WAYNE, NJ - In the newly released 2020 Master Plan Re-Examination report, Wayne Town Planner, Chris Kok and his team have laid out an interesting look at the history of Wayne, highlighting how the land in Wayne has changed over the years, and what plans went forward and what plans never came to fruition.

Wayne started as an agricultural community and has grown into a residential community with several commercial areas. There is almost no trace of farmland left in the Township.

The following excerpt from the report explains how past Wayne planners moved the township from the 1950s to today.  Enjoy!

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Summary of Wayne’s Growth

Starting as a series of individual neighborhoods centered along rail lines, lakes, and rivers in midst of what was otherwise an agricultural community, Wayne saw an incredible spurt of growth in the 1950s and 1960s resulting from greater accessibility due to the rise of the automobile and due to a population boom resulting from the end of a long depression and world war. Single family neighborhoods sprung up throughout the township.

During much of the history of Wayne, an interstate highway was envisioned, cutting across the Wayne from the west, passing to the east of the Point View Reservoir, and finally exiting through the north side of the Township. Plans for malls, o ce parks, research centers, and industrial areas were developed with an assumption that the highway would pass through Wayne. Many of these properties did develop as planned, such as the corporate o ce district along the Valley Road extension: Others did not, such as the planned mall at the proposed interchange with Route 23 (though Wayne’s easy accessibility allowed for a regional mall to be constructed at a different location along Route 23 and Route 46). When I-287 was finally constructed to the west of Wayne, these areas lost a key component of accessibility envisioned at the time the development of the area was planned by the Township.

Other plans were drafted to enhance accessibility throughout the Township, particularly the West Belt and the East Belt. As time continued to pass, some sections were completed, whereas others were abandoned. The East Belt, which would have completely changed the way people access Wayne and the types of development that would have been attracted to the eastern side of Wayne was abandoned due to policy changes in Totowa. The West Belt, which at various times included connections to Valley Road, Willowbrook Mall, Lincoln Park, and Fair eld, has been partially constructed. A direct connection to Valley Road is not likely to happen, but access has been improved due to the connection to Riverview Drive. Construction of a western expansion to Lincoln Park is currently in progress, but enhanced access to I-80 and Route 46 via Fair eld is at this moment not contemplated due to objections from Fair eld Township.

Commercial development expanded along developed corridors, particularly Route 23, Route 46 and Hamburg Turnpike. Other smaller commercial districts developed to serve the local neighborhoods created during the 1950s and 1960s. Ambitious plans were developed to bring new housing, hotel rooms, and o ce space to the area surrounding the interchange of I-80, Route 23, and Route 46, however, changing environmental regulations largely prevented these plans from being realized.

After the 1960’s, the land most suited to development had already been developed, and developers were moving into areas that were more difficult to develop due to steep slopes, high water tables, and shallow bedrock. This combined with an increased awareness of our impacts on the environment resulted in the adoption of the Environmental Protection Ordinance and a switch towards cluster development. While traditional development involved laying out streets and lots with standardized dimensions and spacing, cluster development involves clustering construction on areas more suitable for construction at higher density while preserving areas less suitable for development in their undeveloped state.

Throughout all of this, a key environmental constraint on the Township has been flooding. Older sections of Wayne, including Old Wayne and the Mountainview neighborhood, as well as the residential areas next to the Passaic and Pompton Rivers originally developed as summer cottages have been significantly impacted by flooding. A series of flood control projects have been proposed over the years, but many have not been constructed. As such, the Township still experiences significant flooding along its western rivers as well as along certain streams inside the Township. The Township has pursued an ongoing program of purchasing and demolishing neighborhoods subject to significant flooding.

Now, with Wayne in a largely built-out state, the question of land development becomes one of redevelopment. What sectors are growing and what sectors are shrinking? What areas of the Township are attractive to development and what areas are not attractive to development? Most of Wayne is developed as single-family housing and by and large, this is not expected to change. However, other areas of the Township are likely to change. The future is not certain, nor has it ever been. Throughout the years of planning in Wayne, numerous different futures were envisioned, however, only one was realized. There are many different paths, along which Wayne could develop, many of which are impacted by outside influences such as the free market, governmental regulation, and consumer preferences; The question now is where the Township wants to go and how it is going to get there.