendra Lelie of Kyle & McManus Associates, deeming an area in need of rehabilitation, unlike areas in need of redevelopment, generally indicates that “repair, reconstruction or renovation of existing structures” is warranted.  Lelie said deeming an area in need of rehabilitation is “not necessarily a wholehearted removal of structures with new development, although new construction could be a part of it.  It’s really looking at the rehabilitation of existing structures.”

The area in question runs along Springfield Avenue from Vauxhall Road to the Maplewood border and includes all properties fronting on Springfield Avenue, broken up into two sections.  One section runs from Vauxhall Road to the Maple Avenue/Miller Street intersection, which includes nine parcels and is three acres in size.  According to Lelie, the area is home to a gas station, convenience store, restaurants, some residential structures and an oil company.  She stated the dwellings in this section are more set back from the roadway and has a more suburban feel.

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The second section is between the Maple Avenue/Miller Street intersection to the northern boundary with Maplewood.  Lelie said this area feels more like a downtown, with building setbacks closer to the roadway, narrower lots, and mixed use (commercial/residential) buildings.  This vicinity consists of ten acres and is more densely developed.

Lelie explained the criteria to deem an area in need of rehabilitation as (1) whether there are significant portions or structures that are deteriorated OR (2) whether more than half of the housing and the water/sewer infrastructure is 50 years or older.  Lelie said both criteria are met in this area. She said a street infrastructure project occurred within the last few years, but façade and site improvements along this stretch of Springfield Avenue are needed to help "promote the overall development of the community".  Lelie added the township can now take a look at design standards and potentially promote and incentivize façade improvements.  

A motion was unanimously passed by the Planning Board members to refer the issue back to the Township Committee.